Student Volunteers Help Coho Salmon Access Habitat


A fish pass near Petersburg has been rebuilt to continue to allow Coho salmon to reach spawning grounds. After a few years of delays, the U.S. Forest Service is finishing the Mitchell Creek project this summer.

The work was done by student volunteers, who celebrated the opening with a dedication to a long-time Forest Service employee who had worked on the original pass.

Rachael Stocker led her parents across a wooden boardwalk next to this fish pass on Kupreanof Island. “First they swim up here, then they swim up here,” she explained, walking along what looked like a wide staircase with pools of water instead of steps.

She built the pass along with five other Student Conservation Association volunteers. Stocker and almost everyone else on the crew had leftover tears in their eyes after an emotional day remembering the late John Pickens and talking about a summer experience that was about to come to an end.

“The crew was awesome,” she said. “We’re best friends. And Rob is an awesome boss so. It meaning a lot to him means a lot to us, I think.”

Stocker never knew Pickens, but her crew leader Rob Miller worked with him on fish passes for years.

“He taught me everything I know about construction,” Miller said. “Him and the guy before him. I never had no college classes in construction, they taught me everything. So I’m just carrying it on. Hopefully I can pass it on to someone else that’ll take over when I retire.”

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Student Conservation Association