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DEEP CREEK DAMAGE SHOWS NEED FOR STRONG 'CUMULATIVE EFFECTS' LAWS, NORTHWEST INDIAN FISHERIES COMMISSION SAYS

DEEP CREEK DAMAGE SHOWS NEED FOR STRONG 'CUMULATIVE EFFECTS' LAWS,
 NORTHWEST INDIAN FISHERIES COMMISSION SAYS
 OLYMPIA, Wash., March 4 /PRNewswire/ -- The following was released today by the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission (NWIFC):
 A large landslide that recently clogged an important fish-bearing stream on the Olympic Peninsula is a vivid reminder that land-use laws intended to protect streams, rivers and other "sensitive areas" are weak and must be strengthened, tribal leaders said.
 Roughly 23,000 cubic yards of a steep, clearcut hillside above Deep Creek slid downhill, sending thousands of yards of mud and debris into the stream, west of Port Angeles.
 By comparison, one standard dump truck has a capacity of 10 cubic yards. That means 2,300 dump trucks worth of stream-choking material slid down the hillside, cutting off several miles of excellent salmon and steelhead spawning habitat upstream from the slide and burying downstream habitat.
 What has happened to Deep Creek is a classic example of "cumulative effects," said Bill Frank Jr., chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission.
 "This is what's happening statewide," he said. "You can go to just about any area of Washington and find these types of problems. Each incident should remind us of the need to get tougher land-use regulations into law."
 Cumulative effects is defined as: "Changes to the environment caused by the interaction of natural ecosystem processes with the effects of two or more forest practices." The forest practices in Deep Creek's watershed includes clearcut logging, roadbuilding and reforestation.
 "Despite earlier attempts to prevent it, the devastation that has occurred in this watershed is extensive," said Rachel Kowalski, fisheries manager for the Elwha S'Klallam Tribe. "We did try to prevent this from happening -- we had meetings before there was extensive logging in the watershed -- but the damage occurred anyway. Now we're trying to heal what's been damaged."
 The State of Washington's Forest Practices Board has begun its review of a proposed cumulative effects package. Public hearings have been scheduled for April 21-24, and the board is expected to adopt its new plan early this summer, after issuing a final environmental impact statement.
 Doreen Maloney, fisheries manager for the Upper Skagit Tribe and the co-chair of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission's Environmental Policy Committee, testified to the State Forest Practice Board Feb. 11. She told the board the tribes, which support the current proposal addressing cumulative impacts to the fish and water resources of the state, would be commenting in support of the proposed policy and offering any additional comments during a 30-day comment period following the meeting.
 Nearly every region of the state has its own "Deep Creek:"
 - The Hoh River watershed on the north-central coast is experiencing heavy sedimentation problems after decades of clearcutting.
 - Deer Creek, the famous steelhead-producing tributary of the Stillaguamish River northeast of Everett has been suffering extreme sedimentation for years as thousands of yards of material slough off into the stream.
 - A massive landslide temporarily blocked the Nisqually River early last year, damaging crucial spawning areas and sending a choking cloud of silt into the glacier-fed river. In this instance, the large river managed to cut through the slide, and the river is now flowing freely.
 "Each of these situations shows why we must have the legal tools to deal with them before they become big problems," Frank said.
 "Existing tools, such as the Forest Practices Act, the Timber, Fish and Wildlife Agreement and sensitive areas ordinances, address riparian management zones, harvest setbacks from rivers, streams and steep slopes," he said. "But none of them go far enough. None of them really address the cumulative effects of all the land-use activities in the watershed."
 State agencies reviewing proposed timber cuts look at each plan individually. The tribes have supported a more holistic review of the land-use activity within the potentially impacted watershed. That's what planning by cumulative effects is all about.
 "Maybe one cut of 60 acres on its own won't mean much individually to a watershed," Frank said. "But when you step back and look at the cumulative effect that all of these cuts combined can have on a watershed, it becomes clear for the need of cumulative effects regulations.
 "And when you add to all the clearcuts the potential for unstable ground, precipitation patterns or other natural factors, you can end up with big problems in a watershed," he said. That's just common sense.
 "Leaving standing trees along streams keep water temperatures cooler, and that's important for salmon, trout and other fish. More trees mean less erosion of soil into streams, which means protection of the gravel salmon and other fish need to spawn," Frank said. "Aside from the intrinsic aesthetic values standing trees have, their benefits to the fish and wildlife are immense. Elk, deer and other animals need standing trees for cover -- both from hunters and from winter's cold weather. There are dozens of forest animals that need healthy standing trees for survival.
 "Cumulative effects laws are needed to help maintain our quality of life," said Frank. "We all have the right to live in a healthy ecosystem with clean streams that provide high-quality habitat for the salmon and other wildlife so important to the Pacific Northwest. This is part of our common identity.
 "The state has a legal obligation to protect fisheries for the public, and one way it can do so is to strengthen land-use laws that impact these fisheries," he said.
 Many cities -- from small rural areas to the biggest cities in the state -- rely upon rivers and streams for their municipal water supplies, Frank pointed out.
 "It's in the public's best interest that these magnificent natural resources be protected for future generations. Having cumulative effects laws on the books will help preserve what we have," he said.
 Restoration is what's needed on Deep Creek now that the damage has been done. But despite past problems in the watershed, Kowalski said the future of Deep Creek could be bright.
 The Elwha S'Klallam Tribe closed its fisheries on the stream as a precautionary step to give the fish a better chance at survival in the degraded habitat, she said. State fisheries officials, following the tribe's lead, moved to close their fisheries on the creek, too.
 Kowalski said the tribe is working with landowners in the watershed, the U.S. Forest Service and ITT-Rayonier, to develop a watershed management plan. Emergency measures to clean up the creek and stabilize the slumping hillside are also underway.
 "If we can get a watershed management plan worked out, we might be able to get Deep Creek back into shape," Kowalski said. "But we have to work together, across many different boundaries, to accomplish a successful restoration on Deep Creek. This is only the beginning, too. The spring rains haven't even come to this watershed. How much more damage will there be?"
 "I hope similar cooperation can be found elsewhere, so the rest of Washington's 'Deep Creeks' can be healed," Frank said. "Strong cumulative effects laws will give us the framework to come together and solve these serious problems."
 -0- 3/4/92
 NOTE TO EDITORS: Photos are available upon request.
 /CONTACT: Doug Williams, Hood/Strait Information Office, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, 206-297-3422/ CO: Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission ST: Washington IN: PAP SU:


LM-JH -- SE010 -- 5201 03/04/92 19:44 EST
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