White River Large Wood Atonement

White River Large Wood Atonement
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In the summer of 2014, an innovative salmon habitat enhancement project in the White River was completed by a local non-profit. With assistance from the US Fish and Wildlife Service office in Leavenworth, the Cascade Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group completed the restoration project which left no construction-related impacts and used entirely natural materials for the long-term benefit of native fishes. These include Endangered spring Chinook salmon, Threatened steelhead, sockeye salmon, cutthroat trout, mountain whitefish, and other native species. As a result of a century of timber harvest, log drives, and agriculture, the White River and its floodplain have been greatly modified and simplified. Due in part to these human activities the river is generally 10 – 12 feet below the top of the floodplain, a surface that used to flood regularly. This incision, or down-cutting, also serves to more efficiently convey fallen trees downstream due to the vertical stream banks and lack of large, stable mature trees. These legacy activities have long-lasting effects on river function and has diminished the habitat quality upon which native fish depend.Utilizing a specialized barge-mounted pile driver and a helicopter, the project proponents built 28 log structures with virtually no construction-related impact on the landscape. After one year, the structures have already endured a significant flood event and nearly all are successfully collecting additional wood that was previously flushed down to Lake Wenatchee. The vertical pilings act as the missing “catch points” and appear to be providing excellent, stable habitat for fish. The groups continue to monitor their performance regularly and are working with others to quantify their biological effectiveness.Thanks to conservation efforts the project and surrounding forest and floodplain will be protected from future impacts to fish and wildlife habitat.Funders of the White River project include the Salmon Recovery Funding Board, Washington Department of Natural Resources, Chelan County Public Utility District (Tributary Committee), and the USFWS. INFO: