Agencies that are partners in the effort to recover salmon in the Nisqually watershed will stage a groundbreaking ceremony Saturday for a project involving Ohop Creek.
Nisqually Land Trust, Nisqually Indian Tribe and South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group are the hosts of the ceremony scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at a site near Eatonville. A map of the location is available at http://goo.gl/vBcuke.
Organizers said the occasion is a major step in the improvement of salmon habitat in an additional 1.5 miles of the creek, which they described as a vital tributary to the Nisqually River.
The Ohop Creek restoration will include digging an entirely new creek channel and adding other features, such as logjams and deep pools that will provide new habitat for salmon.
Restoration of salmon habitat restoration on the Ohop began in 2009 with repairs of a one-mile channel just upstream of the site of the new project. More than a century ago, the creek had been realigned by farmers into a straight ditch in an attempt to create dry pastureland.
Early results of that 2009 restoration work include increased use by salmon and the return of wildlife species, such as elk, that officials said hadn’t been seen in the Ohop Valley for decades. Efforts since then have included groups of students planting trees near the creek last fall in conjunction with the Nisqually River Council.
Ohop Creek is one of two major tributaries to the Nisqually River that can support chinook salmon and steelhead trout. Both populations are listed as “threatened” under the federal Endangered Species Act.
The creek also supports coho and pink salmon and cutthroat trout.