By Ann McCreary
A fish habitat restoration project about 10 miles up the Twisp River will continue next summer after crews ran out of time to complete work in the river last month.
The Newby Narrows Fish Habitat Enhancement Project was expected to be completed this summer, but crews were unable to finish work during the short time frame that construction work is allowed to take place in the river, said Hans Smith, a biologist with the Yakama Nation Fisheries.
The project, located upstream of Little Bridge Creek, includes installing eight large wood structures in the river to improve habitat diversity. More than 200 trees were delivered to the site to build the structures.
Work in the river was only possible during the month of July under regulations established by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to “protect the same fish we’re trying to restore,” Smith said. After July, spring Chinook begin returning to spawn in the river, he said.
About three more wood structures still need to be installed in the river, and that work must wait until next July, Smith said.
A temporary bridge built over the Twisp River as part of the project will need to be removed and then put back in place next summer, because it was not designed to withstand high water flows that occur in spring, he said.
The project also includes restoring and reconnecting a former side channel to the river.
The section of river selected for restoration once provided good habitat for salmon spawning and rearing due to the surrounding floodplain, but it has been altered by human activity, Smith said.
Two other large restoration projects in the Methow Valley that began this summer are nearing completion.
The Twisp Ponds side channel restoration in the lower Twisp River, another Yakama Nation Fisheries project, is finishing excavation of two former side channels near the river and restoring vegetation to benefit juvenile spring Chinook salmon and steelhead.
The Silver side channel project on the east side of the Methow River about five miles south of Twisp has finished work on restructuring the lower part of a side channel and installing small logjams to create pools and alcoves to provide better habitat for juvenile spring Chinook and steelhead.
The project, conducted by the Cascade Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group, created a deeper, narrower channel and is completing revegetation of five acres of wetlands and riparian and floodplain habitat.