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Environmental reporter Christopher Dunagan discusses the challenges of protecting Puget Sound and all things water-related.
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Estuary grants will aid Chico Creek and more

July 8th, 2010 by cdunagan

I’ve written lots of stories about replacing culverts to improve salmon passage, but a $600,000 grant to the Suquamish Tribe will be used to remove a culvert and fully open up the estuary at the mouth of Chico Creek.

This culvert on Chico Creek is scheduled for removal. Here, Suquamish Fisheries Manager Jay Zischke and the tribe's environmental biologist Tom Ostrom survey the scene.
Photo courtesy of Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission

The Chico Creek grant was among some $30 million in grants announced Tuesday by the Environmental Protection Agency as part of the Puget Sound Estuary Program. I wrote about the grants and quoted involved officials in a story published in yesterday’s Kitsap Sun. I’ll cover the other Puget Sound projects here after talking about the one on Chico Creek.

Most roads that follow a shoreline in the Puget Sound region go somewhere important, but Kittyhawk Drive is a dead-end. After crossing Chico Creek, the road serves only three homes, if I recall correctly.

After the stream flows through a culvert under Highway 3, it passes beneath Kittyhawk Drive with enough force to blow out some of the large rocks planted there to help salmon make it upstream. Removing the culvert will improve the estuary and help with the fish-passage problem at that location, but the project needs to address a change in elevation to get up to the freeway culvert.

The freeway culvert is another obstacle of concern. Local officials are working with the Washington Department of Transportation to find a way to replace that freeway culvert with a bridge. Needless to say, the cost will be enormous.

Another Chico Creek culvert destined for replacement is the one under Golf Club Road, just upstream from Kitsap Golf and Country Club. That culvert replacement is part of an extensive restoration of the stream channel where if flows through the golf course.

Yes, all this sounds like a lot of expense for one salmon stream, but biologists will tell you that Chico Creek supports the largest chum salmon run on the Kitsap Peninsula and provides a decent run of coho and potentially other species. Once the migrating adult salmon make it through the culverts near the mouth of the stream, they have good spawning habitat upstream in the Chico Creek watershed. Tributaries include Kitsap Creek, which flows out of Kitsap Lake; Wildcat Creek, which flows out of Wildcat Lake; and Dickerson Creek, which originates within a vast undeveloped forestland.

Exactly when we’ll see the culvert under Kittyhawk Drive removed remains uncertain. First, a new driveway must be built for residents on the far side of the culvert. I’m told there is still some design work to be done before contracts can go out to bid, and construction must be scheduled around the salmon migrations.

Other projects approved for funding:

Kitsap County (from Wednesday’s story):

Bremerton will receive $659,000 to study the Gorst watershed and develop a plan for protecting the ecosystem after the area is annexed into the city. The plan is needed to balance the goals of urban development under the Growth Management Act with requirements for protecting fragile ecosystems, officials said.

Kitsap County Health District will receive $668,034 to launch a four-year monitoring program of the marine shoreline in Kitsap County. Surveys will be conducted along shorelines not covered by existing programs, such as Sinclair Inlet near Bremerton and Liberty Bay near Poulsbo. The grant also includes nearly $300,000 to support an existing low-interest loan program to help homeowners repair or replace their septic systems.

• Kitsap County will receive $763,200 to identify shorelines degraded by development and work with landowners to improve ecological processes. The project will enlist the efforts of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the volunteer Kitsap County Beach Watchers Program. The grant proposal includes funding for one or more pilot projects, including the removal of a bulkhead at the county’s Anna Smith Children’s Park.

Other projects (from Wednesday’s story)

State Agencies
• Puget Sound Partnership will receive about $1 million a year for the next four years to establish an education coalition of more than 300 agencies and organizations. The goal is to help people understand the problems and solutions involving Puget Sound, as outlined in the Puget Sound Action Agenda. Efforts will be made to measure changes in behavior.

