The Skokomish River.
Credit: Neik09, flickr.
The film, which was first posted online in January and will be shown at the River Restoration Northwest festival in Portland, Oregon, on May 7, explores the connections between forest roads and the flooding and sediment buildup that threatens key fish habitat and the heritage of the indigenous Skokomish tribe.
Such issues have gained newfound currency with the recent news that the Olympic National Forest, which holds much of the watershed, will be receiving $450,000 in Legacy Roads and Trails funds to help with the decade-long effort to remove old logging roads and restore the Skokomish watershed.
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The Legacy Roads and Trails program began in 2007 as an effort to reduce the harmful impacts of Forest Service roads. These chiefly take the form of stream pollution, damaged fish and wildlife habitat and less recreational access.
Since then, Congress has appropriated $350 million, enabling the Forest Service to retire 5,000 miles of unneeded roads and repair 17,000 miles of roads and trails still in use, while creating thousands of jobs in rural communities. The watershed, much of which falls inside Olympic National Forest, has received only a small sliver of the $35 million that Congress appropriated this year for Legacy Roads and Trails.
Skokomish and The Wilderness Society
In 2013, a report released by The Wilderness Society found that the Legacy Roads and Trails program has already had a positive effect, though much remains to be done. Fortunately, we are already hard at work. The Wilderness Society has coordinated the Skokomish Watershed Action Team (SWAT) since the group’s inception in 2005. The SWAT contains representatives of more than two dozen organizations and landowners, including the Forest Service, Skokomish Tribe, state and county agencies, environmental groups and the timber industry.