Clear Creek Restoration Project
Watershed Level Project
Restoration professionals were recently busy restoring fish and wildlife habitat near Clear Creek, a tributary of the Lewis River in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The Gifford Pinchot Task Force helped secure funding from Ecotrust’s Whole Watershed Restoration Initiative and Wild Fish Conservancy and partnered with the Forest Service to remove eight miles of road.
These roads were strategically identified for removal because they are in a key watershed for salmon recovery and benefit elk, gray wolves, and other wildlife by expanding the unroaded area around Spencer Ridge Roadless Area by 3,000 acres.
The Spencer Ridge Roadless Area, in which Clear Creek is located, is nestled between the Dark Divide and the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. Removing these roads will create a 3,000 acre area without roads to the east, south, and west of the Spencer Ridge Roadless Area, which will enhance connections between these two important core habitat zones. By expanding the unroaded habitat around Spencer Ridge we are promoting the recovery of salmon and resident fish and wildlife that depend on unroaded areas like elk, wolves, and wolverine.
The Task Force and our collaborative partners also considered recreation needs: part of how roads are identified and prioritized for restoration is a consideration of access needs for other uses. These specific roads have limited recreation access needs and are therefore ideal roads for restoration.
The removal of these roads not only benefits fish and wildlife, but also local communities through the direct employment of restoration contractors. A recent University of Oregon study estimates that between 13 and 29 jobs are created or retained, and more than $2.1 million in economic activity is generated, for every $1 million invested in watershed restoration (Nielson-Pincus 2010). Therefore restoration of these three roads, which was a $200,000 dollar investment, contributed 3-6 jobs and $420,000 in economic activity. The contractors that have so far been engaged hail from Randle and Glenwood Washington, small, local, rural communities that benefit from the economic impact.
Removal of the roads was ranked as a high priority in the Task Force’s restoration plan (see Restoring Volcano Country) for the recovery of wild salmon and steelhead as well as wolves and therefore takes us another step further in realizing our vision of a restored and healthy forest.