Seabeck fish barrier removal proposed to DOE

Department of Ecology is currently evaluating project to determine what action may be required

The Department of Ecology recently received applications from 12 projects in the state of Washington, including the Seabeck Creek Fish Barrier removal, requesting Section 401 of the Clean Water Act and/or Coastal Zone Management Act Federal Consistency.

Section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act provides states with the authority to ensure that federal agencies will not issue permits or licenses that violate water quality standards, or other applicable authorities, of a state or tribe through a process known as water quality certification, according to the Association of State Wetland Managers.

According to the Office for Coastal Management, federal consistency requires that federal actions, within and outside the coastal zone, which have reasonably foreseeable effects on any coastal use [land or water] or natural resource of the coastal zone be consistent with the enforceable policies of a state’s federally approved coastal management program.

DOE is finishing up gathering comments from the public, state and local agencies, tribes, and other interested parties regarding the impacts of each proposed activity.

Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group is the applicant for the Seabeck Creek Fish Barrier removal project. The group strives to ensure that wild salmon are abundant in the Pacific Northwest through research.

Seabeck Creek is one of four Hood Canal Intensively Monitored Watersheds, and the Department of Fish and Wildlife IMW program is designed to determine whether and how habitat restoration activities influence the abundance of salmon and steelhead.

The creek is currently suffering from a legacy of industrial-scale logging and rural development, resulting in restricted fish passage and impaired hydrological processes. The lack of instream wood, channel roughness, and off-channel habitats culminate in the fish not being able to progress upstream to their critical spawning and rearing habitats due to a failed fish ladder and undersized culvert where the creek crosses Seabeck Holly Road NW.

Salmon such as coho, fall chum, and ESA listed Puget Sound steelhead can be found in Seabeck Creek. HCSEG’s restoration efforts have been in the works for the past 15 years and include replacing the undersized culvert with a 66-foot bridge span, as well as removing the failing fish ladder. The project aims to improve fish passage and allow floodwaters to pass unobstructed.