County completes salmon habitat restoration – Tacoma Weekly


Pierce County, with funds from the Commencement Bay Trustee Council, has completed a capital improvement project to expand salmon habitat and reduce flooding risk in the Clear Creek watershed. The Clear Creek Habitat Restoration project, located off state Route 167/River Road East near 29th Avenue East, completed in late October after nearly four months of construction.
 
This project, led by the Pierce County Planning and Public Works Surface Water Management Division, provides critically important refuge and off-channel habitat for juvenile salmon and other associated wildlife in the lower Puyallup River system. It also increases flood storage capacity by removing sections of an existing access roadway that separated Clear Creek from an adjacent wetland owned by the Port of Tacoma.
 
The road removal efforts at the 16-acre site included excavating approximately 5,000 cubic yards of fill materials from the floodplain. Crews excavated six 75-foot-wide depressions within the former roadway to allow for better tidal exchange. These depressions allow salmon to move more easily between the Port’s wetland site and Clear Creek, greatly improving access to critical salmon-rearing habitat. The project also enhances riparian vegetation by the installation of native plants.
 
“This project demonstrates Pierce County’s commitment to delivering flood reduction measures and salmon recovery and habitat restoration efforts,” said Kevin Dragon, Assistant County Engineer and Surface Water Management Manager. “With historic flooding events experienced in this area over the years, this project was a win-win solution that benefits our residents and wildlife. The success of the Clear Creek Habitat Restoration Site is a testament to the collaborative vision and combined efforts among our partners in our region.”
 
Pierce County will receive funding from the Commencement Bay Trustee Council as part of a pollution case settlement conducted through a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) program to assess, remediate and restore habitat damaged by oil spills and pollutant releases.
 
“The Puyallup watershed has seen more than its fair share of impacts from pollution,” said Jen Steger, Pacific Region manager for NOAA Fisheries’ Office of Habitat Conservation. “This restoration is an important step toward a healthier future for salmon and people. We are grateful for the longtime partners who share this strong vision for a healthier future for the river, its people, and this place.”
 
Pierce County will monitor the project for five years to ensure proper function and the intended habitat benefits are achieved. Afterward, the Port of Tacoma will oversee the project area along with their stewardship of the overall site.
 
The construction phase cost approximately $1.5 million. A portion of the construction funding will include the National Resource Damage Assessment Grant from the Commencement Bay Trustee Council, a group of natural resource trustees established to conduct restoration to natural resources damaged by pollution. 

The Clear Creek flooding project is expected to take at least 10 years to complete. The first phase will focus on property acquisitions from willing sellers in the area. Once property acquisitions are completed, a new levee system to protect infrastructure outside of the property purchase area will be constructed. 

 
As part of the county’s Clear Creek Strategy Plan, the Wheel Inn Mobile Home Park property on 31st Avenue East off State Route 167/River Road East is being acquisitioned to further the work of the greater Clear Creek Floodplain Reconnection Project. The Wheel Inn Mobile Home Park property site has a primary home and 10 occupied mobile homes. With proximity to Puyallup River and Clear Creek, the existing property, house and mobile homes were being damaged by flooding repetitively. Once the purchase and sale of the property and structures are finalized, Pierce County will remove and demolish the structures and clean up the site. As a result, this project will allow this 1.6-acre property to revert to a natural floodplain and open space for floodplain storage, salmon and other wildlife.
 
Learn more about this project at piercecountywa.gov/clearcreekhabitat 

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