Fish and Wildlife warns against building dams on local rivers

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is warning people not to move rocks along rivers to create swimming holes. The dams restrict the water flow and put fish and other wildlife at risk.

It is also a crime. Sgt. Kim Chandler with Fish and Wildlife explained that it is a gross misdemeanor that could come with a $5,000 fine and up to a year in jail. He says it is a hydraulic violation, and any work on the river requires a hydraulic project approval from the state. While they’re not planning to write tickets right away, they are warning people to stop and asking for the public’s help.

KIRO 7′s Alison Grande met with Fish and Wildlife along the Raging River near Fall City. At 5 p.m. she looks at the risk to fish and why it could cost you a $5,000 fine.

On Friday along the Raging River near Fall City, Sgt. Chandler, and a Fish and Wildlife intern, spent hours taking down the human-made dams.

“I just did this on Tuesday. Took this one apart, took that one apart, that one’s fine, that one’s building up again. This is driving me crazy,” said Sgt. Chandler, who’s been with Fish and Wildlife for 46 years. “I’m sure nobody ever thinks about fish when they’re just trying to be cool in the summertime.”

He says salmon, steelhead and trout need flowing water that stays cool and oxygenated. Dams destroy their habitat and leave them trapped.

“It’s frustrating to us to have to come in here and do this. Can you post signs? Yeah, you could, they last two or three days and they get torn down,” he said.

Sgt. Chandler and an intern spent hours moving rocks so they would no longer restrict the flow of the river.

“I’m an enforcement officer,” said Sgt. Chandler, “I have a lot better things to be doing than on my hands and knees here tearing out these dams. But it’s important, it’s important to me, It’s important to us, it should be important to them.”

He said as soon as they split open the dams, someone comes back and rebuilds them.

“Trust me, I’ll be here this weekend watching this spot, telling folks I spent several hours taking these apart and we’re done here,” said Sgt. Chandler.