• Puget Sound Regional Council will receive $1 million for a regional Transfer of Development Rights program, a market-based approach to shift development from areas designated for protection to areas designated for growth. The money is targeted to increase participation by cities in the program.

Mason County
• The Squaxin Island Tribe will receive $975,000 to restore Goldsborough Creek and improve estuary habitat where the stream flows into Oakland Bay near Shelton. The express goal is to increase annual coho salmon production by 15 percent before 2020.

Jefferson and Clallam counties
• Jefferson County Public Health Department will receive $1 million to locate sources of bacterial pollution that threaten shellfish beds in the two counties. The project includes funding for a septic loan program and efforts to improve waste-management on farms.

• Jefferson County Department of Community Development will receive $533,761 to establish a Watershed Stewardship Resource Center in Jefferson County to promote sustainable practices, including stormwater management and shoreline protection.

Hood Canal and Strait
• Point No Point Treaty Council will receive $205,592 to assess the condition of marine shorelines and major river corridors in Hood Canal and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The effort will rely on aerial photo surveys to identify areas suitable for protection or restoration and to establish a baseline from which to measure future ecosystem changes.

Other Puget Sound projects (from the EPA news release and interactive map):

Snohomish Basin Watershed Characterization and Protection, $630,803
Project description: The Snohomish Basin is a major drainage in Puget Sound. Land use pressures and climate change threaten to overwhelm the long-term viability of fish populations, farms and forests. Snohomish County, King County, and the Tulalip Tribes will develop a protection strategy to address these challenges.

Monitoring of habitats in Lake Washington/Cedar/Sammamish Watershed, $995,716
Project description: King County will monitor up to 50 stream reaches in the Cedar-Sammamish watershed and 10 EPA Sentinel sites to monitor watershed conditions.

Skagit County Alternative Futures Project, $815,500
Project description: To sustain natural resource lands and industries, and accommodate population growth, Skagit County and its partners are developing a 50-year plan for future land use and water consumption.

Piper’s Creek Flow Control Plan, $850,904
Project description: Seattle Public Utilities will establish a stormwater flow control plan for the Piper’s Creek watershed using hydrologic modeling and green stormwater infrastructure techniques.

Managing Growth in Island Communities, $696,184
Project description: The San Juan Islands are impacted by one of the most rapid growth rates in the state. This project builds San Juan County’s capacity to manage growth sustainably and establishes a regional forum to help share information on how to protect island communities as they grow.

Watershed Characterization, $885,641
Project description: Thurston County will coordinate with the cities of Lacey, Olympia, Tumwater, Rainier and Yelm to implement watershed-based land-use plans and regulations. This project will integrate stakeholders, the scientific community, and policy makers to work at a watershed scale to accommodate projected growth while protecting aquatic ecosystem processes.

Budd to Henderson Inlets Coastal Conservation Initiative, $1 millionProject description: The Squaxin Island Tribe and its partners will assess expansion of the Woodard Bay Natural Resource Conservation Area; protect 150 acres of habitat; facilitate removal of two passage barriers to enhance salmon spawning habitat; and establish an educational center.

A proposal for measuring and achieving “no net loss’ of ecological function, $999,915
Project description: Clallam County is updating its Shoreline Master Program and is required to develop policies and regulations to achieve no net loss of ecological functions. The county will create a framework for assessing development impacts using ecological indicators. This will yield information for shoreline management strategies and better permitting.

County to City Transfer of Development Rights from Nearshore and Upland Habitats, $1 million
Project description: King and Pierce Counties will provide models to show how local governments around Puget Sound can use Transfer of Development Rights to protect natural resources in a cost effective manner.

Protecting Puget Sound Watersheds from Agricultural Runoff, $710,887
Project description: The Whatcom Conservation District, with dairy farmers and other partners, will develop an Application Risk Management system. By evaluating pollution risks and improving manure application procedures, this system will reduce runoff events and agricultural pollution reaching groundwater, surface water, salmon bearing rivers, shellfish beds, and the air.

