Presentation Title

Engaging Wildlife in Elwha Habitat Restoration

Session Title

Session S-06F: Elwah River Restoration: Evolution of Habitats and Ecosystems During a Dam Removal Project

Conference Track

Restoration

Conference Name

Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference (2014 : Seattle, Wash.)

Contributing Repository

Digital content made available by University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Presenter/Author Information

John McLaughlinFollow

Start Date

1-5-2014 5:00 PM

End Date

1-5-2014 6:30 PM

Abstract

The Elwha project is one of the nation’s most comprehensive ecosystem restoration programs, designed to fulfill or approach each of SERI’s “attributes of restored ecosystems.” Most attention is in restoring historic salmon runs, redistributing and stabilizing sediments, and restoring forest on the exposed reservoir beds. We suggest wildlife are important to Elwha restoration: restoring wildlife is a project goal, wildlife will influence other restoration processes, and adapting restoration efforts to wildlife activity would enhance restoration outcomes. Wildlife are expected both to use restored Elwha habitats and shape habitat development. Diverse species will colonize forest restored to the reservoirs, and many will exploit nutrients and energy delivered by returning salmon. Growth and survival of trees and shrubs will be impacted by mammalian browsers, including ungulates, beavers, and smaller rodents. Ungulate browsing strongly shapes riparian forest structure and composition in the upper Elwha, and it is impacting revegetation in the reservoirs. Frugivorous birds play essential roles in forest restoration around the world, and potentially could disperse native seeds throughout the reservoir beds. Restoration success can be increased with action to limit negative wildlife impacts and increase or expand positive influences. One of the most promising actions is redistributing large woody debris (LWD) from accumulation sites along reservoir shorelines to open sediment deposits. Where appropriately placed, LWD provides perch sites to attract avian seed dispersers and protects trees and shrubs from ungulate browsers. LWD also provides structures for wildlife that consume salmon, facilitating dispersal of marine derived nutrients to young forest. By investing resources to direct wildlife activity in support of revegetation, this approach engages wildlife in efforts to restore their ecosystem. It offers a model for environmental stewardship with broad relevance.

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Language

English

Format

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Type

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May 1st, 5:00 PM May 1st, 6:30 PM

Engaging Wildlife in Elwha Habitat Restoration

Room 6C

The Elwha project is one of the nation’s most comprehensive ecosystem restoration programs, designed to fulfill or approach each of SERI’s “attributes of restored ecosystems.” Most attention is in restoring historic salmon runs, redistributing and stabilizing sediments, and restoring forest on the exposed reservoir beds. We suggest wildlife are important to Elwha restoration: restoring wildlife is a project goal, wildlife will influence other restoration processes, and adapting restoration efforts to wildlife activity would enhance restoration outcomes. Wildlife are expected both to use restored Elwha habitats and shape habitat development. Diverse species will colonize forest restored to the reservoirs, and many will exploit nutrients and energy delivered by returning salmon. Growth and survival of trees and shrubs will be impacted by mammalian browsers, including ungulates, beavers, and smaller rodents. Ungulate browsing strongly shapes riparian forest structure and composition in the upper Elwha, and it is impacting revegetation in the reservoirs. Frugivorous birds play essential roles in forest restoration around the world, and potentially could disperse native seeds throughout the reservoir beds. Restoration success can be increased with action to limit negative wildlife impacts and increase or expand positive influences. One of the most promising actions is redistributing large woody debris (LWD) from accumulation sites along reservoir shorelines to open sediment deposits. Where appropriately placed, LWD provides perch sites to attract avian seed dispersers and protects trees and shrubs from ungulate browsers. LWD also provides structures for wildlife that consume salmon, facilitating dispersal of marine derived nutrients to young forest. By investing resources to direct wildlife activity in support of revegetation, this approach engages wildlife in efforts to restore their ecosystem. It offers a model for environmental stewardship with broad relevance.