Water and Salmon
The last ten miles of the Dungeness River flow through the Sequim-Dungeness Valley, where a rain shadow cast by the Olympic Mountains allows only 16 inches of rain to fall annually. Early European settlers realized that while they had some of the finest alluvial soils in the nation to farm, water was going to be a real problem.
In 1896, the settlers constructed an irrigation outfall where the river leaves the mountains and they began a series of ditches, some of which are about 22 miles long. At one point in the early 20th century, there were 20 separate ditch companies, and no regulation of water usage. In 1987, a severe drought reduced the river to a trickle and salmon had to be captured and trucked upstream. Subsequent measurements revealed that 82% of the river was being diverted for irrigation and it became evident that the good old days of unregulated irrigation were over. Some hard negotiating followed. Irrigators, Washington State, local tribes and environmentalists finally agreed on a minimum flow-60 cubic feet per second (CFS) in the driest times of the year. In 2001, another drought reduced the river to levels that were similar to those in 1987. This time however, irrigators withdrew just 33 percent of the Dungeness's flow, increasing the survival rate of the eight stocks of Pacific salmon that spawn in the Dungeness, two of which are still endangered today. See Department of Ecology, State of Washington for more information.
Nash's Organic Produce is one of a few farms in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley to be certified "Salmon-Safe." Founded in 1995 by Pacific Rivers Council, Salmon-Safe is a nonprofit that works with farmers, vineyards, ranchers, municipalities, campuses, golf courses, contractors and residential developments to protect water quality and salmon habitat. As one of the nation's leading regional eco-labels with more than 60,000 acres of farm and urban lands certified in Oregon, Washington, and California, Salmon-Safe offers a series of peer-reviewed certification programs linking land management practices with the protection of agricultural and urban watersheds.
Nash's is proud that our water conservation efforts contribute to protection of the Dungeness River and its precious inhabitants (some of which are endangered) and we work hard to promote efficient and effective water use on our farm.