Ryan Makie Keeps Fish Swimming Freely
Fish play an important role ecologically, culturally, and economically in the northwest, so restoring stream habitat to offset the effects of urbanization is crucial work. Otak’s Vancouver office is fortunate to have the skills of Ryan Makie, leader for the Water and Natural Resources Group, to oversee its growing portfolio of fish passage and habitat improvement projects.
While Ryan started school in a typical civil engineering capacity, two internships sparked his interest in water and natural resources, work which he found energized him. Fast forward many years later and that passion has only grown. “I’m restoring fish passages at road crossings so fish can get through to access upstream habitat. Providing access is one part of restoring our fish populations. In addition to the ecological and economic importance, fish are a first food for the tribal nations in the Pacific Northwest. I get immense job satisfaction knowing I’ve played a role in restoring that resource,” he said.
Two recent projects have put Ryan in the driver’s seat to replace culverts, restore fish passage, and improve stream health.
The Manley Road project in a rural area outside of Battle Ground, Washington, involved the replacement of 4 culverts and the restoration of a substantial reach of the creek to allow a freer flow of Manley Creek, uninhibited fish passage, and improved habitat conditions. The existing culverts were small, perched, and frequently clogged with debris. Additionally, the creek was too close to the roadway in some locations resulting in an oversteepened roadway embankment. Otak was hired to oversee the stream, structural and environmental components of the project, with Ryan serving as discipline lead for the stream work. The Otak team worked closely with the County who took on the stormwater and roadway portions of the project.
Ryan was the principal in charge for the Emergency Culvert Repair on the Pacific Coast Highway located near La Center, Oregon. During a heavy rainstorm, the highway washed out due to an undersized culvert that became clogged with debris. The County quickly closed the road and declared an emergency, which Ryan explained allowed them to move forward with a quick replacement. In this case, the County requested that a fish passable culvert be designed and constructed right away instead of adding a temporary non-passable culvert as is often the approach for emergency replacements. The permitting for a project of this type would normally require a lengthy road closure, however, the emergency declaration allowed for addressing the permitting after the fact which relies heavily on close coordination between the designer and permitting agencies. Ryan’s team was the preferred choice of the County due to their rapport with the local permitting agencies that stemmed from years of successful stream-related projects. “We coordinated with agencies in the field, assessed the geomorphic conditions, agreed upon the culvert type, put together a plan, and had a culvert back in place within 45 days. That’s impressive since typical culvert replacements take closer to a year to complete,” Ryan said.