Restoring Washington’s troubled Skokomish watershed

On Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, a hard-working restoration collaborative group, the Skokomish Watershed Action Team, has made great strides by bringing together very diverse interests — including Forest Service representatives, Congressman Norm Dicks and other government officials, Skokomish tribe members, construction and timber companies, local landowners, and environmental groups — to focus on ecological restoration in one of the Northwest’s most troubled watersheds.

Leading the award-winning group is TWS’ own, Mike Anderson, Senior Resource Analyst.

The SWAT’s work has been well received on the local and regional level, but it is now recognized internationally as well! The World Forestry Congress (WFC) will feature the Skokomish Watershed Action Team’s work as one of three U.S. restoration case studies at their conference in Argentina in October 2009.

Having SWAT’s work showcased at the WFC conference will bring larger recognition to watershed restoration and successful collaboration processes.

Background on Skokomish Watershed Action Team

SWAT formed in 2005 to provide mutual support for a wide range of watershed restoration activities in the Skokomish River basin. “SWAT is a very action-oriented coalition,” explains Mike Anderson. “We work together to plan restoration projects and then raise the money needed to accomplish them. We have found a lot of success by operating in areas where there is broad agreement.”

The Skokomish River is the largest source of freshwater for Hood Canal and, unfortunately, is also the most frequently flooded river in Washington State. The river is home to four species of salmon and trout that are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The SWAT concentrates their action on Forest Service lands above the Skokomish River floodplain while ensuring collaboration throughout the basin.

The group’s mission is “to work towards common ecological and economic goals in the Skokomish River watershed through collaborative basin restoration projects.”

Recent accomplishments in the upper watershed include:

  • Completion of 9.6 miles of road decommissioning and road-to-trail conversion
  • Design of a resident fish barrier removal on a creek
  • Environmental review for 31.6 miles of future road decommissioning

The Skokomish restoration effort exemplifies the kind of collaborative work that The Wilderness Society does so well. We hope that this successful partnership will inspire others to take action to help protect and restore America’s wild places.