Cherry Valley revival: Working together to advance fish habitat restoration, farming, and flood risk reduction

Using beautiful drone footage and captivating underwater salmon photography, the Snoqualmie Watershed Forum tells the story of diverse partners in the Cherry Valley working together to recover salmon, while protecting farmland and reducing flood risks.

Hear about the challenges and successes from representatives of the Tulalip Tribes, Snoqualmie Indian Tribe, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Sound Salmon Solutions, Snoqualmie Valley Watershed Improvement District, Wild Fish Conservancy, Snohomish Conservation District, and Drainage District 7.

The Snoqualmie Watershed Forum has been working since 1998 with partners to address salmon recovery, water quality, and flooding. Nowhere is this more evident than in Cherry Valley, where the partners are working to revive the landscape.

The Forum is a signatory and committed partner of King County’s Fish, Farm, & Flood Initiative. It is clear what needs to be done to recover salmon, protect farmland, and reduce flood risk, but it can’t be done without partnerships. Take action and learn more at

New King County road across Mary Olson Creek improves transportation for people and salmon

Update: See video below of fish using the newly restored stream.

Between Seattle and Auburn, drivers cross over countless creeks and rivers. Each fall, salmon and steelhead swim a similar journey from Puget Sound, up the Duwamish River leading to the Green River, and into many tributary streams around Auburn. These creeks are vital habitat for salmon. Streams provide areas for salmon to reproduce, hatch, and grow, so young salmon are plentiful and healthy when they enter the ocean.

After leaving local waterways, salmon and steelhead spend several years in the Pacific Ocean before returning to King County waterways to repeat the cycle.

Just like people rely on roads to cross over creeks as they move throughout the region, salmon and steelhead rely on barrier-free creeks flowing under roads to reach vital upstream habitats.

BEFORE: The culvert that conveyed Mary Olson Creek under Green River Road near Kent.

This summer, King County Roads replaced a culvert carrying Mary Olson Creek under Green River Road near Kent. This project ensured that the road crossing the creek is up to current standards and restores fish passage to Mary Olson Creek. Prior to the project, a metal pipe or “culvert” carried the creek under the road. This culvert was old and in poor condition. It was also too small and steep for most fish to swim through and blocked salmon from migrating upstream of the road.

DURING: During construction to replace the old culvert with a new, wider box culvert.

The new creek crossing uses a box culvert that is wide and deep enough to make sure that the creek under the road is “passable” for all species of fish, including salmon and steelhead. This work opens up more than 2,000 feet of stream habitat to full access by salmon and steelhead.

AFTER: The new box culvert that is wide and deep enough to make sure that the creek under the road is “passable” for fish to access spawning habitat.

The county completed construction of the new culvert in late August and this fall, the county will plant some trees and shrubs along the creek channel to improve habitat conditions. The project, which cost about $900,000, provides a road crossing that benefits all, whether they are people travelling on the road or fish swimming in the creek.

The project is one of many being done by the King County Fish Passage Restoration Program with a goal of getting as many fish to the best habitat as soon as possible. 

For more information about the Fish Passage Restoration Program, please contact
Evan Lewis, Water and Land Resources Division.

UPDATE: This video, taken Nov. 18, 2020, shows chum spawning inside the new Green River Road box culvert into Mary Olson Creek near Auburn. The use of the culvert by fish so soon after construction was completed, shows the success of the design and construction of the project by the King County Roads Division.

Video: Steve Conroy, King County Roads Division

Continue reading New King County road across Mary Olson Creek improves transportation for people and salmon

Water and Land Resources Division in the field: Part 1

fish passage team
Fish passage field team members Zach Moore and Kat Krohn measure the diameter of a culvert that may be a barrier to fish trying to pass under a King County owned road.

One culvert at a time

At the frontline of King County’s effort to protect and restore salmon habitat is the fish passage field team

The workday for the fish passage field team starts with a carpool ride from King Street Center to the Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal in West Seattle. Today the team has an important job: Locate, map, and assess stream crossings on Vashon Island.

