Ohop Creek Restoration

posted in: WRIA 11 Nisqually | 0

Ohop Creek is the third largest anadromous fish accessible tributary in Water Resource Inventory Area 11 (WRIA 11). As one of two major tributaries to theNisquallyRiver, Lower Ohop Creek plays a key role in providing salmon habitat and spawning grounds. Lower Ohop currently drains an area of 43.8 miles and possesses 44 miles of stream which is classified under Washington Department of Natural Resources as having significant fish usage. Its two principle tributaries are Twenty-five Mile and Lynch creeks.

Historically, this stream sustained large populations of Chinook, coho, pink, steelhead and cutthroat trout. Over a century ago farmers turned the creek into a straight-flowing ditch in an attempt to dry outOhopValleyand create better pasture land for cattle. Deep clay deposits in the soil, however, continued to hold water year round preventing the valley from drying out. Despite the failed effort to completely dry the valley, the stream remained channelized.

Restoration to the area began in 2009 and corrected historic ditching and draining of a one mile reach of Lower Ohop Creek. The new channel was constructed to recreate a sinuous stream that connected to its floodplain. The floodplain, now replanted with native vegetation will create 80 acres of a healthy riparian habitat that provides temperature control to the creek and increases bank stabilization. Additionally, the project also removed old buildings, and removed invasive plants. Early results include an increase in salmon stocks and the return of wildlife species, such as elk, that had not been seen in the area in decades.

Funding and partnerships that have made a project this possible include SRFB, USFWS, Nisqually Land Trust, Nisqually Tribe, and NRCS.