By Jeffry Gottfried
On Nov 19, volunteers from TVTU and the North Coast Land Trust met at Thompson Creek near Seaside for a day of stream rehabilitation . Thompson Creek, a small tributary of the Necanicum is a waterway heavily impacted by development. As I drove to the work site, located within a recently-developed community of homes, a noticed what appeared to be a ditch flowing through the backyards of a number of homes, little did I know that this was a coho salmon spawning stream.
Once on-site, I was impressed to learn that Neal Maine, founder of the North Coast Conservancy had negotiated with the developer who had agreed to construct fewer homes on his land than originally planned, and to donate or sell riparian lands to the Conservancy for protection of fish spawning habitat.
Upon arrival, volunteers went to work with project #1: feeding the beaver! When the North Coast Land Conservancy obtained the property, they planned an elaborate project that would raise water levels, drown-out invasive species and provide slack-water habitat for juvenile coho. Because they had spent all their money on paying for land, they put these plans on hold for a year. During this time, the beaver set-up shop in the riparian strip on the Conservancy’s new property and managed to accomplish all of the goals set forth in the restoration plan: and without a permit or a licensed civil engineer on staff! According to Doug Ray, who led the day’s work, the current problem was the fact that the beaver were eating themselves out of house and home and this stretch of Thompson Creek was in danger of losing its stream rehab team (ie the beavers). Doug and other volunteers provided truck loads of willow cuttings (aka beaver French fries). TVTU volunteers and others tossed arm-loads of cuttings into the pond behind the dam. It appeared to be the makings of a winter-long beaver feast as well as great dam building and maintenance stuff.
Project #2 was designed with the future, beyond this winter in mind. We planted more than 1000 additional willow cuttings in a nearby wet meadow, behind beaver-proof fences so that future populations of beaver and coho salmon that depend upon them will hang around and prosper for years to come.
To inspire us in our work, Doug took us on a short walk up Thompson Creek where we viewed gatherings of spawning salmon that reminded me of trips to Alaska. It was truly spectacular. I ended the day tired but so proud of TVTU’s focus on the enhancement of the Necanicum watershed and my association with TVTU. I went home and made a donation to the North Coast Land Conservancy as well as to TVTU.