The State Lands Restoration and Enhancement category provides funding to two state agencies to help repair damaged plant and animal habitat. These grants focus on resource preservation and protection of public lands. Projects in this category help bring important natural areas and resources back to their original functions by improving the self sustaining and ecological functionality of sites.
The funding from this grant was for the construction of river stabilization structures to enhance and protect wildlife and fish habitat along the North Fork Toutle River, as it flows through the Mudflow Unit of the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area. Several large structures were built using large wood/harvested trees to lessen bank erosion and increase river channel stabilization. The work was conducted by the WDFW Lacey Construction Crew with the engineering and surveying of the structures performed by WDFW Habitat Engineers. Due to the limited funding of this project, high priority areas were established and these sites were given significant importance in the project. These high priority areas were sites that would have the highest benefit to the surrounding habitat and the most likely to succeed and/or stop and reduce any further habitat losses. Construction of the large wood structures was initiated in October of 2016 and stopped in Mid-November 2016. A total of nine structures were built and/or enhanced existing structures. Due to extreme weather conditions and significant rainfall during implementation, construction was slowed significantly and not all of the planned structures were built before funding ran out. There were significant construction materials left unused and additional structures will be built with the left-over large wood with funding coming from the wildlife area budget. This additional construction using wildlife area funds was only possible due to an increased variance of funds due to a staff vacancy. The structures that were completed have already proven their worth and have lessened habitat loss by stabilizing the bank and river channel. This past winter saw several high water events in the area and the structures have undoubtedly saved habitat. Other areas on the wildlife area that do not have these types of structures along the bank have seen some of the highest erosion in decades. After the structures were build we also used volunteers during a two-day work party to plant about 6,000 trees and shrubs along the riverbank to help establish and enhance the Riparian Protection habitat along the river. The vast majority of the trees that were planted were red alder and water birch.