Ecological impact of land slide under investigation - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Ecological impact of land slide under investigation

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  • Governor Gregoire declares emergency for Naches slide

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    NACHES, Wash. - Governor Chris Gregoire has declared an emergency in Yakima County because of the landslide that blocked a quarter mile of Highway 410 and forced the Naches River to flood about 25 homes.>>
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NILE VALLEY, Wash. - The landslide on State Route 410 has caused a lot of trouble for people and now scientists are busy studying the effects the landslide had on fish and the local ecosystem.

Geologists and biologists have been analyzing the slide and it's possible effects all week.

The landslide hasn't just destroyed homes and roads, it has threatened life in and around the Naches River.

Pictures taken Sunday after the slide show fish stranded on the now-dry riverbed, however if this slide was unavoidable, biologists say it hit at the best time of the year.

"The spring Chinook have already migrated through this area and most of them have already spawned, laid their eggs and have already died well above this site," said Perry Harvester with the State Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The new channel should be completed by the time other fish migrate through the Nile Valley.

The rock slide may even make the Naches a more fertile breeding ground for fish, but the situation in place could easily change.

"We don't know where that river is going, we don't know what's going to happen next," said Joye Redfield-Wilder with the Department of Ecology. "There's the potential that there could be more flooding, there's the potential there could be another slide."

That's why the Department of Ecology is urging people in the floodplain to check their homes for chemicals like paint, oil or pesticides and move them to a safe place or get rid of them.

The slide and flooding aren't expected to have a negative long-term impact on the environment, but if hazardous chemicals are added to the mix, it could be a totally different story.

While construction crews made a channel to divert the river enough to get a temporary road built, in the long term the Naches will decide where it runs and people will just have to adapt.

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