Northwest NEWS

May 7, 2001


Stream buffers are not the answer to fish problems

In looking at the pictured barren banks of the Sammamish River in the April 16th article on Sammamish River habitat restoration, it's obvious that such restoration projects are not the cause of current "record" fish returns to our Washington rivers.
   Projects that strip the politically-incorrect overhanging blackberries and grasses from river banks, replacing that vegetation with native vegetation that will take years to reach effective-shade height, offer proof that a lack of native-vegetation shade is not the reason for past low fish returns.
   Scientists at the Pacific Fishery Management Council are saying that "The increase in fish survival is largely because cyclical ocean currents and the end of El Nino weather pattern brought cooler ocean temperatures and an increase in food fish eat ... In addition, restrictions on the Canadian fishing fleet to protect Coho salmon there has helped U.S. born fish as well."
   As to the Sammamish River, the Army Corps of Engineers 1960s flood control project did straighten the river. They also dredged and deepened the channel; the project did the opposite of silting the streambed.
   The result was the elimination of annual flooding of the Sammamish Valley. As far as the also politically-correct installation of logs and root wads in the river is concerned, it's such debris that in swift-flowing rivers has caused the deaths of boaters and floaters who are swept into and under the debris.
   The long and short of it is that the huge treed stream buffers currently being required of landowners, including farmers who lose the use of huge amounts of farmland, are not the answer to fish problems.
   Maxine Keesling, Woodinville