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caption: Chris Morgan and Dr. Paul James snorkel in Gold Creek at Snoqualmie Pass to count fish.
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Chris Morgan and Dr. Paul James snorkel in Gold Creek at Snoqualmie Pass to count fish.
Credit: Matt Martin/KUOW

Make it like it was: Clean, cold and flowing Gold Creek of Snoqualmie Pass

We can’t always reset the clock on all the changes we’ve made to our natural ecosystems, but when we can, life is ready to thrive again.

“That's what I'm amazed by, that a little tiny stream, not even knee deep, is a whole world if you get under there with it,” exclaimed CWU professor Paul James as he snorkeled his way through Gold Creek at the summit of Snoqualmie Pass.

Dr. James is surveying the number of fish in the river after a recent restoration project. Gold Creek is an important tributary to the Yakima River and serves as a breeding ground for many fish that are important to the Yakama Nation.

Joe Blodgett learned how to fish from his father. He mastered the technique of dip netting a fish out of the Yakima River, the traditional kind of fishing for the Yakama Nation.

“It was a great way of coming up in life,” Joe said.

Today, Joe is a fisheries coordinator for the Yakama Nation. He is working to restore the remaining fish habitat of the Yakima River after a generation of loss in this freshwater ecosystem.

caption: Dr. Paul James (left) stands with Chris Morgan (right) after completing a snorkel survey in Gold Creek.
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Dr. Paul James (left) stands with Chris Morgan (right) after completing a snorkel survey in Gold Creek.
Credit: Matt Martin/KUOW

“We were directed by our leadership to make it like it was before we started destroying their habitat and before we started destroying the flows,” Joe added. “Make it like it was as a directive from our tribal council years ago.”

Easier said than done when you are facing a generation of infrastructure changes to the landscape and waterways. But this story is about just that, the mission to restore a watershed — starting with a single river — to truly "make it like it was."

THE WILD is a production of KUOW in Seattle in partnership with Chris Morgan Wildlife and Wildlife Media. It is produced by Matt Martin and edited by Jim Gates. It is hosted, produced and written by Chris Morgan. Fact checking by Apryle Craig. Our theme music is by Michael Parker.

Follow us on Instagram (@thewildpod) for more adventures and behind the scenes action!