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King County executive calls restoration salmon habitat on Enumclaw Plateau

King County would partner with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to restore habitat for endangered salmon and other fish and wildlife along one mile of Big Spring Creek and 20 acres of wetlands on the Enumclaw Plateau, under a proposal from King County Executive Dow Constantine.

“Big Spring Creek now runs in a roadside ditch. This project would create a new stream channel where salmon could thrive,” said Executive Constantine. “By partnering with the Army Corps we can leverage federal funds for nearly two-thirds of the cost for this important project.”

The total cost of the restoration is $4.1 million. Under the proposal sent recently to the Metropolitan King County Council, the County would provide more than $1.4 million in funding and in-kind services, with the federal government adding the remaining $2.6 million.

Located just north of Enumclaw, Big Spring Creek is a major tributary to Newaukum Creek, which flows into the Green River near Flaming Geyser State Park. It’s a key cold-water source for Newaukum Creek, which is home to federally-protected chinook salmon.

Big Spring Creek also is a haven for coho salmon – a species that, while abundant in this particular creek, is a candidate for listing across Puget Sound under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Early in the 20th century, Big Spring Creek was channelized into a roadside ditch to increase the amount of arable farmland on the Enumclaw Plateau – a action that was common at the time, but severely degraded the quality of the stream’s fish and wildlife habitat.

If the project partnership is approved, the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks would begin restoring the creek by building a new three-quarter-mile-long stream channel and routing the stream from its roadside ditch into the new channel.

Logs and tree root wads would be placed in the newly-created stream channel and wetland, and the creek banks would be replanted with native vegetation.

Under the proposal, King County would monitor and maintain the area for at least five years after construction.

 

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