Fish and fairways.
The two go hand-in-fin at Enumclaw Golf Course, where picturesque Boise Creek provides a natural hazard to golfers as it winds its way from high country to the White River.
But neither the golf course nor the creek are particularly well served these days. The waterway is prone to seasonal flooding, thus making a portion of the 18-hole course sometimes unplayable, and spawning salmon aren’t getting their best shot at success.
But there’s new resolve to remedy the situation, building upon work initiated more than a decade ago.
Members of the Enumclaw City Council were briefed Aug. 10 on plans to mitigate the ongoing troubles that plague the city-owned course. And, in the end, they voted unanimously to accept grant money and pursue a plan of action.
The troubles at the golf course, sitting on the city’s eastern edge, are well documented. Boise Creek might be pretty, and it might be one of the most productive salmon-producing streams in the region, but nature has made it a difficult partner. According to a memo provided to council, “Due to the soil and geology of the course, and the fast running spring-fed water, the course has become choked with accumulated gravel.”
That results in flooding during times of high water volume, a situation that played out most recently in February of this year. The creek filled and then spilled over its banks, leaving gravel debris and causing one fairway to remain flooded for more than a month.
Such situations have become more common during the past 20 years, causing damage to the golf course while degrading salmon habitat.
This year, city staff took action, looking for ways to prevent future flooding. A crucial contact was made with the Puyallup Tribe, which jumped on board and provided some history regarding Boise Creek efforts.
During a two-year span (2008-10) the tribe began studying ways to modify the meandering route taken by Boise Creek, restoring it to a historic channel found on the eastern fringe of the golf course property. Design work reached 30 percent completion before being halted in favor of other priorities.
Enumclaw and the tribe joined forces and in March the city applied for a Cooperative Watershed Management Grant through the county. The effort was apparently well received, as a citizen committee ranked the Enumclaw project as No. 1 on its funding list and is poised to allocate the entire sum of $210,000 that had been requested. Even better, the grant does not require any matching money by the city.
It is anticipated the dollars will be released this month.
The city’s Public Works Department figures the $210,000 will pay for the remaining design work and carry the project through the permitting process. All that would remain is the construction phase, but that’s an expensive proposal.
Jeff Lincoln, who heads Public Works, told the council it would likely take $2 million to complete construction. Plans would call for building a new channel for Boise Creek, one that would not be susceptible to flooding, thus improving the golf experience, while also uncovering a small waterway (Chappel creek) that now runs underground through the course.
The plan is to divert Boise Creek and have it skirt most of the golf course, hugging a hillside. That would keep the creek in the shade and keep the water cooler, thus optimizing conditions for salmon.
As part of the planning process, Lincoln said, the city would look to contract with a planner with a background in such issues. That type of professional guidance, he said, would “allow the golf course to remain competitively playable” while Boise Creek was rerouted.
To finish the project, Lincoln said, the city would seek grant money from the Salmon Recovery Fund. Funds from that source would require a 15 percent match by the city, he said, noting that Enumclaw’s project would likely place high in a competitive process.
Lincoln said tentative plans call for completion of design work and permitting by the close of 2021 with construction taking place in 2022.