South Fork Stillaguamish River

Conserving ancient forests on an imperiled Puget Sound river
A man and his dog fishing in South Fork Stillaguamish river
A man and his dog fishing in Washington's South Fork Stillaguamish River.
Photography | Stephen Matera

The Stillaguamish River is one of the few Puget Sound rivers with good natural fish production. The National Forest segment of the South Fork Stilly provides good spawning and rearing habitat for coho, chinook, chum and some pink salmon. However, logging and development have contributed to the decline of fish runs for the past several decades. In the Gold Basin area, landslides had also degraded the river's scenic beauty.

Between 1992 and 1994, Western Rivers Conservancy purchased four properties from Crown Pacific and Trillium along the upper part of the South Fork Stilly, within the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. The lands, totaling 360 acres, include stands of old-growth habitat for marbled murrelet, spotted owl and bald eagle. Because of steep slopes and unstable soils, logging of these lands could well have precipitated slides into the river. Throughout this acquisition project, Western Rivers Conservancy received strong support from the Stillaguamish Citizens Alliance, Snohomish County, the Congressional delegation from Washington and the Forest Service. The lands are now owned and managed by the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

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