Dave Zimmerman stands next to a map of the Petersburg Ranger District that’s featured near the main entrance of the U.S. Forest Service office in downtown Petersburg. Photo/Angela Denning

The project to reconstruct a salmon passage on Mitchell Creek won’t be happening this summer after all. As Angela Denning reports, the U.S. Forest Service is postponing the project until next year.

Mitchell Creek is on the Lindenburg Peninsula of Kupreanof Island. The Forest Service built a salmon pass there about 25 years ago to help Coho navigate around some falls. The idea behind it was to open up more habitat where Coho could spawn. But recently, the forest service noticed that the passage was degrading. The creek project was supposed to be upgraded this summer but now it’s been rescheduled.

Dave Zimmerman, the District Ranger for the Petersburg Ranger District, says, “it will happen it will just be next summer.”

He says a lot of aspects caused the delay including deadlines that couldn’t be met.

“Continuing resolutions, acquisition deadlines, trying to hit the barge to get stuff up from Seattle,” Zimmerman said. “Things just didn’t line up at the last minute, virtually the last couple of minutes, it just didn’t work.”

About ten workers were scheduled to focus on the project this summer. Half a dozen of them ended up not being hired. Zimmerman says the others, including fish biologists on staff, are working on other projects.

“We have plenty of work to do,” Zimmerman said. “So, they’re out doing project work on the district.”

Reconstructing the Mitchell Creek passage has to be done in the summer months because workers need lower water levels. If they wait until the rainy fall it would be too late.

“The water level is critical in the construction of that,” said Zimmerman.

It’s a unique project for the local forest service district because it focuses on Coho, a species of salmon that is primarily harvested by sports fishermen.

The Forest Service is expecting to start the project at the beginning of next summer. It’s estimated to cost about $300,000.