During the fall thousands of Chinook salmon make the long trek through the Ballard Locks to Lake Washington and upstream to the Sammamish River looking to spawn.
Most return to the Issaquah Creek Hatchery, but many migrate further into Bear Creek that runs through Northeast Redmond as they make their way to Snohomish County.
For decades, these Chinook had sought to take refuge behind fallen logs and stumps in the stream, but until recently weren’t able to do so as their wood habitats had been removed.
But thanks to the instream restation project taking place behind the Friendly Village Mobile Home Park near Avondale Road, that environment is being restored with the placement of hundreds of logs anchored by huge boulders into the creek.
“This project will increase juvenile Chinook rearing habitat through the installation of logjams that will scour pools and create cover habitat,” said Walt Rung, senior biologist with Adopt A Stream Foundation.”
The project, which also improves adult spawning entails the removal of an existing footbridge that confines the stream channel and reducing the slope of over-steepened streambanks.
“The footing of this bridge creates lateral confinement of the channel, which increases flow velocities and erosion downstream. It also restricts natural channel migration, a primary mechanism for spawning gravel and large woody debris (LWD) recruitment, both of which are critical to maintaining channel complexity for salmon habitat," Rung said. "We are re-grading 330 feet of the left and right banks, which have a near-vertical slope to improve the interaction between the floodplain and Bear Creek."
Rung added reducing the slope of the banks also meets several project objectives by increasing residence time of waters on the floodplain, reducing fine sediment inputs created by unstable bank slopes, and creating a more stable planting area for riparian restoration.
“Widening the flood plan and creating side pools will also serve as habitat for juvenile salmon when they begin their journey back downstream to Puget Sound in late spring and early summer next year,” said Tom Murdoch, president of Adopt A Steam.
The instream project got underway on Aug.8 and is scheduled to be complete on Sept. 15. It is funded by a $317,299 Washington State Recreation and Conservation grant and a $56,000 contribution from the Adopt A Stream Foundation.
“I’m sure we will be able to meet the September 15 deadline,” Rung said. “We brought on another excavator, our crew which was pretty much brand new have all been trained up now, and the interns we were using have been great. They’re such a valuable resource. They’ve come out, they’re ready to go, they want to learn, and are really excited to be involved.”
Later this fall Adopt A Stream Foundation will plant native trees and shrubs along the creek.
“With the help of local volunteers, we will convert one acre of lawn into a functioning native riparian forest,” Rung said. “As the riparian canopy matures, it will reduce thermal inputs to the stream by shading the creek, retain fine sediments through soil cover and root complexity, filter runoff before it enters the stream, and act as a source of long-term LWD.”