Photo: The new side channel shortly after being fully connected with the mainstem of South Prairie Creek. Not only did this new channel create a half-mile of salmon habitat, but it reconnects the mainstem to the adjacent floodplain, which allows for critical processes that help with flood storage, maintaining flow during summer months, and keeping water temperatures cool.
After years of planning and months of construction, the South Prairie Creek Preserve project reached an important milestone recently in the effort to improve salmon habitat in the Puyallup River watershed. On a sunny fall day in early October, the barriers that had cordoned off the new side channel from the mainstem of South Prairie Creek were removed, resulting in unobstructed flow and fish access to this new habitat.
Even before this, salmon migrating upstream were navigating their way through the channel-spanning structures that were built in the mainstem to recruit gravel and create habitat features where fish can rest, feed, rear, and spawn. The new side channel has also created a half-mile of new habitat that fish can use year-round.
In addition to these in-stream improvements, the project includes several dozen acres of restoration planting. Over time, these plantings will create a riparian and floodplain forest that will sustain many of the ecosystem process currently missing from this site. Some of the project area was able to be planted prior to construction, but now that the earthwork is done, the planting effort ramps up to finish the job. A HUGE THANKS is due to the coalition of partners who worked doggedly to bring this project to fruition: South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group, Pierce County, and the Puyallup Tribe, in addition to project engineers Natural System Designs, contractor Active Construction Inc., cultural resource consultant Aqua Terra, Snohomish CD engineering staff, and field crewsfrom Earth Corps and the Washington Conservation Corps. Funding provided by the WA State Salmon Recovery Funding Board, Dept. of Ecology, Puget Sound Partnership's Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration Fund, Puget Sound National Estuary Program's Habitat Strategic Initiative, Puyallup Tribe of Indians, Pierce County Surface Water Management, Puyallup Watershed Salmon Recovery Lead Entity, and WA Conservation Commission. And last but not least, many thanks to the volunteers who have been part of the planting efforts over the years! We couldn’t do it without you!
Photo Caption: PCD hosted a few small
planting parties along the banks of the new
side channel in honor of Orca Recovery Day (Oct. 17).
SPCP Project Facts:
- Demolition of 11 buildings and a creosote bridge over South Prairie Creek.
- Installation of a new bridge over Silver Springs Creek.
- Restoration of 2,600 linear feet of side channel on the north floodplain.
- Installation of 113 engineered log structures, resulting in 4,648 new pieces of wood in the project reach.
- Noxious weed treatment and re-vegetation of up to 50 acres of floodplain and riparian forest.
- Project cost: $4.85 million.