As part of King County’s greater effort to protect and restore the habitat of native fish, the team will inventory and assess roughly 2,500 sites where streams pass under county owned roads and trails. They are looking for barriers that prevent salmon from reaching important habitat upstream.

Evan Lewis, project manager for the fish passage program, explains it best: “One of the best ways to help our salmon runs is to remove barriers that prevent them from reaching quality stream habitats. Just as we count on smooth roads crossing streams to get to where we want to go, salmon need to be able to get past county roads, trails, and other instream structures to reach habitat that’s essential for their growth and reproduction.”

Most of the stream crossings the team will assess are culverts, a type of pipe allowing a stream to flow freely beneath the road. Culverts come in all sizes and can be made of corrugated metal or concrete.

Barriers to fish passage caused by culverts can include water drops from the culvert to the stream that are too high for the fish to clear, a culvert that is too dry to swim through, or a culvert with a slope and a water flow that is too fast.

Team members Liora llewellyn and Andrea Wong get ready to take stream measurements in the Island Center Natural Area on Vashon Island.

The field team is Rachel Crawford, Kat Krohn, Liora Llewellyn, and Zach Moore, with project oversight from Andrea Wong. The small size of the crew provides an opportunity to build close bonds. Liora reflects on the process of taking culvert measurements with Kat: “It’s almost as if we don’t have to talk to each other, we just know.”

fish passage team ferry photo
Meet the fish passage field team. From left to right: Rachel Crawford, Kat Krohn, Andrea Wong, Zach Moore, and Liora Llewellyn.

Assessing the quality of a stream or culvert is physically demanding work that on occasion means cutting back large patches of blackberry while carefully sparing native plants struggling for equal space. This attention to detail requires crew members to be equipped with an in-depth knowledge of local plants and animals.

The unofficial member of the team is the trusty stadia rod, a surverying instrument that when paired with a laser receiver and range finder helps to measure the slope of a culvert. Measurements are entered into a database in real time using a smartphone or tablet which connects to the County’s mapping database. Other crucial equipment includes measuring tape, a flashlight to see into the murky depths of a culvert, and a solid pair of boots, which on occasion need to be dug out of the mud with a shovel.

Team members Andrea Wong and Liora Llewellyn measure the slope of a culvert housing Judd Creek.

Sometimes measurements don’t work out as planned because of spotty cell phone reception, or monster blackberry bushes that can’t be tamed in a single visit, and the team must trek back to a culvert site on another day or wait for a more opportune time to take measurements. Still, one-by-one, each culvert is assessed.

Aside from the satisfaction of helping to restore vital salmon habitat integral to the cultural and economic wellbeing of Washington State, work in the field for the fish passage team provides an excellent opportunity to experience nature in a way sometimes lost to adulthood. This nature doesn’t have to be a County owned park but can be the green space just off a busy road.

Trekking down into a ravine with Liora at the edge of the Vashon Island Golf and Country Club, we take special care to avoid spiderwebs and red-headed ants that colonize all surface space.

At the bottom of the ravine a tiny pool forms where the culvert once dumped out a stream. Here, insects called water striders dance across the water until Liora jumps in to take measurements with the stadia rod. At the bottom of the ravine the ground is cool and the air smells like dirt. Soon, hopefully salmon fry will populate this stream and have plenty of bugs to eat.

Under a canopy of green, Liora Llewellyn positions the stadia rod to help achieve accurate measurements.

Later, on the ride back to Seattle Liora reflects on the uniqueness of her position: “One of the reasons I took this job is the ability to explore different places. Each culvert or stream has its own unique culture. Each culvert is its own problem, its own mystery you have to solve.”

At the end of the day the team ensures they haven’t unknowingly transferred any invasive hitchhikers, such as the New Zealand mud snail, a tenacious mollusk with a history of becoming an unwelcome pest in streams throughout the world. In invaded areas the snails rapidly become extremely abundant and deplete food sources for native water insects, an essential food source for baby salmon. Taking special care to eliminate transfer of the snails mud is scraped from equipment and boots are placed in a freezer with enough time to kill the unwanted critters. All in a day’s work for the Fish Passage Team.



