A couple in Trout Lake are happy with their new bridge, funded by a statewide program called the Family Forest Fish Passage Program.
This program paid 100 percent of the costs for a new 50-foot steel bridge to replace the former dilapidated culvert in Stoller Creek.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife assessed the former culvert as a fish passage barrier to resident trout, and it was also structurally unsound.
The Family Forest Fish Passage Program (FFFP Program) was established by the State Legislature to help small forest landowners meet Forest Practices rules that require fish passage barriers to be corrected.
All large and small private forest landowners are required to fix artificial instream fish barriers by 2016. In May of 2003 the State Legislature committed to helping small forest landowners pay for these repairs by passing House Bill 1095.
HB 1095 specifically stated that any small forest landowner who voluntarily enrolls in the Family Forest Fish Passage Program would not be required to fix any fish blockage until the state can provide financial assistance.
However, if a landowner does not enroll in the program, he or she will be required to fix the blockage at his or her own expense by 2016 and any future Forest Practices Application for timber harvest may be denied until the barrier is corrected.
State support for this program comes from the Legislature, as well as Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, Washington Department of Natural Resources, and the Salmon Recovery Funding Board.
Underwood Conservation District (UCD) in White Salmon served as the local sponsor and administrator of the project. UCD worked with landowners, Tom and Bonnie Reynolds, who own and manage 21 acres of forestland along the White Salmon River and Stoller Creek.
After enrolling in the program, the landowners had an option to replace the old culvert with a bridge, an arch culvert (which was more expensive than the bridge due to site constraints), or remove the crossing all together.
Because of the need for access across Stoller Creek to forestland, the bridge option was chosen. The project was constructed in the summer of 2008 by Mike Green Construction.
UCD staff and the Reynolds assisted with replanting the project area this fall with a variety of native shrubs and trees. Approximately 2.3 miles of fish habitat were opened up for residential fish, according to a WDFW stream survey.
Bonnie Reynolds had this to say about the project, "Tom and I are delighted with the bridge and believe it is a community benefit to have the fish passage reestablished. The stream bed already looks very natural, as if it was always just as it is. I love the sound of it rushing toward the White Salmon. The project was accomplished very quickly with minimal disruption to the vegetation and soil around the stream. With the replanting I imagine that within a year, there will be little evidence of the construction project except the mighty fine bridge. And it came in under estimated cost -- WOW."
UCD also completed a similar project under the FFFP Program on a tributary to the Washougal River in the summer of 2007 with forest landowner John Ziegler.
Persons who might have a fish passage barrier (such as a culvert, dam, weir, or spillway) on their forest land, or for more information about this project, contact Underwood Conservation District at 493-1936 or via email at UCD@gorge.net.