Monday, November 25, 2013

Encouraging News for the Elwha Restoration Project

We are thrilled to hear that biologists have observed the largest Chinook salmon run since 1992 in the Elwha River and that dam removal is back on schedule. Biologists counted 1,741 adult Chionook and mapped 763 redds (salmon nests) between the mouth of the river and Glines Canyon dam. Of the total salmon counted during the one-day survey, 75% were observed upstream of the former Elwha Dam site.

The dam project, which began in September of 2011, had been on pause for the last year while water intake issues were dealt with at the Elwha Water facilities site.  While the engineers were working at the facilities site, habitat restoration within the drained reservoirs continued in full force. By the beginning of October dam removal was ready to resume and a ten foot vertical notch was blasted from the Glines Canyon dam.  Additional notches in the dam will be made in the next calendar year on case by case basis depending on current flows and reservoir levels and will continue until the sediments settle appropriately. The National Park has some great details about the process here.
The dam removal project is projected to be completed in 2014 but habitat restoration efforts will continue for the next five years. During this time biologists and researchers will continue to study the river as it changes and we look forward to seeing salmon populations approach 400,000 once again.

To learn even more about this incredible project check out the Burke Museum’s newest exhibit based on The Mountaineers book Elwha: A River Reborn.
         "Elwha: A River Reborn takes you to the Northwest's legendary Elwha River Valley to discover the people, places, and history behind a remarkable local story--and the largest dam removal project ever undertaken."
The exhibit goes through March 9, 2014. More details about the Burke exhibit can be found here.  
Also check out the awesome videos of the project put together by Olympic National Park

Friday, November 1, 2013

Last Chance to Comment on the Sustainable Roads Project

Tell the forest service what roads matter to you!

The Forest Service is holding their final public meeting for the Sustainable Roads Project in Everett on November 13 (rescheduled due to government shutdown earlier in October). This series of public meetings have been scheduled to help the forest service identify a road system within budget for safe travel, use, administration and resource protection. In simpler terms, the forest service can only afford to maintain about a quarter of the 2500 miles of roads that crisscross our forests. They need public input to help make future decisions about road projects such as upgrades, closures, decomissioning and road to trail conversions.  This is your chance to provide feedback on what roads are important to you and why. Mt.Baker-Snoqualmie FS staff and local recreation and conservation leaders will be on hand to answer your questions.

Please note that comments via online survey closed October 31st.

Event Details

When: Nov. 13, 5:30 - 8 p.m.

Where: Everett Community College, Jackson Conference Center, 2000 Tower Street, Everett, WA 98201

Free Parking Flyer, Campus Map and Directions 

Who:  You!

Background on Sustainable Roads

Each year five million people visit the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. They drive forest roads to get to their destinations, to experience spectacular vistas at places such as Big Four Ice Caves, Mt. Baker, Heather Meadows, Skagit Wild and Scenic River and Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. But what does the future hold for these beloved places?

Approximately 2,500 miles of roads crisscross the forest, from the Canadian border to the Mt. Rainier National Park on the western Cascades.  The Forest Service can afford to maintain about a quarter of them.

Guided by mandates in the 2005 Travel Management Rule, each national forest must identify a road system by 2015 within budget for safe travel, use, administration and resource protection.  To complete this report, the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest staff wants to find out what roads are important to the public and why.

Eight meetings are scheduled June through October in Seattle, Sedro-Woolley, Issaquah, Bellingham, Enumclaw, Monroe and Everett. Those who do not attend a meeting will be able to give their input online.   Partners and stakeholders representing a broad range of interests, from environmental, timber industry to off-road vehicle groups, have formed a “Sustainable Roads Cadre” to engage the public in the process.

A science-driven approach developed by the Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station and Portland State University will be used to understand how people use and value landscapes and resources. Social scientists from the lab will guide meeting participants in using maps to identify places of significance and assign values or activities associated with them.

This process creates socio-spatial layers that will be incorporated into digital map data to contribute to the report and can be used for future recreation and stewardship planning.  The results will provide visual displays of visitor destinations, routes, and show places with special meaning or value.

The forest will share the results with the public in the late fall after the report is compiled and analyzed.  No decisions will be made.  Before doing road upgrades, closures, decommissioning or road conversions to trail, the forest will execute the National Environmental Policy Analysis.

“The future is uncertain. But that doesn’t mean we can afford to stand back and let circumstances dictate our decisions for us. This analysis will guide us, in a holistic forest-wide approach, choosing the roads we can afford to keep open,” said Jennifer Eberlien, forest supervisor.

Learn more about the Sustainable Roads Process