News Tribune: Tacoma Power improves fish passage on North Fork Skokomish

The Tacoma News Tribune reported on the latest project of Tacoma Power’s hydroelectric program on the North Fork of the Skokomish River, as part of the 2009 settlement with the Skokomish Tribe.

While adjustments have made to the dams on the river to allow for improved fish passage, a natural feature called Little Falls, two miles downstream from Cushman Dam No. 2, was too steep for fish to pass.

From the story:

So the utility collaborated with tribal officials, environmental consultants, and regulatory agencies to create a more natural-looking fish ladder at the Mason County location. They came up with a plan to ease fish passage by carving ascending resting pools into existing bedrock in the two channels of Little Falls.

The site presented challenges. Located 200 feet down a steep canyon trail, it required that all equipment was either hand carried, or helicoptered in, McCarty said. Workers did the bulk of work using jack hammers or hand chippers, then loaded debris into sacks which were helicoptered out.


Joseph Pavel, whose great-grandfather, George Adams, filed the first lawsuits against Tacoma soon after construction of the Cushman dams in 1926 and 1930, says the Little Falls project is an outgrowth of the cooperative relationship the tribe and utility have forged.

“We entered into this settlement working hard to implement positive conditions,” said Pavel, the tribe’s natural resources director. “We’ve developed a real positive working relationship.”


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