Favoring fish over people

Landowners, boaters and floaters should be concerned about the "draft principles" regulatory controls proposed by the Snoqualmie Watershed Forum, which is composed of citizens and city and county officials.

Sprinkled through the proposed regulations are requirements for prohibiting the removal of woody debris from waterways, installing large woody debris (LWD) into streams where deemed advantageous for fish, and for preserving/restoring tree buffers "of at least 100 feet ... along all classes of streams." The treed buffers are to provide the LWD for future stream fall-ins.

That previous generations considered stream debris as hazardous to navigation, and contributing to flooding, is proved by the continued existence in state law of several sections requiring the removal of debris from streams. The removal requirements were in effect starting in 1921 and continue through today, including the years of abundant fish returns.

It is even claimed in the proposed regulations that trees promote bank stabilization, although it's known that when trees uproot into streams, they de-stabilize the banks by breaking out huge earth chunks along with the tree roots. And of course, once in-stream, water often deflects around the LWD and further erodes the banks.

The rules do admit that sometimes, when LWD poses "an imminent threat to public infrastructure" it "should be moved" after obtaining a permit. (As to obtaining a permit, it should be noted that the arduous permit process resulted in Swamp Creek flooding because King County was unable to obtain the necessary permits in time.)

Did readers notice that the LWD should be moved, not removed? "... it should be put back into the system at a location where the lack of large woody debris has been identified as a problem."

Families floating downstream will be alerted by warning signs "of the potential hazard posed by nearby log jams." Ha! I can see it now. The family tubes from upstream to where they'll be picked up downstream. Midway, in a roadless wooded area, they're warned of danger ahead. Maybe all family members will be able to scoot around; maybe some will be sucked under. LWD jams can be, and have been, killers.

The draft rules also call for relocating public infrastructure away from streams. There's been no cost analysis for that, or for the cost of moving LWD from one place to another, or for government liability caused by regulations that endanger the public. These regulatory proposals are a heedless favoring of fish over people, and a prime example of "best available science," which in reality is goals-oriented non-science.

Maxine Keesling


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