Time flies like an arrow and although it seems improbable, the Hoonah Native Forest Partnership (HNFP) is in its third year of work. Over the past two field seasons, local crews have spent countless hours learning-and-doing natural resource assessment, and the resulting data are being used to generate an extensive list of projects to manage the land, generate subsistence resources, and fulfill landowner management objectives. The final management plan will be written at the end of this year, and project implementation will begin next summer. To prepare for some of the future implementation work U.S. Forest Service Hydrologists, Katherine Prussian, Marty Becker, and Heath Whitacre, arranged a three day stream restoration workshop to simultaneously train the HNFP local workforce and improve stream function of a local salmon stream.

Restoration is necessary when human activity alters a stream to a point where it does not support fish or function properly. The restoration site had only one pool in a half-mile stretch of river, and was chosen because logging had removed trees in the riparian cooridor, and it lacked wood in-stream to slow down water, hold bed-load, and create fish spawning/rearing habitat. Due to that, any structure placed at this site will have an immediate, positive effect for the channel and for fish, and will hopefully improve the stream until trees grow large enough to fall into the tributary again.

This work is important to help this stream because this stream lacks material needed to build pools and habitat for fish.

— Phillip Sharclane, HNFP Crew

The objectives of the hands-on workshop were to review how to select restoration sites, source restoration logs, and complete a stream restoration using hand-tools. Choosing where to place restoration structures in-the stream is important when doing stream restoration to maximize the benefit of the structure to the stream and reduce the risk of high water flushing the new structure downstream.  A key lesson of the workshop was learning to place structures that enhance existing pools and feature. The before and after pictures (Right) of a few of the sites show off how the stream channel changed based on the work of the crews. 

We would like to raise the bed elevation to improve the function and condition of the channel and help with fish habitat…This opportunity is a great example of an all-lands perspective where multiple ownerships are working together for a common goal to restore the landscape.

–Katherine Prussian, U.S. Forest Service

Stream restorations like this project can increase salmon return by creating better habitat for spawning and rearing salmon. Promoting salmon production is a key aspect of the HNFP as they are a highly important community resource and can be actively managed for by each of the three landowners. The data collected by  the Hoonah Native Forest Partnership crews in 2015 – 2017 will ultimately identify many stream restoration opportunities to restore stream function to streams impacted by human activities such as logging or road creation/failure. Future projects will seek to improve stream conditions for salmon by incorporating the innovative techniques learned during this workshop and may be expanded to larger projects using machinery.

Thank you to all of the partners (U.S. Forest Service, Huna Totem Corporation, Hoonah Indian Association) that made this work possible! 

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