Monday January 23, 2023

The Columbian

A habitat restoration project planned for the East Fork Lewis River could be in jeopardy if Gov. Jay Inslee’s proposed budget is passed by the Legislature. The Clark County Council is hoping its support for the project will encourage legislators to provide funding beyond what’s included in Inslee’s budget.

The project would begin near Daybreak Regional Park and encompass the former gravel mining operation known as the Ridgefield pits upstream from La Center.

Flooding in 1995 and 1996 shifted the course of the East Fork Lewis River and flooded the abandoned mining pits. In the nearly two decades since, salmon and steelhead spawning has been eliminated and rearing opportunities have been significantly reduced.

“The warm-water ponds (created by the pit mines) block access for fish to the upper portion of the watershed, and warm-water ponds benefit fish that prey on salmon,” Elaine Placido, executive director for Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership, said previously. “It’s a pretty inhospitable area for salmon in that portion of the river.”

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