The salmon in me

By Wadii Boughdir

Processed with VSCO with g3 presetSalmon was a novelty for me.

Growing up in North Africa, I hadn’t had any connection with this delicate fish, although growing up by the Mediterranean Sea, I had a special bond with water, fish and the ecosystem.

There, I witnessed the slow decline in the quality of native fish habitat, and simultaneously the price surge in fish at the market due to a downturn in fisheries.

Moving to the Pacific Northwest, I didn’t know what I was stepping into. I didn’t realize the importance of salmon to this whole region, their cultural significance, and their role in the ecosystem’s balance.

Salmon are not like any other fish I know. Their journey starts in freshwater where they grow up preparing themselves to move gradually downstream to the ocean. After spending between one to six years in the ocean, adult salmon cease to care about food when the time comes to return home to spawn.

salmon-in-meTheir sole mission is to find their way back in spite of human-made obstacles, predators, habitat degradation, and increasing river temperatures. Each year, adult salmon swim upstream against the currents for miles, migrating back to their birth streams to spawn and die, creating life and sacrificing themselves to nourish the ecosystem. It ends where it starts, and it begins where it ends, a beautiful tale of persistence and dedication.

Their miraculous journey is a wonder that depicts the salmon’s uniqueness and significance. As an immigrant, I stop and ponder their story and can’t help but draw connections between humans and salmon. We are different, yet we are similar in our behaviors.

We humans seek different experiences and environments, and we reminisce about returning home. Yet, we can’t always move freely. Salmon too as humans encounter different obstacles in their migration cycle; our walls are their culverts and dams. Pollution and global warming are impacting their habitat, and intensive urbanization is shrinking the areas where it is suitable to live. Climate refugee status isn’t exclusive to humans. It’s expected that salmon and other species will seek refuge north to escape warmer waters. (See articles linked below.)

If we as a society care about the orca whales that eat salmon, forest health, tribal rights, or simply think salmon is delicious, then we must do our part for salmon recovery. We must make our watershed a place where people and salmon coexist. Simple measures like replacing invasive plants with native ones, allowing fallen trees to remain on the ground and in the stream, using natural landscaping practices, and fixing car leaks are paramount to maintaining a healthy habitat. The Pacific Northwest is facing a tough ecosystem challenge that might doom its fauna and flora. As humans we have created these challenges, but we also have the intelligence and power to make our environment healthier.

My love for this place that I now call home and my esteem for the salmon’s struggle drive me to participate in this effort to restore salmon habitat and preserve the beauty of this place.

2018 RC Brow Beater by Jacob Reid Wuertz-7726

About the author

Wadii Boughdir, who was born and raised in Tunisia, is a Communications Intern for the Snoqualmie Watershed Forum’s salmon recovery team. Wadii spent the last year working with the International Rescue Committee in Seattle focusing on improving refugee youth programs and developing outreach and communication initiatives. Prior to his experience in the U.S., Wadii worked on several social and non-profit initiatives in Tunisia and helped create the first debating network there, with the program expanding to Libya. He co-founded an educational non-profit to carry on the civic engagement work and has also worked to promote ecotourism. Currently, Wadii is pursuing a master’s degree in Communication in Communities and Networks at the University of Washington.


Salmon spawning at Rainbow Bend

Underwater video of spawning salmon at Rainbow Bend. from King County DNRP on Vimeo.


The Rainbow Bend Levee Removal and Floodplain Reconnection Project, completed in 2013, was a multi-partner, multi-objective effort to reduce flood risks and improve salmon habitat in the lower Cedar River. The work was done in two phases spanning more than ten years.

In the first phase, King County successfully helped move residents out of harm’s way. Single-family homes and a mobile-home park were threatened with chronic flooding, requiring emergency response and evacuations. King County purchased the flood-prone properties, helped residents relocate to homes in safer places, and then removed the unoccupied dwellings, creating a 40-acre open space.

