Northwest NEWS

April 16, 2001

Features

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Sammamish River habitat restoration

Praises were voiced by the many officials at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the 90th Street Bridge opening in Redmond. The project involved crossing the Sammamish River with a much-needed bridge and a major habitat restoration stretching under and along, both sides of the bridge.
   Councilmember Tom Payne remarked that this project was the result of systemic planning in which many elements were considered.
   The bridge is aesthetically beautiful while accommodating all forms of traffic, and what is under and around the bridge was considered as well.
   Redmond Mayor Rosemary Ives suggested that the project may receive national recognition for its design elements. Rep. Jay Inslee said he would take this project back to the U.S. Congress as an example of a successfully integrated restoration of habitat, along with an improved transportation corridor. He said that he would like all transportation projects to include the improvement of surrounding environment the way this one did.
   The Sammamish River is a major migratory passageway for salmon, as well as habitat for herons, waterfowl and other wildlife.
   In the 1960s a flood control project destroyed most of the natural meander of the river and silted in the streambed.
   Biologists have noted a serious decline in temperature and waterlevels along the river, which impacts returning Chinook and other salmon, which are migrating to spawning grounds.
   Two years ago, a number of Chinook died from the excessive heat of the shallow water.
   Councilmember Louise Miller has been working to restore failing habitat in the Sammamish River Basin and praised the River Walk Habitat Restoration project. She remarked that she would like to see more of this kind of project along the river, as this is what is needed to protect our salmon, so that we can not only enjoy seeing them return, because they are a Northwest icon, but they have also been part of the Northwest sustenance. In appearance, there is a stark contrast along the river where the restoration project starts.
   From a narrow straight line of grassy edged water, suddenly there is a gravelly meander, with boulders and tree stumps, and dense plantings of native trees.
   It is like being transported to the Skykomish River. There are ripples and resting pools, and a cool area under the bridge for salmon to rest.
   The bridge itself is a graceful structure of beauty and has embossed salmon carved along its understructure. There are several attractive naturalist artworks, which are part of the project.
   King County Executive Ron Sims remarked that this is the kind of project he would like to see more of, because it included so many important elements that King County is working on.
   The Sammamish River basin also includes the communities of Issaquah, Sammamish, Woodinville, Bothell and Kenmore as well as unincorporated areas of Bear Creek, Swamp and Little Bear Creek. Redmond has been a good model of learning from success.
   They have shown what works to restore habitat. With so many officials giving praise and support for this project, it is hopeful that communities along the river will receive funding to continue much needed restoration of this precious waterway which connects us all.