Nisqually Indian Tribe is helping a local landowner reclaim a stretch
of Tanwax Creek for salmon.
Schools played a role in restoring the creek, volunteering student
labor through mid-October.
Elementary and Fort Stevens Elementary students volunteered two
hours each on Oct. 7. Prairie Elementary and Mill Pond Elementary
students volunteered two hours each on Oct. 9. Mill Pond and Prairie
returned Tuesday, Oct. 14. Yelm High School went out on Oct. 16.
technicians, volunteers and school groups are clearing a five-acre
infestation of reed canary grass along the creek, allowing coho
salmon to access important habitat on James Tucker’s property.
volunteers and school groups are organized by the tribe’s Stream
Stewards program, the Nisqually River Education Project and the
Pierce Conservation District.
tribe is using a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
paired with funds that Tucker is receiving from the Natural Resources
Conservation Service to buy and plant native plants that will eventually
out-compete the invasive grass.
lower five miles of Tanwax Creek is infested with reed canary grass
that blocks salmon migration and spawning. Imported to the area
as cattle feed decades ago, reed canary infestation is a common
obstacle for salmon in small streams.
Tucker bought the property four years ago, he began immediately
trying to remove the reed canary grass, but was never able to get
a handle on the problem. “I wanted to try to restore the wetlands
down there,” Tucker said.
is the property that I have; I might as well try to make it better.”
initial mowing, volunteers will plant a variety of native trees
and shrubs that will eventually prevent the grass from growing back.
Tribal employees and volunteers will periodically visit Tucker’s
property to check the plants and mow the area if needed.
salmon will especially benefit from increased access to habitat
in Tanwax Creek.
habitat is pretty limited in the Nisqually watershed,” said David
Troutt, natural resources director for the tribe. “Coho prefer these
kinds of small tributaries to the main river, like Tanwax Creek.”
similar project on nearby Muck Creek has kept a stretch of that
creek free of reed canary grass for several years.
seen a resurgence of salmon in Muck Creek, mostly because fish have
been able to access habitat that had been blocked by this grass,”
more habitat we can bring back and protect for salmon, the more
salmon we’re going to see coming back each year,” Troutt said.
glad when we can help a landowner make that happen.”
been excellent working with the tribe, they have a lot of capability
and flexibility to get things done,” Tucker said.
seems like when they see something they want to get done, they go