In the second phase of the project the levee was removed, four logjams were constructed, two new channels and backwater habitat were created, and tens of thousands of native plants were installed. The goal was to improve salmon habitat and floodplain functions and diminish long-term maintenance costs along the trail.

Watch the project video: Restoring Rainbow Bend — Good for People and Fish

Large-scale, multi-objective projects like Rainbow Bend, where old levees are removed or set back, are central to restoring the viability of threatened Puget Sound fall Chinook salmon. At the same time, these projects can reduce flood risks to residents and infrastructure. Following a multi-objective project such as this, effectiveness monitoring is critical to improving the design and outcomes of future projects.

A comprehensive, 10-year monitoring project is underway to determine whether project goals and objectives are being met effectively and efficiently. The monitoring work is focused on changes in the river, large wood, fish habitat, and plant performance. Early results indicate that the project is working well. The channel is migrating again and the river is becoming more complex and suitable for juvenile and adult salmon. The number of juvenile Chinook salmon that can reside in the project site has increased. Adult salmon are spawning at high densities in the largest of the two side channels.

One of the ways King County monitors fish use in project sites is through the use of underwater video. Watching fish underwater allows us to directly observe how they are using their habitat and interacting with each other. In short, it allows us to enter their world and lets them show us what habitats are important.

For an in-depth look at the monitoring details, check out the Monitoring and Maintenance Report, Rainbow Bend Levee Removal and Floodplain Reconnection Project: Monitoring and Maintenance Report.

Salmon recovery work awarded $5.12M in funding from local Cooperative Watershed Management grants

Talk to salmon recovery managers in King County about this year’s round of Cooperative Watershed Management grants, and they’ll describe projects that span the County’s watersheds: Science-based efforts to count out-migrating juvenile salmon; land acquisition for future floodplain restoration projects; noxious weed control and native tree planting along river corridors; and salmon-based educational programs geared for elementary-age kids.

All are important, they say. And all just received a critical boost from this one-of-a-kind grant program, funded each year by the King County Flood Control District.

What makes this grant program so vital, salmon recovery managers note, is not only that it provides needed funds for important projects. The program also brings partners together, enabling them to explore opportunities and set priorities, and acts as leverage for funds at both the state and federal level.

“There’s a lot of interest and a lot of need,” said Jason Mulvihill-Kuntz, salmon recovery manager for the Lake Washington/Cedar/Sammamish Watershed. “At a time when federal and state funding is uncertain, this pot of local funding has been incredibly important in keeping us on track in implementing many of our high-priority projects.”

“The Cooperative Watershed Management Grant Program has been instrumental in helping us build partnerships with the tribes and nonprofits and cities in our county,” said Elissa Ostergaard, the Snoqualmie Watershed Forum salmon recovery manager. “It also brings our partners to the salmon recovery table where we all have to make some hard decisions.”

All told this year, the Flood Control District issued $5.12 million in 42 grants to the four Water Resource Inventory Areas or WRIAs that oversee salmon recovery in King County.

Most of the funding this year – as in years past – supports on-the-ground restoration and protection projects, said Janne Kaje, who oversees the salmon-oriented regional partnerships in the County’s Water and Land Resources Division. But grants will also fund monitoring programs and salmon studies, projects few other sources support, as well as outreach and education.

Particularly important, Janne said, is the fact that the watershed partners – cities, tribes, nonprofits, and other groups – put forward the requests. “It’s not King County that decides what’s best. It’s the people who work in these watersheds who decide what needs to be funded,” he said.

The program has been funded by the Flood Control District since 2012 and, before that, by the King Conservation District. It’s been in existence, in one form or another, nearly 20 years.

“This is local money,” Janne noted. “And that’s important to other funders. It shows that as a community we have skin in the game. I don’t know any other county in the Puget Sound region that has this level of investment.”

So what are the highlights from this year? Here are a handful that stand out from each of the four WRIAs.

Snoqualmie Watershed Forum (WRIA 7)

Elissa calls the $64,512 grant to the Tulalip Tribes for beaver relocation “a win for farmers and a win for salmon.” The project, now in its fourth year, traps lowland beavers considered a nuisance to farmers in the Snoqualmie Watershed and moves them to headwater streams on federal lands, where their “work as ecosystem engineers,” as Elissa put it, is a benefit. Their engineering feats are very useful in headwater streams, where they create pools that provide habitat for juvenile salmon and where the woody material they recruit hosts insects that provide food to the fish. “Our fish evolved with beavers,” Elissa said. “And this is a project that is excellent for fish.”

Another noteworthy grant went to Sound Salmon Solutions, which will use the $99,898 award to conduct 11.4 acres of restoration along the mainstem Snoqualmie River. “It’s so important to plant trees along the banks of rivers, because they create shade, which in turn creates cool water that salmon need,” she said.


Other significant projects include:

  • A $60,000 grant to the Tulalip Tribes to continue the annual monitoring of juvenile salmon outmigration in the Snoqualmie River basin.
  • A $28,431 grant that will enable King County to measure fish density in edge habitats in the Upper Carlson Restoration Project.
  • A $75,000 grant to Forterra to purchase 26 acres of high-quality habitat along the South Fork of the Skykomish River near Baring.

Lake Washington/Cedar/Sammamish Watershed (WRIA 8)

A $362,700 grant to Seattle Public Utilities will fund an acquisition project along the Cedar River that Jason called a high-priority, setting the stage for a restoration project that would reconnect the river with its floodplain to provide better habitat for salmon and reduce flood risk in the area. Much of the Royal Arch Reach about 15 miles upstream from the Cedar’s mouth is entirely within the channel migration zone. This acquisition – about a third of an acre – will support ongoing efforts to reconnect the river to its floodplain along this reach.

“That’s the type of work that is the highest priority in our watershed’s recovery plan,” Jason said. “Development in our floodplains has reduced the area where juvenile salmon can rear and grow. The more we can do to open those places back up to salmon, the greater our chances of increasing juvenile salmon survival.”

Another significant project, he said, is a $583,142 grant to the state Department of Natural Resources to remove armoring around Bird Island near the mouth of the Cedar River in Lake Washington, which has taken away critical shallow areas that young salmon need to find food and steer clear of predators before heading out to Puget Sound. The shoreline enhancement project will enable project managers to remove debris, add sand and gravel, install log structures, and plant the shoreline area with native plants – all to create a more natural shoreline.


Other noteworthy projects in WRIA 8 include:

  • Two projects totaling $299,972 to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and King County to fund critical monitoring of juvenile Chinook salmon and spawning adult salmon numbers, providing data that will enable salmon managers to better understand whether or not the watershed’s salmon populations are improving.
  • A $81,312 grant to Forterra to initiate efforts to control invasive Japanese knotweed and restore native plant communities along Bear Creek, a tributary to the Sammamish River, by applying a highly successful model for engaging landowners in controlling invasive species and restoring riparian areas.

The Green/Duwamish Watershed (WRIA 9)

At $882,799, the grant to the City of Kent for the Downey Farmstead Project along the Green River was the largest CWM grant the flood district issued this year. Doug Osterman, the salmon recovery manager for the Green/Duwamish Watershed (WRIA 9), said it’s well-deserved. “This project is the poster child for the way salmon recovery, flood control, and recreation are intertwined.”

The high-visibility project will support Kent’s efforts to construct nearly 2,000 lineal feet of side channel to the Green River, providing rearing and refuge habitat for threatened Chinook and other salmon species. It also provides 130 acre-feet of flood storage to reduce flooding in both urban and agricultural areas near this stretch of the Green.

Floodplain projects in the Lower Green build on previous investments to protect spawning habitat in the upper parts of the watershed. “If we’re going to invest in spawning habitat in the middle Green, investing in rearing habitat in the Lower Green is important,” Doug explained. Salmon coming out of the upper watershed, where the habitat is good, struggle to make it through the gauntlet of the region’s urban areas. “You’re obviously not getting much value (of the upper watershed work) if the fish die before they get to Puget Sound. So this project addresses a major factor in the decline of salmon.”


Other important grants funded in WRIA 9 include:

  • A $250,000 grant for acquisitions along the lower Green River, allowing for future restoration and habitat improvement efforts.
  • A $90,000 grant to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to operate a smolt trap to measure outmigration of juvenile salmon.
  • A $21,000 grant to Seattle Aquarium’s Beach Naturalist Program, which trains volunteers to engage the public about the importance of the nearshore environment.

The Puyallup/White Watershed (WRIA 10)

WRIA 10, which is only partly in King County, applied for two grants, both of which were funded. One is a $113,050 grant to fund a portion of the construction costs of the Middle Boise Creek Riparian Restoration Project. Boise Creek is a tributary of the White River – and while it’s been heavily modified, it’s also highly productive for salmon, said Stephanie Shelton, a senior ecologist in the County’s River and Floodplain Management Section who leads King County’s salmon recovery efforts in WRIA 10. The other is a $113,050 grant to the Puyallup Tribe to monitor the outmigration of juvenile salmon on the White River, a project that will provide critical data to help target recovery efforts in the watershed.

The White river hosts ESA-listed spring-run Chinook, the last existing early returning or “spring” chinook population in southern Puget Sound, Stephanie said, and restoration efforts are ongoing.

“Unfortunately, we have very little data to help us understand the effects of our recovery work. The information the tribe collects will be invaluable.”


Logjams make the Cedar River unsafe for recreation, but they’re great for fish

A cottonwood spans the Cedar River, one of many downed trees that have led to the river’s closure.

The King County Sheriff’s Office announced earlier this month that a portion of the Cedar River is closed to all in-river recreational use for the second season in a row due to numerous logjams, downed trees, hanging limbs and other blockages.

The river is closed from river mile 4.5 to river mile 13.5, a nine-mile stretch from Renton to Maple Valley. Twelve blockages – nine of them serious – make the river too dangerous for recreation, according to the Sheriff’s Office. The blockages are similar in number and severity to last year – and all are due to naturally occurring processes.

John Koon, a senior engineer in the County’s Rivers Section, recently walked the banks of the Cedar and could see why law enforcement made the decision. He saw two punctured rafts wrapped around a logjam, a sobering sight. John has been monitoring rivers in King County for more than two decades. “I don’t remember the Cedar ever having so many hazards.”

But there’s an important twist in this ongoing discussion over the state of the Cedar River. The strainers, spanners and logjams may be bad for those who want to float the Cedar, but they’re excellent for fish, including two runs – fall chinook and steelhead – that are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and protected under tribal treaty rights.

Adding to the situation is the unique nature of the Cedar, a river that brings this dilemma into focus like no other in the region. The Cedar is just the right size to be closed by a spanner and just slow enough for some of those spanners to remain in place. It’s near an urban center – and thus to people who want recreate in it, including boaters, anglers and those who like to float the river. And all that wood provides invaluable habitat to ESA-listed fish, fish that the state and tribes co-manage with an eye towards ensuring their survival and resilience.

“We’re working right now with the tribes, the state and other jurisdictions to try to figure out the best path forward with the Cedar. But there are no good models,” said Josh Baldi, director of the Water and Land Resources Division.

“How do you make a river safe for recreationalists while improving habitat for fish? We know how to do this when designing restoration projects, but it’s far trickier with natural wood recruitment. This is largely unchartered terrain.”

So why does wood in a river matter so much? Large pieces of wood trap other pieces of wood, creating complex habitat that supports salmon at several stages in their life cycle, explains Sarah McCarthy, a senior ecologist in the County’s Water and Land Resources Division.

Wood, for instance, retains gravel, which is needed for spawning. It encourages riverbed scour, which in turn creates pools where salmon can rest, find deep, cool refuge and hide from predators. Logjams slow down the flow and sometimes split a channel, creating new channels and backwaters critical to healthy salmon runs. Wood is also the basis for an aquatic food web – invertebrates live in the downed trees and logs and occasionally fall into the river, where they’re snatched up by hungry fish.

“The research is clear that wood in rivers and streams improves habitat quality,” Sarah said.

Western Washington’s rivers used to be filled with wood. But over the course of the past century or so, much of that wood was removed or prevented from falling into rivers – the result of logging and agricultural practices, navigational improvements and flood control efforts.

Those actions came with a cost. The removal of wood led to the destruction of salmon habitat and added to the steady decline of salmon in the Pacific Northwest. Today, 17 distinct salmon populations are listed as threatened or endangered under the ESA in Washington. And while wood removal was seen as a way to provide flood protection, in many instances it made the situation worse – causing faster, more unconstrained flows, erosion and channelization.

Government agencies, including King County, are now seeking a new path, trying to balance all of these competing forces in support of rivers that are healthy and resilient and that are good for both people and fish. As a result, the County routinely incorporates wood into both restoration and flood control projects, using the best science and engineering practices to do so and keeping stakeholders – including river safety advocates and recreationalists – informed throughout the process.

Earlier this month, project managers in the Water and Land Resources Division held two public meetings to discuss several current projects that will use placed wood either to improve habitat or provide flood protection.

As for the Cedar, where naturally occurring wood – not wood used in restoration or flood control projects – is making in-water recreation dangerous, Kate Akyuz, a senior environmental scientist in the Rivers Section, is working with the Sheriff’s Office, state officials, tribal biologists and others to determine a course that makes sense. It’s possible, for instance, that some of the wood could be shifted or removed, she said, noting that doing so would require the County to mitigate for that removal by creating salmon habitat elsewhere.

Josh attended one of the recent public meetings about large wood where he discussed his own love of river rafting as well as the environmental challenges at a place like the Cedar River.

“We have a lot of needs we’re trying to balance in a river that is important to many different constituents,” he said after the meeting. “Our goal is to approach this issue using both solid science and thoughtful public policy and to do what’s right for both people and fish.”

RM 9_7 Cummins IMG_3718_resize.JPG
This tree spans the Cedar at river mile 9.7.

New smolt slide will help salmon navigate aging Locks

New “smolt slides” will help young salmon get through the Ballard Locks more safely on their way to the ocean

The US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) recently installed a new kind of “smolt slide” to help juvenile salmon pass through Seattle’s Hiram M. Chittenden (Ballard) Locks on their out-migration to the ocean.

Compared to older versions, the new slides are safer for the salmon and safer for staff to install. They also include improved sensors to detect fish passing through the facility, providing data critical to understanding how salmon migrate in and out of WRIA 8 (the Lake Washington/Cedar/ Sammamish Watershed) and what may help their recovery.

The work is part of a Planning Assistance to States Agreement between King County (via WRIA 8) and the Corps that shares costs related to monitoring Chinook salmon migration in the watershed. It includes installing detectors at the Locks, capturing and tagging juvenile Chinook, and determining juvenile salmon survival rates through the Lake Washington system.

Salmon face challenges navigating the 100 year-old Locks on their way out of and back into the watershed and the smolt slides are one step toward an easier passage for these iconic and threatened fish.

More news about the Ballard Locks

Hiram M. Chittenden-Ballard Locks Centennial Celebration
“One hundred years ago, The Locks and Ship Canal were built by Seattle and the Corps of Engineers as a commercial navigation route to develop the City of Seattle. Today the Ballard (Hiram M. Chittenden) Locks are the Nation’s busiest with over 40,000 vessels per year [passing through.] Boats ‘lock thru’ 24 hours a day, except during maintenance. In addition, a significant salmon migration passes through the Locks that can total over 100,000 salmon.”

Economic Impacts of the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks
“The Ballard Locks provide $1.2 billion a year in economic impact to our region according to a recent study by the McDowell Group, funded by maritime and industrial businesses, Port of Seattle, City of Seattle, and King County.  The report describes the benefits of reliable operation of the Locks, the potential losses in the event of a failure, and steps needed to repair the 100-year-old facility.”

“Happy 100th birthday, Ballard Locks. Hope you get the repairs you wished for” – KUOW News [AUDIO], June 27, 2017

“Ballard Locks Repairs” – KIRO7 News [VIDEO], June 27, 2017

%d bloggers like this: