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Enumclaw City Council supports Boise Creek project on golf course

A project initiated by the Puyallup Indian Tribe would make life more enjoyable for Enumclaw golfers, improve spawning grounds for migrating salmon and cost roughly $1 million to complete.

Members of the Enumclaw City Council voted their support for the proposal during their most recent meeting, perhaps an easy step to take since the city would be on the hook for none of the money.

A project has been in the talking stage for several years involving the tribe, the city and the Salmon Recovery Funding Board – each with a vested interest in the outcome. The tribe wants to redirect Boise Creek where it enters the golf course to improve conditions for salmon heading upstream; the city sees the project as a way to eliminate seasonal flooding that irritates golfers and makes parts of the municipal course unplayable; and the SRFB is highly interested because it provides money only to the most deserving entities.

Boise Creek now enters the golf course between the greens on holes No. 1 and 10, but the tribe hopes to redirect the channel so it enters along the side of hole No. 11. The proposed location is "an old, former channel," according to Enumclaw Public Works Director Chris Searcy, who adds that the historic nature of the creek was likely altered by development of the region.

Work on the creek would extend approximately 2,000 feet and would involve widening the stream bed. The creek has been artificially narrowed in some areas, contained by berms. That creates an unnatural situation for salmon and contributes to poor fairway drainage, Searcy said. In some areas the creek occasionally sits higher than the adjacent fairway, held in check by man-made berms, he said.

On occasion, there has been so much water in Boise Creek it has spilled over the berms and onto the course. This situation has occurred numerous times on holes 10, 16, 17 and 18.

"Flooded fairways aren't good for golfers or fish," Searcy said.

In past decades, the ongoing trouble might have been solved by dredging the creek, Searcy noted, but today's environmental regulations would make that option tricky at best.

A second part of the tribe's plan is to open up a hidden waterway that now flows under the feet of golfers playing holes 1, 8, 10 and 18. A small stream trickles to a spot between holes No. 2 and No. 7, feeding a pond used as part of the irrigation system for the course's front nine. That small stream is channeled by an underground culvert. Plans call for it to be opened to the surface, creating another water feature for the public course.

If the Puyallup Tribe secures the needed funding, Searcy said, the majority of the work on the course could be done between February and May, when the course gets the least play. A minimal amount of work, he added, would have to be done during the busy months of July and August.

Given the city's financial condition, the tribe's salmon enhancement plan offers the best option for getting the golf course's drainage issues resolved, Searcy said. During discussions with members of the Mens Club, Ladies Club and Enumclaw High golf program, poor drainage has been identified as the No. 1 problem plaguing the course.

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