Restoration at the Pysht River Conservation Area
This fall marks the final phase of a multi-year project to restore instream and floodplain habitat conditions to facilitate salmon recovery, improve water quality and reduce risk of flooding on State Route 112. Led by the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe in collaboration with the Makah Tribe and surrounding landowners, 36 engineered log jams were installed along 2-miles of the Pysht River.
Twelve of the log jams were installed on the Land Trust’s 74-acre public Pysht River Conservation Area. Additionally, the Land Trust supported the overall restoration effort by allowing the conservation area to act as a staging area for equipment and materials.
With the log jams installed, land management to restore the areas disturbed by the construction and installation of the log jams is underway, including the planting of native trees and shrubs.
In the past, logging had occurred along much of the Pysht River’s banks triggering “channel incision,” (The process of down-cutting into a stream channel leading to a decrease in the channel bed elevation) and disconnect between the river and its floodplain, explained Mike McHenry, habitat biologist for Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe. Channel incision can negatively impact habitat for salmon and other wildlife that rely on the river. Also, without large woody debris entering the river to create a dynamic system with pockets of habitat and structures to help slow and direct flow, natural floodplain processes can become hindered.
Fortunately, logging practices have since changed to better protect the river and its natural processes. However, it’s expected that the recent restoration work will accelerate the river system’s recovery until the trees are large enough to do it.
The Pysht River supports populations of Chinook, Coho and Chum salmon, as well as Steelhead and Cutthroat Trout. Of these populations, Chinook are considered “chronically depressed,” Chum are “declining” and Coho are “below potential,” according to the project grant application submitted to the Washington Department of Ecology.
Legacy Grove Underway at the Lyre Conservation Area
Land Trust volunteers began the construction of a new trail at the Lyre Conservation Area on October 6. Eventually the trail will weave through an evergreen grove for community members and visitors to explore and enjoy. This project is part of North Olympic Land Trust’s Love Where You Live initiative to foster a responsible community land ethic. Named in memory of John Willits, who planted thousands of trees throughout Clallam County and helped lead the Land Trust for more than 20 years, the John Willits Legacy Grove will be a reminder of the social and ecological impact possible through conservation.
The Legacy Grove is located within the heart of a 2013 timber harvest, which took place prior to the conservation of the now Lyre Conservation Area in late 2014. Since its conservation, Land Trust staff and volunteers have been managing the land to promote forest recovery and growth. As it matures, the Legacy Grove may be an opportunity to reflect forest restoration methods.