Annual WRIA 8 Salmon Recovery Tour

October 10, 2014

The 2014 WRIA 8 Salmon Tour included stops at the Hiram M. Chittenden (a.k.a Ballard) Locks, Lower Mapes Creek daylighting project, Issaquah Hatchery Dam removal project, and Lower Bear Creek restoration project.

Ballard Locks

The tour started at the Locks, where Army Corps of Engineers staff described the urgently needed fish passage and general infrastructure improvements at the Locks. Tour participants were taken into the pump plant, which has been closed due to pipe failures, to see firsthand the failing condition plaguing much of the machinery in Locks facilities. The Locks are a critical facility supporting the regional economy, public infrastructure, and environmental priorities like passing threatened Chinook salmon. They are also a major regional tourist attraction. As if to emphasize the key role the Locks play in our watershed, one of the huge floating pontoons for the new SR 520 floating bridge was locked through (with what looked like about 8” of clearance on either side!) while we were there. Participants also received a presentation by a volunteer Cedar River Salmon Journey naturalist, who shared her experience interacting with the public at the Locks and sites along the Cedar River to share information and raise public awareness about salmon in local streams and needed habitat conditions.

Tour Intro
Touring the Pump House
Level 2 in the Pump House
Pontoon in the Locks
Welcome and introductions at the Ballard Locks
Peggy Marcus leading a tour of the Locks pump house
Down a level in the pump house
SRO 520 bridge pontoon inching its way through the Locks

Lower Mapes Creek daylighting

Seattle Public Utilities staff presented the nearly complete Lower Mapes Creek restoration project which re-establishes 440 feet of natural stream channel through Beer Sheva Park in South Seattle’s Rainier Beach neighborhood. The completed project will reconnect the creek to Lake Washington and provide rearing habitat for juvenile chinook as they migrate out of the Cedar River and into to Puget Sound.

Lower Mapes Creek
Mapes Creek reconnection to Lake WA
Mapes Creek reconnection to Lake WA
Julie Crittenden and Seattle Parks and SPU staff at Lower Mapes Creek in Beer Sheva Park
Mapes Creek reconnection to Lake Washington
Looking up Mapes Creek from the lake

Issaquah Hatchery Dam removal

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and City of Issaquah staff showed tour participants where the Issaquah Hatchery Dam had been removed a year ago and replaced by a series of boulder weirs providing salmon unrestricted access to 11 miles of high quality spawning habitat in upper Issaquah Creek for the first time in decades.

Sun and Issaquah Creek
Issaquah Creek weirs
Tim Ward, WDFW, Kerry Ritland, Issaquah, and the sun at the Issaquah Hatchery Dam removal site
New weirs in action on Issaquah Creek

Lower Bear Creek Restoration

City of Redmond staff presented the recently completed downstream phase of the Lower Bear Creek restoration project which relocated 3,500 feet of the creek away from State Route 520, added meanders and large wood to what had been a straightened channel. The site was being replanted with native vegetation to establish riparian habitat. Salmon have reportedly been seen in above-normal numbers above the project site, indicating they are moving through and using the newly restored site.

Lower Bear Creek Project Site
Logs stabilizing the banks
Streamside plantings on Lower Bear
Roger Dane, Redmond, at Lower Bear Creek project site
Buried large logs at work stabilizing the banks
Streamside plantings on the opposite bank of Lower Bear

Tour Handouts and Links:

  • Itinerary
  • List of Attendees and Speakers
  • Science Fact Sheet: Habitat Protection and Restoration in WRIA 8
  • Information Fact Sheet: Improvements to Hiram M. Chittenden (Ballard) Locks are Critically Needed
  • Project Fact Sheet: Lower Mapes Creek Restoration, City of Seattle
  • Project Fact Sheet: Issaquah Creek Integrated Fish Passage, WA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife/City of Issaquah
  • Project Fact Sheet: Lower Bear Creek Rehabilitation, City of Redmond
  • Chinook Salmon Conservation Plan Summary (updated October 2014)
  • WRIA 8 2015 Legislative Priorities
  • Salmon SEEson Flyer
  • WRIA 8 Five-Year Implementation Progress Report