Logging not to blame for clog
Creek-choking gravel came from unlogged land


JAMES GELUSO - Skagit Valley Herald

Skagit Valley, WA - 3/23/02 - A wash of gravel down Mill Creek that tore up a piece of the South Skagit Highway and buried fish habitat last month was only partially caused by logging, according to a state hydrologist.

The creek, which flows into the Skagit River from the south near Birdsview, flooded on Feb. 22, a day of heavy rains that saw the Skagit and other Western Washington rivers rise. Gravel flowing down the creek choked the channel under the South Skagit Highway bridge, forcing the creek out of its bed, where it chewed a hole more than half the width of the highway through the pavement. The gravel also buried spawning areas used by salmon and trout.

Some owners of neighboring property initially blamed logging for the slides. But Jeff Grizzel, a forest hydrologist with the state Department of Natural Resources, said most of the gravel apparently came from landslides on unlogged land owned by the U.S. Forest Service.

After surveying the area by air and by foot, Grizzel said 15 to 20 landslides on Forest Service land were triggered by storms Jan. 8-9. About six slides were on logged land and were related to that logging, he estimated.

The slides released gravel and large amounts of wood that tore at the sides of the stream, destabilizing them and releasing even more gravel into the channel, he said.

Most of the gravel that ended up at the South Skagit Highway bridge had been washed partway down the channel in January, he said. The Feb. 22 storm pushed the sediment the rest of the way.

Although most of the problem was not due to logging, Grizzel noted that most of the logging done in the area would not be allowed under rules adopted last July. The slopes in that area are too steep to be harvested under current standards, he said.

In addition, the logging road in the area, where some of the slides started, must be improved by 2015 under another new set of rules.

Grizzel said he couldn’t determine which company had done the logging or owned the land, thanks to a complex and often-changing land ownership pattern on the slopes.



In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only. [Ref. http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml]

Back to Current Edition Citizen Review Archive LINKS Search This Site