Renowned for their size, the Lewis and Clark River is still home to a remnant population of winter steelhead. But two perched and undersized culverts on private timber land blocked upstream and downstream passage for adult and juvenile native winter steelhead and coastal cutthroat trout to and from intact spawning habitat. One culvert was on the mainstem Lewis & Clark River and the other was on an adjacent spawning tributary.
This particular project site was above a dam, and which has a fish ladder where wild steelhead are able to pass to the upper river’s spawning habitat in higher flows. Also, these upper portions of the Lewis & Clark are home to populations of native coastal cutthroat, relatively undisturbed by hatchery influences. Restoring passage – both upstream and downstream for adults and juveniles at all flow levels – allows greater use of intact spawning habitats currently blocked, and greater production and survival for native steelhead and cutthroat. That means more wild fish. More wild fish generally means better fishing!
Working with the private timber company, TU re-connected about four miles of quality spawning and rearing habitat for native winter steelhead and coastal cutthroat trout of all life stages at all flow levels. Sedimentation and harmful erosion that was resulting from the undersized culverts handling heavy flows was greatly reduced by restoring stream width to more-than bankful width.