Groups celebrate stream restoration

Government and nonprofit groups gathered on Prince of Wales Island recently to celebrate a pair of restoration projects.

The Nature Conservancy, Trout Unlimited and the U.S. Forest Service worked together on the Harris River and Fubar Creek. Both were damaged by logging in past decades.

Randy Hagenstein of The Nature Conservancy says loggers removed fallen trees from waterways, which changed habitat and flow.

“By going into these streams and engineering logs and logjams, we accomplish a number of goals to change it back to what would have been a more natural condition. And that improves the habitat for salmon and steelhead and other resident fish,” he says.

The work also included new trails and recreation areas. Fubar Creek was also given a Haida name, Gandláay Háanaa, which translates as Beautiful Stream or River. Roads were also improved, culverts were unblocked and second-growth forest areas were thinned.

Forest Service officials stressed the importance of the collaborative nature of the projects.

Hagenstein says his group helped raise funds, handle contracts and gain needed permits.

“The fourth role is to do some of the follow-up monitoring to make sure that the results that we hope to get from the project are realized,” he says.

The celebration was held August 25th in Craig.

The restoration work has its critics.

“The Harris River Restoration Project is a good example of taxpayer dollars being wasted on a phony stream restoration project,” writes timber advocate George Woodbury in a commentary published by the Juneau Empire. “The truth — the sedimentation in the river is natural.”

“Large amounts of sediment have been washing out of the surrounding hillsides since the last ice-age,” he writes.