Habitat in Northeast Washington
Prioritizing fish passage
The region continues to make removing barriers to fish passage a priority. Many dams and culverts block fish passage in the Pend Oreille River and its tributaries. The Kalispel Tribe of Indians and U.S. Forest Service continue to prioritize culvert removals within the Leclerc Creek watershed. In addition, the water in many streams is often too warm and doesn’t have enough dissolved oxygen to support salmon. And there are too few areas of suitable or accessible habitat.
Habitat quality is at risk
In the northeast region, it is estimated that the habitat has declined. While restoration of all lost habitat is neither practical nor necessary, success in recovering salmon runs will require both restoring degraded habitat as well as protecting functioning habitat. Excess fine sediment from logging roads causes many problems for bull trout, including: smothering fish eggs, insects, and plants; clogging fish gills to impair breathing; increasing water temperature; and decreasing light, which can affect plant growth and the ability for bull trout to see their prey. Worse, excess sediment can change the shape and route of the stream and reduce lateral and vertical stability and the ability to store floodwater. Also, some nutrients and toxics attach to soil particles, hitchhiking a ride to water bodies. Large wood recruitment is deficient in many watersheds due to past logging activities. Focus is being placed on managing shorelines for wood recruitment and in-stream placement of large wood.