Quinault Indian Nation uses Conservation Programs to Restore a
Site 8- Moses Prairie Road Abandonment
Whale Creek, Grays Harbor
Quinault Indian Nation (QIN) removes an old stringer bridge that partially
blocked the stream and about ½ mile of road prism in order to restore Moses
Prairie to its historic ecological and hydraulic functions.
The QIN's Department of Natural Resources provided input from their staff and
some funding. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) partnered with the QIN to help replace
three old stringer bridges with new
fish passable bridges on the 4600 Loop road just west of Moses Prairie. The
Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
partnered with the QIN in removal of a collapsing stringer bridge and about ½
mile of road prism at the south end of Moses Prairie (also 4600 Loop road), a
culvert replacement and a culvert removal with a bridge installation on the next
road (4610 road which is part of the 4600 loop road system) just a little
further south and west of the road removal project.
The 4600 Loop road systems caused an impounding of water which ultimately
changed the natural hydraulics of the wet prairie know as Moses Prairie. Disturbance caused by the road system and changes in hydraulics of the
site also changed other ecological functions, such as changes in native
vegetation species diversity and abundance and introduction of invasive species
along wet prairie edges. A reported decline in use by big game; beavers
treated as pests with their native activities and populations constantly
disrupted; and potential lethal stranding of Olympic mudminnows after storm
events. Furthermore, impounded water would overflow roads each winter,
especially during storm events and reduce the water quality in Whale Creek, thus
affecting quality of stream habitat for bull trout and salmonoid species.
Moreover, the 4610 road, which is in the path of water flow from Moses Prairie
through small braided streams and wetlands to Whale Creek, had two blocked
culverts, one of which was a fish barrier. These blocked culverts also created
a dynamic that caused flood waters from storm events to overflow the 4610
road and increase sediment delivery to Whale Creek.
The QIN secured an EPA Water Quality Grant for removal of three older stringer
bridges with narrower channels and installation of new fish passable bridges
with wider open channels to help stop overflowing of the road systems and
sediment delivery to Whale Creek. NRCS, through the Wildlife Habitat Incentives
Program (WHIP), provided funding and technical assistance for removal of the
collapsing stringer bridge and ½ mile road segment just south of Moses Prairie.
In addition, the removed road segment was re-vegetated with weed control to
encourage native vegetative species and discourage invasive vegetative species.
Both of these project phases have been successfully completed. In the current
phase of the Moses Prairie restoration, NRCS is assisting the QIN through the
Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and technical assistance with
replacement of two fish barrier culverts. One is replaced with a concrete box
culvert and the other is replaced with a low profile bridge. In addition, invasive plant species are being treated and road sides will be treated with
critical area seeding with a species mix for erosion control.
Sometimes it is best to take on a huge restoration effort all at once in order
to achieve a desired goal and sometimes it is best to start small and evaluate
how far each smaller effort moves you towards your goal. The QIN started with two
EPA funded bridges to see if they would solve the problem. They then added a
third bridge and the NRCS WHIP project and this year they are completing the
NRCS EQIP project. In this way the QIN can evaluate progress and decide if more
effort is needed to achieve their goals. In addition, there is less stress on
the QIN budgets and staff time as well as smaller contracts from funding
sources. This approach has worked well for Moses Prairie and the Whale Creek
Currently, overflowing the road system during storm events has decreased which
in turn decreased sediment deliver to Whale Creek. During storm events, flood waters are no longer impounded within Moses Prairie but flows more freely
to Whale Creek and other wetland complexes. According to the QIN wildlife
biologist, usage of Moses Prairie by big game has increased. The Olympic mudminnow is less likely to be stranded on the road systems after storm events.
Beavers are no longer considered pests to be dealt with at this site but
simply a part of the ecosystem.
Carri Gaines, NRCS, Quinault Indian Nation (360) 276-8215, ext. 275