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The Stillaguamish Big Trees Project approaches conifer reforestation at the watershed scale. Conifers provide year round cover which significantly attenuates river temperature fluctuations.
In the near term, intensive site preparation suppresses invasive plants; this allows for native vegetation regeneration and facilitates the establishment of ‘big tree' conifer supplementation plantings.
The longer term goal of a canopy dominated by conifers in both forks of the Stilly within 100 feet of the river addresses water temperatures exceeding acceptable TMDLs (total maximum daily limits) for salmonids.
The long-lived conifer trees will develop relatively shallow but vastly expansive root systems which help stabilize river banks and reduce erosion.
A restored conifer forest along the Stillaguamish River will continue to provide benefits beyond the lifespan of the trees. Mature conifer trees that fall and are 'recruited' into streams can create decay resistant in-stream habitat features that can last for 100s if not 1,000s of years.