Birch Bay Characterization and Watershed Planning Pilot, $772,570
Project description: The Whatcom Conservation District will implement watershed management recommendations to rural and urban areas to reduce impacts from land use practices. The work will encourage residents to adopt stewardship practices, use low impact development and agricultural best management practices, and participate in restoration projects. It will also provide specific stormwater flow volumes.

Stormwater Retrofit Plan for WRIA 9 and Estimation for Retrofitting all Development Lands of Puget Sound, $999,981
Project description: King County will develop a cost estimate and prioritization plan for implementing stormwater best management practices and low impact development techniques. In-stream flow and water quality goals will be developed, and retrofits will be optimized to meet these goals at minimum cost.

Pierce County Shellfish Watersheds Project, $751,211
Project description: The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department will take a comprehensive, multi-faceted approach to prevent threats to water quality in Pierce County, focusing on shellfish areas most at risk.

Clean Samish Initiative Implementation: Samish Bay Watershed Pollution Identification and Correction, $961,980
Project description: Samish Bay’s commercial shellfish growing areas has suffered closures due to high bacteria levels. Expanding upon the Clean Samish Initiative work, Skagit County will identify and remedy sources of fecal contamination. A program of outreach, monitoring, connecting landowners with resources, and follow-up will result in watershed resident awareness.

Developing and Piloting Green Shores for Homes on the City of Seattle’s Lake Washington Shorelines and in San Juan County, $584,122
Project description: The City of Seattle, with San Juan County and Washington Sea Grant, will test a program to improve ecosystem functions and processes along shorelines of single-family waterfront homes.

Protection and Enhancement of the Riparian Buffers in WRIA 7, $651,555
Project description: Invasive knotweeds have invaded the Snoqualmie/Skykomish watershed, threatening water and habitat quality by spreading rapidly and displacing native riparian buffer vegetation. King County and its partners will work to comprehensively replace the knotweeds with native vegetation.

Community Partnership for Riparian Restoration on the Lower Cedar River, $902,455
Project description: Seattle Public Utilities will establish a partnership among a variety of entities to restore riparian ecosystems on both public and private property in the lower Cedar River. The project will encourage landowner participation in activities that contribute to riparian restoration, invasive plant eradication and native vegetation planting.

Red Creek – Reach 6 Hydro-Geomorphic Restoration, $598,618
Project description: This project will replace two fish passage barriers in the Red Creek system affecting upstream migration to salmon habitat. It will restore natural hydro-geomorphic processes essential to successful downstream floodplain restoration activities. (Upper Skagit Tribe)

Samish River Invasive Knotweed Control Project and Riparian Restoration, $449,961
Project description: The Samish River, a salmonid bearing system, is infested with invasive Japanese Knotweed. Small scale control efforts have been undertaken but no coordinated systematic effort has been initiated. This project would be a multiagency and multiyear control effort. (Samish Indian Nation)

Ediz Hook Restoration – Phase lll, Port Angeles Harbor – Strait of Juan de Fuca, $581,260
Project description: The project site is located on the southern shore of Ediz Hook, a natural but degraded 3-mile spit on the Strait of Juan de Fuca that forms Port Angeles Harbor. This proposal represents the third phase of restoration efforts on Ediz Hook. The project goal is to restore processes along 1,200 feet of Ediz Hook shoreline. (Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe)

Monitoring and Adaptive Management of the Nisqually Delta Tidal Marsh Restoration, $600,000
Project description: The Nisqually Delta represents the largest tidal marsh restoration in Puget Sound. It remains uncertain how the Delta and its biota will respond to restoration of tidal inundation. The purpose of this proposal is to fund research by the Nisqually Tribe and three U.S. Geological Survey partners focused on assessing the effectiveness of the Delta projects at restoring estuarine processes, habitats, and the capacity of the Delta for supporting Chinook salmon and other fish. (Nisqually Tribe)

Fall City Park Riparian Restoration and Traditional Ecological Knowledge Project, $251,520
Project description: These funds will complete the Fall City Park Restoration started by the Snoqualmie Tribe. The riparian buffer at Fall City Park is infested with the non-indigenous plant species. Critical ecosystem processes are impaired because of the magnitude of the invasion, which occurs in a reach of the Snoqualmie River known for Chinook and steelhead habitat.

