Little River Streamwalk Report

July 17, 1999

  • Members: Bobbie Baldwin, Ben Peters, Bob Baldwin

Contacts Made Beforehand

  • Tom Shindler, a landowner just outside Olympic National Park, gave permission for walking access to the highest site.
  • Ed Chadd, a resident near a site, gave permission for walking access. We also spoke with landowner Mary Friberg-Daly on stream walk day and received additional directions to the site.
  • Reid and Johnson, landowners at the mouth of Little River, gave permission for parking and access.
  • No contact was made with George Rains to request entry permission.

How Sites Were Chosen

We had no aspiration to walk the length of the river. Sites (six) were chosen for easy access and to show the range of topography on the River banks. We started 3.5 miles upstream and worked downstream toward the Elwha. The upper two sites were on the main branch and above the confluence of the Little River with its South Branch. The last site was at our stream's confluence with the Elwha River.

General Description of the Watershed

Most of the upper reaches of the South Fork of Little River are in ONP, primarily in old growth. The South Fork provided water for the city of Port Angeles many years ago, and remnants of the water system are easily seen along the trail. Due to time limitations, we did not have any stream walk sites in virgin forests on the South Fork.

The River runs through second-growth forests west of Lake Dawn on primarily state and private lands and a small amount on USFS land. Above our uppermost site, and on the south side of the River, west of Lake Dawn, are large, replanted clear-cuts. Private lands in the area of the confluence, and upstream between branches - especially on the north slopes - have been logged and replanted in the present decade.

Horses feed and pass the time on fenced pasture land 100 to 300 yards north of the uppermost site.

There is a small rock quarry and an earth quarry on the north side, along Little River Road. Neither site is active. One is heavily used for target practice, and one is used by Clallam County Road Department as a stump dump.

Private land is a cut-over running one-quarter mile along the River, starting five-eights mile up from the estuary. This site (about 120 acres) was clear-logged about ten years ago and appears not to have been replanted. Heaps of logging debris lie on the north side of the River at the edge of the stream buffer, and sloughing of the bluff to the River shore on the south side is evident.

A small recreation site is located about three-quarters of a mile up from the confluence with the Elwha River - our Site 5. This undesignated area is used for camping, fishing, target practice, partying, etc. There is glass and other garbage in the fire circle, and the surrounding area could also use a litter patrol.

We did not see fish or mammals at any location. There was a variety of bird life along the River, and the longer we spent at any one site, the more birds we noted. The broad midvalley, but sometimes also the estuary area, seems a nearly unique site in the region for assured contact with the Common Nighthawk in summer.

Brief Description of Each Site

Site 1: (Uppermost) Located on the first bridge on Little River Trail to Hurricane Ridge, along the newer approach route. A well-established, maturing second-growth forest with basically natural vegetation understory. The only man-altered features appearing are trail approaches, wood foot bridge, and a new home visible northwesterly on the bluff. There was a dense distribution of herb Robert near the trailhead. A 30-foot diameter patch was also established at the north bridge approach. We pulled the flowering individuals. Nearby landowner Tom Shindler has since pulled all the plants at the parking area and will destroy those near the bridge. Site one is on land owned by DNR.

Site 2: Located about 100 yards (off-site guess) upstream from the confluence with Main Branch, (will measure) feet southeast of Little River Road on abandoned/gated logging road. Basically an alder buffer zone with natural-appearing riparian understory features. There are abandoned unimproved logging-road approaches to a rudimentary truck bridge. Surrounding area was recently logged. Land owned by George Rains.

Site 3: On Main Branch, a guessed 600 feet above the confluence with South Branch, _____ feet upstream from the wooden bridge, on the access road, ______ feet SE of Little River Road (road noted in Site 2 above.) [All figures here are off-site guesses. We will try to confirm.] Natural-appearing, second-growth, mixed, uneven-aged coniferous forest with minimal riparian features. Forests on rather steep slopes bordering the stream appear natural and healthy. Land owned by George Rains.

Site 4: Maturing, mixed second-growth forest containing scattered, large deciduous trees. There is a broad bench on the north side, about 25 feet above the River channel. A flourishing understory of herbaceous and shrubby vegetation. Unimproved, abandoned roadway, cut into the north bluff, terminating in an overgrown clearing at streamside, where a log footbridge crosses to south bank. Abundant large woody debris. The site is on the land of Little River Corporation, approached through the property of Mary Daly-Friberg.

Site 5: Located at the point of closest proximity between Little River road and Little River. Except for the spot used by recreationists, the area appears rather pristine. Forest is of well-established, mixed conifer and deciduous species with a vigorous, deciduous-brush understory forming an intact riparian zone on the south bank and between Little River and Little River Road. Owned by DNR.

Site 6: Located at the confluence of Little, and Elwha Rivers. Characterized by broad, flat, gravely, and sandy estuarian features. Overstory principally of scattered, very large black cottonwoods with smaller alders present. Herbaceous and deciduous shrubby growth, and grasses. Scattered coniferous reproduction. Well-established patches of reed canary grass, one Japanese knotweed patch, as well as other noxious weeds. Artificially constructed log and woody-debris revetments were placed to constrain the main channel at its north bank; held in place by steel cables. Site accessible by an unimproved roadway, largely overgrown near Little River bank. Gravel bars are being used by homeowners for vegetable plantings. House is within view on the north bank (? about 20) feet above water level.