Representative Peter Abbarno and Councilor Sue Marshall join scientists for lamprey survey on the East Fork Lewis River
The Lower East Fork Lewis Floodplain Reclamation Project is moving full steam ahead. With grants from the Washington Recreation and Conservation Office, Department of Ecology, and NOAA totaling nearly $20 million, this project to restore habitat for native fish and wildlife, reduce flood risk, and control erosion is slated to break ground in late 2024.
But before the physical work of restoring three river miles of the East Fork Lewis River near La Center, WA. can begin, a lot of research and preparations must occur. One task that must happen before the floodplain restoration work can occur is called fish salvage. Fish salvage is the process of temporarily relocating fish from an area slated for restoration to a safe location. After fish salvage is complete, the river can be temporarily redirected and restoration work can occur. Once the restoration work is complete, fish can return to their new, improved habitat.
Preparations for fish salvage began in July with a field visit to the Ridgefield Pits section of the restoration project with biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Clark County environmental staff, and NOAA. The purpose of the visit was to give biologists the opportunity to survey the density and distribution of lamprey at the project site.
Joining in on the lamprey field day was Representative Peter Abbarno (Washington Legislative District 20) and Clark County Councilor Sue Marshall. In January, Councilor Marshall penned an op-ed in support of a program to fund the restoration project. Representative Abbarno helped secure the funding in Washington's Capital Budget. After donning their waders, they explored five of the nine pits in the Ridgefield Pits complex and helped the biologists with the survey.
Using backpack electro-shockers to momentarily stun and locate larval lamprey, biologists confirmed that lamprey populations are strong in this area and that restoration efforts should target improving habitat for both salmonids and lamprey. This information helps inform the fish salvage plan that we will implement prior to temporarily redirecting the river during restoration as well as the overall restoration design.