More Wood Please
Salmon need places to rest in the heavy river flows during winter migration and spawning. The newly hatched fry need places to hide from predators. That’s why we add large logs to creeks, creating complexity in the stream, slowing down the water so hiding places are created and providing cover from the sun.
When loggers clear-cut the forest a century ago, leftover debris piled up in massive log jams in many of our creeks. Well-meaning decision makers in the 1950s called for clearing away all those obstructions so fish could move up and downstream more freely.
With no wood in the streambeds, however, the water in the streams moved too quickly and deep channels were cut, creating long “bowling alleys” of fast moving water. Fish had no place to hide or rest.
Now, the best practice calls for large logs to be installed back into the creek. Not in huge piles like the old days, but in strategic places. This wood will capture other wood and build up reasonable areas where fish can rest, hide and grow large, so they can survive their outward migration and life in the ocean.
Mendocino Land Trust has been involved in these large wood projects over several summers, and our measurements from the before and after are showing that the pools for salmon are in fact becoming deeper, which is just what we intended to happen. We look forward to seeing more of these results as we take more measurements each summer in both the Big River and Noyo River Watersheds.