The project area includes Gheer Creek, a tributary to the South Fork Newaukum River in western Washington State, where the river is blocked by four fish passage barriers. The four sites are 1) a dam at the outlet of Carlisle Lake, 2) a barrier culvert at the upper end of the lake, 3) a dam at the outlet of a small in-stream pond off Deggler Road upstream of Carlisle Lake, and 4) an abandoned railroad crossing barrier culvert on the South Fork of Gheer Creek. By interrupting habitat connectivity, even a single barrier can have a disproportionately large impact on the abundance and resiliency of wild fish populations. Removing these barriers would improve access to over ten miles of habitat for coho salmon, chinook salmon, chum salmon, steelhead, and sea-run cutthroat trout.
WFC coordinated extensively with the landowners, WDFW Habitat Program, WDFW Fish Program, and ECY Dam Safety. Extensive site topo surveys were conducted and GeoEngineers were contracted to develop and analyze several conceptual designs. WFC evaluated the alternatives and recommended a path forward that provided fish passage, increased dam safety, and addressed Onalaska Alliance’s requirement to reconstruct the emergency spillway.
Unfortunately, with WDFW unwilling to modify their hatchery practices to complement wild fish recovery in Gheer Creek, and with the landowner (Onalaska Alliance) advocating for no changes to those practices, the Chehalis ASRP steering committee decided to terminate the project.
WFC is interested to continue this discussion if there is serious interest in understanding and addressing the substantial space that exists between the WDFW Habitat Program and the WDFW Fish Program.
Gheer Creek, tributary to the South Fork Newaukum River, Lewis County, western Washington State
The project goal is to improve wild fish access to over ten miles of habitat that has been blocked for several decades, restoring a self-sustaining wild salmon and steelhead population to Gheer Creek while providing an excellent outreach and education opportunity for the community. In addition to implementing fish passage improvements, Wild Fish Conservancy will work long-term with WA Department of Fish and Wildlife to ensure hatchery practices in Gheer Creek are compatible with wild fish recovery efforts there.
Primary Habitats Impacted By Project:
Managing Agency/ Organization:
Riparian Stream Channels
Wild Fish Conservancy
Budget or Project Cost:
CBS Habitat Rest. Project Washington State Grants
Landowner Onalaska Alliance