Porposal to restore salmon habitat Big Spring Creek and Enumclaw Plateau

Habitat would be restored 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 terms of a proposal issued by King County Executive Dow Constantine.

The executive's plan, released last week, calls for  King County to partner with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the project.

“Big Spring Creek now runs in a roadside ditch," Constantine said. "This project would create a new stream channel where salmon could thrive.” He noted that by partnering with the Army Corps the county can leverage federal funds for nearly two-thirds of the cost of the project.

The total cost of the restoration is pegged at $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 paying the rest.

Located just north of Enumclaw, Big Spring Creek is a 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 said to be a haven for coho salmon – 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. Such actions were common at the time, but 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 new stream channel and wetland and the creek banks would be replanted with native vegetation.

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

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