Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Quinault River Migration

A few years ago the Quinault Indians filed appeal of a timber harvest application arguing that the the proposed harvest was within the channel migration zone of the Quinault River. I am not fully up on the status of that case other than I know that the initial ruling from the Forest Practices Appeals Board was favorable to the tribe's appeal versus the property owner/timber owner. The tribe, the timber company and the Department of Natural Resources, the regulatory agency that approved the forest practice, all had somewhat different takes on the CMZ and just how to interpret the forest practice law and the forest practice manual and how applicable the specific language in the manual is on the matter. 

The firs two images show that the Quinault River is migrating southward.

1994 with red line marking southern edge of active channel area

2012 image showing that the river is moving south

The Quinault Tribe has a very keen interest in salmon habitat on the Quinault River as the river passes through their reservation on the west side of the Olympic Peninsula. The width of the riparian buffer is based on the channel migration zone. The tree leave area is defined by the required buffer as measured from a where the channel is expected to migrate over time. In this case the rapid southward migration meant that more trees would be left than than the logging outfit applied to harvest. It is easy to see that an unfavorable channel migration would reduce the expected value of a tree stand. And in reverse how harvesting of trees (or development) might mean that the river would be left with no large wood buffer after migrating to a new channel. The role of the road was a key part of the appeal and how the Board Manual treats roads.

A little overview of the Quinault watershed steep tributary streams in the area shows why the river might be so prone to migrate. Lots of landslides putting plugs of sediment into the system.

2009 Aerial

Same location is 2013 with large landslide into tributary stream

2009 aerial

Same location in 2013

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

Really interesting. Thanks.