Two weeks ago we took a look at how Cascadia Conservation District is an asset to the community through its Landowner Owner Assistance Program. Continuing with that theme, we’re going to take a quick look at the Family Forest Fish Passage Program, which is run by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources- one of Cascadia’s partnering organizations. Cascadia’s roll in this program is to help Chelan County landowners determine eligibility, file the application and finally oversee implementation once funding is made available by the DNR.
A good portion of Washington’s forested land, 3.2 million acres (http://www.dnr.wa.gov), is privately owned by small forest landowners. These 3.2 million acres are an important habitat component in a state with federally protected anadromous fish populations. This is where the Family Forest Fish Passage Program comes in.
Working with qualified landowners, the purpose of the Family Forest Fish Passage Program is to replace culverts and other barriers with new structures that allow fish easy passage and reduce habitat degradation while improving access for land owners. Common culprits, culverts can degrade and dissect fish habitat in several ways. A culvert can deter fish passage if there is a drop, similar to a water fall, from the output of the culvert. Similarly, a culvert can become a barrier if it is undersized, creating high water velocity and pressure so great it prevents fish, especially juveniles, from advancing upstream.
Unlike our Landowner Assistance Program, there are several conditions for eligibility. You must be a private small forest landowner and harvest less than 2 million board feet of timber annually from your property. The barrier must be associated with a road and on forested land capable of supporting a merchantable stand of timber. Finally, the barrier must be in a fish-bearing stream, typically wider than 2 feet with a gradient less than 20%.
If you’d like to learn more about this program, visit the Washington State Department of Natural Resources website, call our office at (509) 436-1601 or come to our office at 15 N Mission St. Wenatchee, WA.
Today’s snowpack in North Central Washington is down to 55% of the 34 year average (http://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov).