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Growing salmon need small creek deltas and small creek mouths for rearing, but after years of development, many historic creeks have vanished or been directed to drainage pipes. Docks and bulkheads along the lakeshore can also limit habitat. In 2014, the City of Seattle re-established 440 feet of natural stream channel through southeast Seattle’s Beer Sheva Park and reconnected the creek to Lake Washington to provide critical habitat for juvenile Chinook salmon. The newly-restored Mapes Creek is now one of a series of “rest stops” the City of Seattle is recreating for juvenile Chinook along the Lake Washington shoreline. By replacing the piped creek outlet with a daylighted connection to Lake Washington, the project will also reduce stormwater overflows, which can release untreated water to Lake Washington during heavy rains. Other improvements to the park, in one of Seattle’s most diverse and historically underserved neighborhoods, included adding native plants , walkways and artwork, and enhancing park drainage. Funding for the project – nearly $4 million — was provided by Seattle Public Utilities’ capital improvement program, Seattle Parks and Recreation, and the City of Seattle’s 1% For Art program. Grant funding was provided by the King Conservation District, Salmon Recovery Funding Board, and the Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration program Learn more about this project at: http://www.seattle.gov/util/EnvironmentConservation/Projects/MapesCreek/index.htm

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Juvenile Chinook like to hang out along shorelines close to river mouths, seeking shallow areas with overhanging plants where they can feed and grow while protected from predators. There’s not a lot of habitat like that left around our urban watershed. Thus a recent project restoring 1,300 feet of Lake Washington shoreline adjacent to Boeing’s Renton plant near the mouth of the Cedar River – where 150,000 cubic yards of fill was dumped in the lake 50 years ago — was key to preserving a critical corridor for migrating salmon.

Partnering with Boeing, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Washington’s Department of Ecology, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) completed this, the largest shoreline enhancement project in South Lake Washington, early in 2015. With $154,000 from the Salmon Recovery Funding Board (SRFB) to initiate the project and pay for design, the partnership provided roughly $3 million to finish the job.

Project crews worked to restore habitat by:

  • Removing from the shoreline 900 feet of a derelict flume wall, bulkheads, 21 creosote pilings, riprap and other debris.
  • Placing sand, gravel and cobbles to improve habitat, expanding the existing sandy cove, which three years of pre-project monitoring showed was favored by juvenile Chinook.
  • Installing three groups of logs to further improve this shallow-water habitat.
  • Relocating Boeing’s stormwater outfalls (at the company’s expense) to deeper water to keep runoff away from shoreline habitat.
  • Removing blackberries and other invasive plants from three upland acres, and replanting with willows and other natives.

WSDOT, involved in part as mitigation for the construction of the new SR-520 bridge, will monitor the site for ten years.

DNR project staff Monica Shoemaker notes that nearby Bird Island, part of Gene Coulon Park but on state property, would be a great next project in the ongoing process to improve Lake Washington shorelines for salmon.

Learn more about this project here: http://www.dnr.wa.gov/Publications/em_fs12_005.pdf

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Two new tools will help you navigate the permit process for your green shoreline, dock or other shoreline project. The Governor’s Office of Regulatory Assistance (ORA) web site now contains an updated project questionnaire and new examples of shoreline permits.

Project questionnaire

You start the online questionnaire by answering basic questions about your project.

The questionnaire will first ask you to choose a city or county. The next page gives you an option of checking the box for a “Green Shorelines” project. Other common shoreline project types include “Watercraft Lifts” and “Docks and Piers.”

Dividing the questionnaire into project types allowed ORA to simplify and reduce the number of questions, asking only questions specific to the project.

Green Shorelines questionnaire

The system will ask you to answer 11 questions, such as “Will you be repairing or modifying a bulkhead?” and “Will you be creating a new beach cove?” Each question includes a tip, such as “Check with your local jurisdiction. Your project may qualify for Shoreline Exemption.”  (more…)

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