From providing hands-on stewardship opportunities for the community, working in partnership with teachers and students, or offering educational activities that strengthen public interest in the environment, the Lewis County Stream Team is making a difference in the Chehalis River Basin in southwest Washington.
Formed in January 2022, the stream team is partially funded by our Office of Chehalis Basin (OCB) and supported by the Lewis Conservation District. The team’s activities are helping support the Chehalis Basin Strategy to restore aquatic species habitat and reduce flood-related damage in the Chehalis Basin.
For example, stream team volunteers planted more than 600 native trees along Mill Creek in Adna to create fish and wildlife habitat.
South Fork Newaukum project
After floods deluged many parts of the Basin last January, OCB and Lewis Conservation District worked together this fall to identify properties where erosion and flooding was threatening homes. OCB and the conservation district selected a project on the South Fork Newaukum River.
“Flows from last year’s flood had moved the river, threatening the safety of several home sites in the area,” said Lewis Conservation District manager Bob Amrine. “Our project was designed to protect a home in imminent danger of flooding and erosion.”
After working with a consultant to design the project, the conservation district hired a contractor to install a log crib wall and large woody debris to support and strengthen the bank around a bend in the river.
On Nov. 5, more than a dozen stream team volunteers and conservation district members planted 100 willow stakes and 70 potted trees at the site including western red cedar, red osier dogwood and Douglas fir. The trees will help control erosion and filter nutrients while providing shade and habitat complexity for aquatic species.
Working with willing landowners, building partnerships
Fosnacht said the stream team looks for willing landowners excited to plant native trees and vegetation along fish bearing streams with a focus on places with a sparse riparian buffer. To attract wildlife, they plant flowering native species that provide fruit and flowers for birds and pollinating insects.
Besides restoration projects, the stream team is building partnerships with other organizations and agencies to provide opportunities for the community to engage in restoration and education in the Basin. The team has worked closely with Lewis County Noxious Weed Control Board, Grays Harbor Stream Team and Chehalis River Basin Land Trust.
The outreach is working. Fosnacht said 100 volunteers have signed up to participate.
In September, the stream team worked with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to hold an educational workshop on freshwater mussels and lampreys in the Basin. The event included hands on demonstrations.
"The Lewis County Stream Team is an excellent way to bring people together who are passionate about salmon and protecting waterways,” Fosnacht said. “It is amazing to see the outpouring of support from volunteers wanting to make a difference. Our goal is to provide fun, accessible opportunities for the community to learn about aquatic species, native plants, and restoration projects around the Chehalis Basin.”
For more information about joining the stream team, visit the Lewis Conservation District website, call (360) 996-4560 or email email@example.com.