A volunteer firefighter with the Bald Hills Fire District must repair damage done to important salmon habitat near the Nisqually River after logging without a permit and cutting trees in protected buffer zones.
The work was done where Lackamas Creek empties into the Nisqually River.
"I've seen so many salmon in this creek, you could walk across them. Steelhead, chum, kings. All of them come up this creek at one time or another," said neighbor Brad Whiting.
Whiting has lived by Lackamas Creek for 51 of his 52 years. His father and daughters live there, too.
The prime spawning habitat is the reason a culvert was taken out a decade ago and replaced by a bridge to reduce blockages and better allow for fish migration. Whiting says his neighbor has endangered all that work and with it salmon recovery around the Nisqually River.
The Department of Natural Resources cited George Burgman for logging a large area without a required permit as well as cutting six trees in protected buffer zones. DNR also says Burgman drove his equipment over the creek.
"It feels like they wasted money on the salmon to have somebody drive through the middle of the creek and cut timber on both sides of it. What's the sense of having a bridge if the salmon aren't going to come," Whiting said.
We contacted Burgman, but he wouldn't confirm or deny he's responsible. However, he did tell us what happened and what he has to do to mitigate the damage. He said he's almost done.
Burgman is required to protect other trees and restore salmon habitat in the river.
Whiting isn't satisfied.
"It's going to heat up the water or make it more stagnant. The erosion, when it floods, all those trees and roots that held it together, when it rains it's going to tear it out," he said.
Burgman is a volunteer firefighter, and Whiting says he should be a role model for children like his own.
"They watch the salmon come up the creek through the rocks and spawn and stuff, since they were little," he said. "Now, who knows how many will come back after all this?"