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S'Klallam Tribe shares ecological lessons learned

Sometimes you need to take a step back to see the big picture.

The Jamestown S'Klallam's Natural Resources department did just that after spending 10 years and $7 million on the Jimmycomelately Creek's restoration.

In the "Jimmycomelately Ecosystem Restoration - Lessons Learned Report," environmental researchers outline which efforts worked and which projects they wouldn't suggest other agencies try.

"It's a good tool for a community group, nonprofit or an agency looking to do a restoration project or even a college student interested in habitat restoration," said Byron Rot, Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe habitat program manager and co-author of the report.

The report is not technical. Instead, the document spells out the ups and downs of the different projects in an interesting and readable format.

"The story we will tell in this report is one of the power of restoration, the power to heal not only a wounded landscape but people's connection to the land and each other," the report reads.

The idea for restoring the 15.4-square-mile ecosystem started in late 1996, following a massive rainstorm that flooded the creek, Old Blyn Highway and U.S. Highway 101 near the tribal center. Within days, discussions began about how to correct the chronic flooding and habitat problems.

These conversations evolved into what became the "The Jimmy Project."

During the eight years it took to complete the four-phase project, the tribe and its major partners including local property owners, Clallam County Conservation District, Clallam County, Washington departments of transportation and fish and wildlife, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, restored the creek and its estuary to a more natural state.

"The unofficial mantra of the Jimmy Project partners was, 'It's amazing how much can be accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit,'" said Ann Seiter, former Jamestown Natural Resources director, in the report.

Work included diverting and rerouting the creek back to its historical path, removing remnants of an old log yard and restoring the estuary, and replacing two small culverts with a new bridge on Highway 101 to allow for proper flooding and fish and wildlife passage.

The report is broken down into 14 sections. They detail the work that was put into every step, including partnership development, communication techniques, engineering and design, property acquisition, permitting and monitoring of the finished product.

Each chapter ends with a Lessons Learned section, recommending how to approach the challenges of each step and what could have been done differently.

The report is meant to describe the process of a large scale, multi-agency restoration with suggestions to do it even better, although the Jimmy Project has had a positive impact on the river and its ability to foster life.

"Within 24 hours of diverting Jimmycomelately Creek into its new channel, adult coho salmon were seen swimming upstream to spawn," the report reads.

"The Jimmycomelately Ecosystem Restoration - Lessons Learned Report" can be found online at the tribe's Web site, www.jamestowntribe.org. To find it, click on "Programs," then "Natural Resources" and "Jimmycomelately Restoration."





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