This summer, the Nisqually Tribe, the Nisqually Land Trust and the South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group will tack on another 1.5 miles of restored habitat to Ohop Creek.
Over a century ago farmers turned the creek into a straight-flowing ditch in an attempt to dry out the valley floor and create cattle pasture. However, deep clay deposits in the soil continued to hold water year round, and despite the failed effort to completely dry the valley the stream remained channelized.
The Ohop Creek restoration will include digging an entirely new channel as well as adding other features, such as logjams and deep pools, that will provide habitat for salmon.
Salmon habitat restoration on the creek began in 2009 with a repaired one-mile channel just upstream of the new site. That channel was constructed to restore a sinuous stream that connected to its floodplain. The floodplain, now replanted with native vegetation, re-creates 80 acres of healthy riparian habitat that controls water temperatures and stabilizes the stream banks.
Ohop Creek is one of two major tributaries to the Nisqually River that can support chinook salmon and steelhead, both of which are listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.