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Adopt-A-Stream offers waterway tune-ups
MARYSVILLE According to the Adopt-A-Stream Foundation, the basic creek geography for this region goes something like this:
Swamp, North and Little Bear creeks flow from rapidly urbanizing southwest Snohomish County to the Sammamish River and Lake Washington. Quilceda Creek flows through the official Urban Growth Area between Arlington and Marysville and into the Snohomish River.
The salmon habitat in these streams is in trouble for a number of reasons, according to Adopt-A-Stream's Jennifer Jones. That's why the group is now offering free stream or creek surveys for landowners along any of those waterways. The idea is to find the means to improve the salmon habitat and the overall water quality.
After completing an initial study, Adopt-A-Stream will create a plan to enhance the waterway in question and work with the property owner to find ways of fixing any problems discovered.
Jones and others said the program already has attracted numerous takers. In one spot along Little Bear Creek, Adopt-A-Stream came across a private road that not only crossed a tributary but blocked fish from using the waterway. During heavy rains, the tributary flooded the road.
"We solved the problem by removing the culverts, then building a bridge crossing," said Adopt-A-Stream Senior Ecologist Tom Hardy. "The landowner kicked in funds for the materials, and we did all the design, permit and construction work."
Adopt-A-Stream spokesperson Jennifer Jones said many of the problems Adopt-A-Stream uncovers take a lot less work than building a bridge. Just a few weeks ago, she said, Adopt-A-Stream and the Snohomish County Conservation District teamed up with some elementary students to plant 500 trees and shrubs next to a stretch of Swamp Creek.
"The roots will prevent future soil erosion along that fragile salmon stream," Jones said.
On April 12, volunteers from Adopt-A-Stream and a local homeowners association loaned a hand to a creek that runs through the Waterford at the Lake home development.
The complex sits near 26th Avenue NE and 140 Street NE in the area of Nina Lake.
Waterford homeowner Rick Kirkendall said the development consists of 14 acres and 36 homes. Kirkendall described himself as a longtime, if former, member of the Waterford Homeowners Association.
"We live on a lake," he said. "We're people that love the water, we're people that like to fish."
Besides the lake near the Waterford property, Kirkendall talked a lot about the creek on the Waterford property, a creek Hardy named the west fork of Quilceda Creek. According to Kirkendall, in the past, the waterway was not exactly treated with much respect.
"Somebody had been using that stream as a dumping ground," he said.
Neighbors got together, Kirkendall added, and removed as much trash as they could, everything from tires and a gas can to a washer and dryer.
"We started cleaning that up a long time ago," Kirkendall added. "We've got a lot of salmon in that creek."
He said before the clean-up started, the fish weren't as visible as they are now.
Jones said it was Kirkendall who contacted Adopt-A-Stream, thinking the group might be able to do a little more to help the stream than the homeowners alone. Adopt-A-Stream sent representatives to have an initial look around last year. After obtaining some funding, they returned with about 150 plants that took up residence around the sides of the stream. Jones said the plantings, which consisted largely of trees and shrubs, will serve several purposes.
First, she said, the greenery will provide a habitat for insects which will in turn become food for fish in the stream. The plantings also will absorb some pollutants from the water and, as a benefit for homeowners, slow down any flooding that might occur along the waterway.
"It's a win-win situation for us," Kirkendall said. "There's no downside."
"It was a great day to work out there," Hardy said, noting the volunteers had warm temperatures and clear skies. "We got all the plants in the ground and everybody was happy."
Hardy added the homeowner's group was so enthusiastic, Adopt-A-Stream is going to try and supply them with more plants to put in alongside the creek.
Adopt-A-Stream plans several public meetings on their programs and offerings. A session in Marysville is planned for 7 p.m., April 23, at the Marysville Fire District Training Room, 1635 Grove St. For more information, call 425-316-8592.