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Work within the Clearwater Forest Protects Salmon


by Leah Palmer, TNC Author/Editor

Thriving salmon swim via wholesome rivers. Wholesome rivers are fed by pristine creeks. Balanced watersheds stream via dynamic forests—making forests pivotal locations for salmon habitat restoration.  

Justin Urresti, Conservation Forester, within the Clearwater Forest Reserve of Washington. Photograph by Leah Palmer

Justin Urresti, Conservation Forester is aware of his work should happen in concord with neighborhood members. This dynamic is very true within the Clearwater Forest Reserve, acquired by The Nature Conservancy in 2011, as generally TNC seems to be against industries that revenue off the land. Justin’s forestry strategies exist someplace within the gray. He goals to each rehabilitate a forest that’s been logged for the reason that late 1800s and help a neighborhood workforce inside a altering financial system.  

Settled alongside the Clearwater River are generations of logging households who expertise the forest as integral to their id. So, when Justin started decommissioning a as soon as legendary logging street, he was met with opposition from some neighborhood members. “In the event you simply deliver idealism right here, you’re going to get that beat out of you. And as soon as that’s gone, it is a robust place to dwell,” he says. However, he maintains, “somebody has to talk for the land. Inside the context of political narratives and ideologies, I used to be involved about this street and it falling into the river.”  

Justin Urresti (helmet) directs contractor, Jeremy, as they tip timber for engineered logjams. Photograph by Leah Palmer.

Justin touts an in depth background in soil science and 30 years of expertise in forests. He insists the West aspect of the Olympic Peninsula incorporates among the “final nice salmon and steelhead runs” within the decrease 48.

They’re distinctive in that they don’t seem to be fed by hatcheries. They aren’t obstructed by dams. They aren’t degraded by growth.  

However, the best risk to those salmon runs are the impacts of logging. Immediately, TNC owns over 16,000 acres of land within the peninsula. The hope is to guard these very important corridors and tributaries from important decline and the potential of salmon extension inside our lifetime.  

Justin says, “as soon as [a forest] is clearcut it’s taken out of its pure regime. It may possibly not be thought of untouched and untrampled. Lots of people overlook that half—that [TNC] didn’t inherit land that was majestic and unaffected. This land was clear lower a number of instances. That’s our tableau, if you’ll. That’s what I’m given to color on.” 

With funds from the Salmon Restoration Funding Board (SRFB “Surf” Board), TNC is taking a multifaceted strategy to managing these very important lands and waters. One strategy is to are likely to the prevailing logging infrastructure within the forest.  



A mud and gravel street sits 40 toes above Hunt Creek. Immediately it’s fully impassable by automobiles and vans. Justin says, “There are primarily landslides which are occurring right here. This street, extra time, is falling immediately into Hunt Creek.” It seems to be as if a large chunk was taken out of its’s aspect. Hunt Creek feeds into to Clearwater River, which ultimately spills into the Pacific Ocean. Sediment from a failing street upstream can have important affect on Salmon downstream.  

With low-tech and cheap options, this street is now on a constructive trajectory. Working alongside a neighborhood contractor, Justin positioned quite a lot of pure supplies alongside the street to avert water decelerate erosive flooding. Rocks, straw, grass, and particles additionally work to filter sediment earlier than it spills into the river.  

Decommissioned logging street within the Clearwater Forest. Photograph by Leah Palmer

He’s remodeled the street into a large foot-trail that results in a campsite close by the pristine Clearwater River—so locals can nonetheless entry a favourite location for recreation. Often, he screens the progress of his work. 

On the day of my go to, Justin was happy to see the grass he planted weeks in the past coming in sturdy. “Although these are small issues, I could make a distinction right here, right here, right here and right here. And fairly quickly, if you happen to zoom out…” Justin trails off and lets me fill the pause silently. Influence. Then he goes on. “This can be a very resilient place. However it could actually nonetheless break. The great thing about it being resilient is it could actually additionally get well.” 

In his first eight months at TNC, Justin has begun a variety of initiatives within the Clearwater Forest and a bit of the Hoh Rainforest. A few of his strategies embody thinning acres of thick understory brush with man-power and saws. 

Bushes are tipped to strategically protect their roots for engineered logjams to be positioned within the close by Clearwater River. Video by Leah Palmer

In different sections of the forest, he’s working with the Quinault Indian Nation to construct engineered logjams (ELJ). They harvest timber from mature forest stands by tipping them over with heavy equipment. This preserves the timber’ root methods to allow them to be collected, certain collectively, and positioned within the river to offer habitat and canopy for fish. This course of would naturally happen when mature timber fall into rivers, however some historic logging practices, particularly clearcutting proper as much as the river’s edge, has stunted these rhythms.  

In different sections of the forest, Justin plans to take part in what he playfully calls “hippie logging.” This strategy sees some logging as a conservation methodology—chopping down choose timber to be able to enable area for others to develop larger and stronger.  

Chatting with the number of his work, Justin displays, “I discover peace in variability. I’m cool with that.”  

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