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The $380,000 Spyder Hoe
River Restoration Rolls On posted on 09/02/2011
Habitat restoration along the Salmon River was in full swing in August, fueled by the three-pronged effort of the U.S. Forest Service, the Sandy River Basin Watershed Council, and the Freshwater Trust.

“The opportunity to do this work is really valuable,” said Russ Plaeger, watershed coordinator for Sandy River Basin Watershed Council. “When people open their backyards, it makes this all possible. I’ve been so pleased by the community response.”

A side channel of the Salmon River along lower Welches Road was the team’s target for clearing invasive species, widening and deepening pools to create a better summer refuge for coho, and replacing two culverts to slow the velocity of the channel and make it more fish friendly.

All this, plus flood mitigation, was the result.

Members of Project YESS and the Youth Employment Institute (YEI) of Portland were the first to get their hands dirty on the side channel. These young volunteers feature high schoolers getting their GEDs (YESS), and high school freshmen intent on getting on a better path to success (YEI).

With USFS fish biologist Kathryn Arendt overseeing the entire project, the volunteers removed invasive species from the banks of the side channel, including the extraction of more than 3,000 policemen’s helmets. As each of these plants produce 800 to 2,500 seeds, the math underlines the importance of the work.

The half-mile long side channel then played host to R&B Construction’s Super Hoe – a spider-like behemoth that teetered on multiple legs, digging out the bottom, sloping the banks, placing boulders, and winching logs into spots for the future fish-friendly environment.

The $380,000 monster is one of three working Super Hoes on the west coast.

Next up is the replacement of two culverts by larger ones, squashed into an oval pattern with stream simulated bottoms of gravel and small cobble to provide shelter in the culverts for small fish.

Besides removing invasive species and providing a better coho spawning environment, the project created jobs – including hauling logs, equipment operation and culvert replacement work.

by Larry Berteau/MT



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