Thursday, January 14, 2010

Proposed King County Ordinance Threatens River Restoration Efforts

Large woody debris is an essential component of healthy salmon habiats. Wood is part of the habitat forming process and in the rivers around Puget Sound a century of stream cleaning, timber salvaging and logging have left most streams with very little woody debris compared to historical levels. One strategy for river restoration which has proven particularly beneficial is the addition of well planned engineered log jams. Now a proposed King County Ordinance threatens to limit where and how large woody debris can be added to streams. This is a misguided public safety effort driven by a few poorly informed river users who believe woody debris is a public safety issue.

Nature is not inherently safe and boats/rafters who fail to use good judgment on our local rivers will be in danger. In reality Large Woody Debris additions pose very little public safety risk if boaters are properly cautious and are not under the influence of alcohol. It is not King County's job to make rivers obstruction free recreation corridors, rivers are dynamic, complex habitats and should be managed accordingly. River users have the responsibility to protect themselves and this ordinance would do FAR more harm than good.

Please write King County and tell them not to adopt this misguided ordinance. Our Rivers need all the help they can get, boaters, and intertubers face very little risk if they use good judgment.

Information on the County website regarding the proposed ordinance.

Comments can be sent by February 19th to:

Department of Natural Resources and Parks
ATTN: Cathy Jimenez
201 South Jackson Street, Room 600
Seattle, WA 98104-3855


Here's a form letter. Feel free to change it.

Cathy Jimenez
201 South Jackson Street, Room 600
Seattle, WA 98104-3855

I am writing you to voice my opposition to proposed county ordinance 16581. The addition of large woody debris to stream ecosystems is a critical component of any habitat restoration strategy and imposing onerous recreational safety standards could adversely affect restoration efforts by limiting the implementation of these vital habitat structures. Woody debris placement has been an effective means of increasing river habitat complexity which benefits our county by providing quality riverine habitat for threatened salmon and other species. Rivers are dynamic places which are never guaranteed to be safe, however with cautious boating and recreation the risk posed by engineered log jams is extremely trivial. Most incidents of boating related fatalities or injuries are related to poor judgment and the over consumption of alcohol.

The best way to address boater safety issues is by educating river users about the risks posed by boating and how to use the river safely. Over the last decade King County has been a national leader in stream restoration and stewardship and this measure represents a major step backwards. Please do not adopt ordinance 16581 as it would place undue regulations on an important habitat restoration activity in our county.


Steel Head

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