MOUNT ST. HELENS -- The Toutle River has been choked with sediment since the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, not allowing fish and wildlife to flourish since.

EXTRA:Mount St. Helens Eruption 30th Anniversary

A massive engineering project is underway just a few miles from the site of the blast to control that sediment.

More than a thousand pilings are being driven into the barren floodplain of the North Fork of the Toutle to create structures that will slow the current and keep more silt from flowing downstream. Trees and rootballs are being placed to create as series of islands for the same reason.

We see this as a step toward creating a more stable condition 9out there for vegetation to become established and over the long term, build some really good fish and wildlife habitat, said Brian Calkins with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Part of the $3.5 million project, funded with stimulus dollars, is to correct the effects of a sediment dam built after the eruption.

Miles of ash backed up, killing plants and fish. Salmon and steelhead runs that used to run in the thousands now runs in the hundreds.

Over time, I think all these concepts maybe fit together and we end up with a much better situation, said Tim Kuhn of the Army Corps of Engineers.

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