Dungeness River Drought-Relief Work

Executed by the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe,

in coordination with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW)

Case Study

S’Klallam Tribe Natural Resources Department’s Mission: to protect treaty rights of the natural resources of the Point No Point Treaty area for the benefit of Jamestown S’Klallam Tribal members and future descendants. In this capacity; the Department is charged with ensuring the orderly harvest of fish, shellfish and wildlife resources, providing opportunities for Tribal members to derive subsistence and/or livelihood from the harvest of these resources, increasing opportunity through restoration, enhancement and scientific study, and reversing the decline of these resources resulting from environmental degradation. 

WDFW’s Mission: To preserve, protect and perpetuate fish, wildlife and ecosystems while providing sustainable fish and wildlife recreational and commercial opportunities.

Flows in the Dungeness River and independent streams in the watershed were expected to continue to drop. It was expected that flows would get to the point that fish would be unable to pass upstream to spawning grounds at multiple locations. With record-breaking numbers of Dungeness pinks, and with ESA-listed species at already fragile numbers, inaction could have had dire results, with some streams left without any spawners. This project was to reduce or avoid harm by helping to ensure as many migrating salmonids as possible, including critical and ESA-listed species, reach their spawning areas.

Tribal and WDFW staff took measures to assure capability and reliability of the proposed project by investigating a variety of methods to assist in fish passage. For example, staff recently field-tested and compared “water-bladders” (purchased by WDFW) to temporary Water-Gate® “diversion dams” (on loan from Department of Ecology). Partners determined that the Water-Gate® diversion dams were far-superior in accomplishing the task, with a durable design, quicker set-up (and break-down) time and requiring fewer installers and also have low impact on the environment. By using the diversion dams, the project will protect salmon by saving time and labor. For example, unlike the bladders, the dams will not require installation of fence posts (very labor extensive) and are much easier to maneuver.

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