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$318K to boost Sitkoh salmon production

State, feds and non-profits to begin stream rehabilitation

Posted: June 7, 2012 - 11:04pm

Government agencies and non-profit corporations joined forces to rehabilitate a Chichagof Island river, damaged by past logging practices.

The Sitkoh River, located about 12 miles west of Angoon, is scheduled to benefit from a $318,000 rehabilitation project.

“The goal is to restore the river’s capacity to produce salmon, steelhead, Dolly Varden and cutthroat trout,” according to a Forest Service press release.

The U.S. Forest Service Tongass National Forest division, Alaska Department of Fish & Game, Trout Unlimited and the Sitka Conservation Society are working together on the project.

The Tongass National Forest provides world class fishing opportunities, Paula Dobbyn, spokeswoman for Trout Unlimited, said. Tongass watershed restoration benefits everyone, she said.

“Local sport and commercial fishermen and sport fishermen from all over the world,” Dobbyn said.

The restoration project is part of the Forest Service transition efforts.

The Forest Service’s Transition Framework explores and supports “economic diversification and job creation in Southeast Alaska,” according to the Tongass National Forest website.

The Sitkoh remains productive, according to the Forest Service. Past timber harvest and road construction impacted the river.

“Projects such as the one at Sitkoh are a key component of the economic transition in the Tongass National Forest,” according to the Forest Service. The transition puts priority on young-growth timber management and restoration of salmon habitat. The Forest Service transition also focuses on job creation in emerging and established industries including ocean products, visitor services, timber and renewable energy.

Phase 1 of the restoration project reroutes 1,800-feet of the Sitkoh, which flows down an old logging road. Phase 2 adds large, woody debris to the river to create fish habitat.

• Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at russell.stigall@juneauempire.com.

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