Nisqually Watershed w Rivers

Below is a sample of current or completed restoration projects in the Nisqually Watershed.


WRIA 11/12 Nearshore Assessment

Started in 2006 in cooperation with Nisqually Indian Tribe, Pierce County, People for Puget Sound, and BNSF Railway Company

Funded by Salmon Recovery Funding Board (SRFB)

The WRIA 11 and 12 Nearshore Habitat Assessment and Restoration Design Project assessed the condition of the habitat along a small segment of shoreline in the southern Puget Sound region. SPSSEG inventoried habitat from the Nisqually Delta north to Point Defiance to identify meaningful restoration opportunities and develop a restoration plan specific to this nearshore reach.

In addition to identifying restoration projects that will have the greatest long-term benefit to salmon within this reach, the WRIA 11/12 Nearshore Assessment fills in data gaps between previously assessed areas adjacent to the project reach.The Thurston County assessment covered Thurston County to the Nisqually River and the Pierce County Nearshore Habitat Assessment covered Anderson and Fox Islands, as well as the Gig Harbor area.

Where possible, this assessment was designed consistent with these adjacent assessments, and gained consistency with other assessments in Puget Sound by following the Puget Sound Partnership’s guidance for nearshore assessments (PSNERP 2002).

Follow the link below to read the complete methodology


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Ohop Creek Restoration

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.

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Powell Creek Culvert


Powell Creek, a 240-acre parcel, was purchased by the Nisqually Land Trust. It was the largest privately held property in the salmon rearing section of the Nisqually River. This property added 2.5 miles of Nisqually River shoreline to the sections of land already protected by the Land Trust and several other government agencies. The property has stands of mature forest along the length of the river contributing to prime habitat. It also includes a floodplain wetland complex at the confluence of Nisqually and Powell Creek.

Although Powell Creek had intact habitat it also had 3 culverts blocking the migration of Chinook, coho, steelhead, and cutthroat.

Powell Creek Culvert Replacement

This project replaced a failing culvert with a 50’ steel-beam bridge. Three log jams were installed to recreate historic in-stream woody debris. The project was completed in summer 2009 and funded by FFFPP and NRCS

Here are a couple of pictures of the finished product!

Powell Creek Culvert and Road Removal

In 2008 SPSSEG, in partnership with the Nisqually Land Trust and the Nisqually Tribe, removed 3 culverts and an abandoned road in the Nisqually floodplain.

Photos to come!

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Mashel River Restoration Project

As the largest and principal salmon producing tributary to theNisquallyRiver, theMashelRiversupports many species of salmon including endangered Chinook and steelhead. It is located inPierceCountyjust southwest of Eatonville and its sub-basin drains an area of approximately 83 square miles. The Mashel has over 20 miles of main stem river plus 67 miles of associated streams.

40yrs ago the Mashel was known as one of the premier steelhead rivers in the Pacific Northwest, but overfishing and extensive timber harvest in the 1970s and 1980s deteriorated key habitat areas and fish populations plummeted.

In 2004 SPSSEG and the Nisqually Indian Tribe placed 7 Engineered Log Jams (ELJs) in the lower 0.7 miles of the river, using a total of 40, 20-30ft long logs. These jams were monitored to determine their success in increasing the quantity and quality of gravel and pool habitat.

Following the success of the 2004 ELJs, a new restoration plan spanning 2.4 miles of river and consisting of three construction phases in 2006, 2007, and 2009 were completed. The plans included an additional 13 ELJs to create pools, collect large woody debris (LWD), reduce water velocity and increase bank stabilization. In Boxcar Canyon reach ELJs were installed to provide in-stream functions as well as re-connecting the lost floodplain and its historic side channel habitat.  The construction of the Mashel River Restoration Project was completed in October 2007 and was followed by a riparian planting, revegetating 3 acres.

The logjams won the American Council of Engineering Companies’ highest award for WA State Projects: a Gold Award in the category of “original or innovative application of new or existing techniques” with the engineering designs of Herrera Environmental Consultants.

Funding for the Mashel River Restoration Project was provided by SRFB, NFWF, FAF, and USFWS. Partners include Pierce Conservation District, Pierce County, Stream Team, Town of Eatonville, Nisqually Land Trust, Nisqually River Foundation, Nisqually Indian Tribe, USFWS, SRFB, and Fish America.

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Mashel River Monitoring

Consistent pre- and post-project effectiveness monitoring, in partnership with the Nisqually Indian Tribe (NIT), has helped to determine changes in river morphology and salmonid abundance since 2002.

SPSSEG and the NIT have been using the Timber-Fish-Wildlife (TFW) Monitoring Program Methods for effectiveness monitoring.

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