Innovative Planning, Design and Regulatory Approaches to Protect Water Resources in Quilceda Creek, $550,000
Project description: To meet demand for future development, the Tulalip Tribes will employ Smart Growth and Low Impact Development (LID) to protect habitat resources found in the Quilceda Creek corridor. This proposal will use landscape analysis and community outreach to develop Smart Growth planning and LID guidelines and incentives to develop permit/regulatory requirements to be included in an updated Tribal Development Code. It will also explore optionsfor managing onsite septic systems in a high groundwater area to close a current regulatory gap.

Protecting and Restoring Waters Important to the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, $600,000
Project description: The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe will: 1) Conduct channel restoration required to restore the Lower Dungeness floodplain via dike setback, and large wood restoration in the Upper watershed, 2) Purchase 28.5 acres of floodplain forest bordering 1100 feet of Dungeness River channel, 3) Restore tidal hydrology and habitat connectivity in an important estuary, and 4) Assess the extent of macroalgae blooms to understand what natural and human-induced conditions may be contributing to them.

Reducing Effective Imperious Surface in small Urban Catchment Using Low Impact Development, $554,362
Project description: Six species of salmon use Clarks Creek as spawning and rearing habitat and many other up-river origin fish also use the creek. Sediment volumes that exceed the system’s natural transport capacity obviate natural production potential. The Puyallup Tribe of Indians will reduce sediment, nutrient and bacteria loads to Clarks Creek and its tributaries by reducing the effective impervious area in the watershed through the use of low impact development and measures that target key pollutant source areas.

Peak Flows and Chinook Survival in the Stillaguamish Watershed, $335,011
Project description: This project will investigate the mechanisms of flow driven Chinook mortality, separate climate induced peak flow drivers from those related to anthropogenic factors, and develop a parcel based prioritization framework for restoration and protection actions in the North and South Fork of the Stillaguamish River. (Stillaguamish Tribe)

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One Response to “Estuary grants will aid Chico Creek and more”

  1. jack stanfill Says:

    Myself, and many others, are glad to see restoration in the Chico Creek Waterbasin. Chico Creek, Dickerson Creek, Lost Creek, Wildcat Creek are critical to the Chico Wildlife Corridor.

    According to the Chico Watershed Alternatives Analysis, a study of the Chico Basin in 2002, the water basin drains 16.3 square miles of land to the western slopes of Dyes Inlet. “The watershed drains 68 miles of streams, 17 of which provide spawning and rearing habitat to salmon.”

    It was during the aforementioned study that the designation “Intermin Rural Forest” was created. “Interim Forest represeet about 2,500 acres in the watershed.” “The Committee identified this land as important because it contains much of the watersheds best fish and wildlife habitat, and many of the disignated Interim Forest lands fall into the Chico Wildlife Corridor.” This is a critical north/south corridor.

    I hope that Craig Ueland, owner of Ueland Tree Farm and Mineral Resources, will research the “facts” concerning the critical Chico Wildlife Corridor before he begins 50 years of mining in the headwaters of Dickerson Creek. Since Kitsap County has approved the mining operation in this wildlife corridor, It is Mr. Ueland’s choice. Will the people who lease his mines help the wildlife habit and fish bearing waters of the Chico Creek Water Basin, or will Ueland just take his gravel money and leave us to restore the environment?
    Chris, thanks for keeping an eye on our waterways.

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"In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught."Baba Dioum, Senegalese conservationist

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