Restoring Stream Connections in the Siuslaw
The barriers -- both natural and human-made -- presented to Coho salmon making their way upstream for spawning are many. For example, an undersized or perched culvert can make the journey impossible, impeding the migration of juvenile and adult salmon alike.
In this video, Grahm Trask, a local restoration contractor and owner of Trask Design and Construction, partners with the Siuslaw Watershed Council and the Bureau of Land Management Siuslaw Field Office, to replace an undersized and perched culvert on Walker Creek near Walton with a bridge.
Walker Creek, like many in the Siuslaw, supports populations of Coho salmon, steelhead, and sea-run cutthroat which utilize freshwater habitat for spawning and rearing. By replacing this culvert with a fish-friendly bridge, 1.5 miles of stream habitat will be made accessible again to these important species, allowing the fish to transport marine nutrients from the ocean back to the streams and forest where they hatched. The new structure ensures that the stream will be accessible to aquatic species in the future, and that the road infrastructure allows for communities to access the nearby forestlands.
Grahm got his start in restoration setting large wood structures in streams with his father using draft horses. Through his work, he witnessed how transformative specific habitat restoration actions can be for aquatic species. The restoration and protection of natural watershed processes is the foundation of achieving overall watershed health. Efforts to increase water quality and quantity, improve habitat complexity, reconnect flood plains, and enhance vegetation species diversity all play critical roles in establishing functioning, healthy watersheds.
Replacing the undersized barrier culvert with a bridge was completed with in partnership with and funding from the Siuslaw Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management and the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board.