There were 35 or
40 of us involved in the project, and over a period of two months we planted
thousands of alder trees and Douglas firs along the banks of Cedar Creek and on
the adjacent slopes. We also built several gabions, which are small dams made
of stones enclosed in wire fencing. High winter water washes gravel in behind
the gabions, creating new spawning beds.
Last August I went
back to visit Cedar Creek. The trees we planted are now tall enough to shade
the water through the heat of summer days, and hundreds of yards of spawning
gravel have filled in behind the gabions. Most encouraging of all, there were
steelhead smolts in every pool in the creek, proof that adult fish have been
There was nothing
spectacular or even difficult about the work done by the Steamboaters at Cedar
Creek. Hundreds of hunting, fishing and conservation organizations across the
country undertake similar projects each year. But because their results
sometimes take a decade or more to unfold, such undertakings don't readily lend
themselves to media coverage.
wild creatures often requires great effort and expense, and the practice speaks
well for human impulses. But the heartwarming outcomes of such attempts often
obscure the unarguable fact that habitat restoration is the more important
undertaking, the enormous job that really matters to wildlife and to those of
us who love it.