Balm Grove, Gales Creek, News

Gales Creek rerouted for fish habitat project at Balm Grove

Crews contracted by Clean Water Services diverted Gales Creek at Balm Grove this week to install logs and boulders as part of additional habitat structures being built for aquatic species.

The move, a temporary one, is the second time the stream course has been moved in as many years. Last fall, the creek was rerouted to allow for the removal of the Balm Grove Dam and the placement of several habitat structures.

The Balm Grove site shortly after the dam was removed. Photo: October 4, 2022 by Chas Hundley

Crews from contractor Biohabitats are expected to work 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the following days, with the possibility of later and Saturday hours.

Part of the installation first requires the collection and relocation of fish species in the path of construction, and Clean Water Services said plenty were found.

“Fish rescue numbers were impressive,” CWS said in an email.

“Salmon and lamprey are signs of a healthy habitat,” the agency added.

174 coho salmon, 23 steelhead, and 32 lamprey—likely Pacific lamprey, CWS said—were found and relocated, as were 730 dace (of the longnose and speckled varieties), 775 sculpin, one largescale sucker, one Pacific giant salamander, and 382 crawdads.

“Adding habitat structures will help these populations almost immediately,” Clean Water Services said. “The large wood structures downstream of the former dam will support spawning fish.”

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Chas Hundley is the editor of the Gales Creek Journal and sister news publications the Banks Post and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

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