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Fennel Creek stability vital to Bonney Lake

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By Judy Halone-The Courier-Herald

While Bonney Lake city officials await approval of a Pierce County Conservation Futures Grant of $350,000 for its Fennel Creek Trail Plan, the future of the creek itself - and its stability - continues to raise a current of interest within the community.

During an Oct. 25 presentation to the Fennel Creek Preservation Group, Russ Ladley, the Puyallup Tribe's resource protection manager, told the dozen attendees that protecting Fennel Creek is vital to the community's ecological health.

“I believe there is a prudent way to develop and still manage the creek,” he said.

Spanning eight miles, Fennel Creek begins just east of Entwhistle Road East in Buckley and flows north to Sumner-Buckley Highway. Near Church Lake Road East, the creek is joined by two tributaries - Debra Jane Lake and Bonney Lake, eventually flowing downstream along Angeline Road and Rhodes Lake Road. From there, the water drops 120 feet over Victor Falls and continues for approximately two miles to the Puyallup River, home to several species of salmon.

Ladley said the presence of salmon is a strong indicator of the area's environmental health. “There are five species of salmon which spawn in Fennel Creek - chinook, coho, steelhead, chums and pinks,” Ladley told the group. “The pinks have a two-year life cycle; they are very prolific. They import marine-derived nutrients in their flesh and then import them into the stream.”

Ladley said cohos - also known as silvers - weigh five to seven pounds in Fennel Creek. “Cohos depend upon water quality,” he said. “There are a lot of people who measure their lives in proximity to a good salmon habitat.”

Protecting Fennel Creek and Victor Falls from environmental hazards has become a top priority for Marian Betzer, facilitator for the Fennel Creek Preservation Group.

“A lot of our homeowners have moved into developments (near the creek) and through no fault of their own, those neighborhoods will eventually affect the creek,” she said.

Betzer said residents need to be aware that anything put into their drains - such as pesticides or runoff from streets and roofs - directly affects water quality.

“It ultimately ends up in our watersheds and aquifer recharge areas,” she said, adding that Fennel Creek “is something citizens don't seem to realize they're losing.”

“Preserving the best buffer possible will help protect (Fennel) creek,” Ladley said.

Betzer agreed.

“It is the largest tributary of the Puyallup River,” she said. “It's truly incredible.”

Judy Halone can be reached at jhalone@courierherald.com.

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