Aquatic, or watershed restoration, involves efforts to improve the function and/or condition of streams and other water bodies that have been lost or impaired by past human and natural disturbance. Examples of aquatic restoration activities include:
- Removing or replacing culverts that do not allow for the passage of fish (red pipes)
- Fixing or maintaining problematic sections of roads that erode into streams
- Removing stream crossing structures on closed roads to re-establish the natural hydrologic flow of the area
- Stabilizing stream banks to reduce erosion and sedimentation
- Thinning streamside (riparian) young growth stands to help trees grow bigger and faster for future in-stream wood recruitment
- Adding large wood back into streams to create better fish habitat
Recently, as part of a National Forest Service directive, the Tongass National Forest completed a Watershed Condition Framework. This framework ranks watersheds by condition and sets priorities for restoring impacted watersheds. This analysis and ranking follows a similar collaborative effort for Prince of Wales Island. This work, lead by The Nature Conservancy with support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Tongass National Forest, and the Klawock Watershed Council, produced a Framework for setting watershed priorities for Forest and Freshwater Restoration* on Prince of Wales Island.
Aquatic Restoration work, which usually requires machine support, can be expensive, but can provide long-term benefits for a variety of species as well as humans. The Tongass National Forest has hundreds of red pipes and hundreds of miles of altered streams needing work. There are 15,000 acres of riparian young growth forest needing thinning (Tongass Young Growth Management Strategy, 2008). There are 5,500 miles of roads needing to be stored (stream crossing structure removal) and many thousands more needing to be maintained. The Staney Creek Community Forest Report outlines how the collaborative group addressed aquatic restoration on Prince of Wales Island.
Stewardship contracting is a popular option for combining aquatic restoration service work with timber sales. In this type of contract, the receipts generated from the timber sale can be used to offset the costs of the restoration service work. This is referred to as exchanging “goods for services”.
*The complete Forest and Freshwater Restoration document file size is extremely large, so we have posted only the conclusion here. If you would like a copy of the document in its entirety, please contact us.