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Repairing Decades of Damage Along the Skokomish

August 10, 2007

People in Washington know when there's a big rain because the Skokomish River is among the first to flood. But the area will get some federal help to remedy that and improve water quality in the Olympic National Forest. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is investing $150,000 in a growing fund to repair landslide areas that are compromising fish and wildlife habitat. Ron Figlar Barnes of the Skokomish Tribe describes the problems they’ve encountered.

"The lower 'Skoke' has been choked by sediment, and much of that has come from erosional issues from the upper watershed, from tremendous logging of absolutely thousands and thousands of acres."

Barnes says the federal money should speed up the cleanup. The tribe is one of 20 organizations and agencies working together on the restoration effort. They have a three-year plan that includes not only the river, but the entire Olympic National Forest. It includes about $16 million worth of restoration work. The Skokomish Tribe has jurisdiction over much of the river, which runs through its reservation in Northwest Washington, where Figlar Barnes notes the cleanup is part of a very long-range plan.

"They honestly are looking at 100 to 200 years out. So, this'll be another component that will help the tribe into the future."

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WA