Quilceda Watershed residents, volunteers invited to reflect on restoration

MARYSVILLE — Anyone interested in the salmon and water quality of Quilceda Creek is invited to attend a March 25 Quilceda Watershed Forum at the Marysville School District Service Center.

The Board Room will host the event, which is set to start at 7 p.m. and allow both Quilceda Creek watershed residents and members of the Adopt-A-Stream Foundation to reflect on recent stream restoration efforts.

"Quilceda Creek used to be one of the most productive silver salmon streams in the Snohomish River system," AASF Director Tom Murdoch said. "Unfortunately, the salmon run has declined dramatically."

The stream drains a roughly 30-square-mile area that flows from Arlington, through Marysville, onto the Tulalip Reservation into the Snohomish River. Much of the watershed's wetlands have been filled, and commercial and residential development has been creeping ever closer to the stream.

According to Snohomish County's "State of the Waters" report, published by Surface Water Management, Quilceda Creek's water quality suffers from high levels of fecal coliform bacteria, and bottom sediments show detectable levels of arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, manganese and zinc.

"Quilceda Creek is not suitable for contact recreation," Murdoch says. "If you get your hands in the water, wash them before you pick your teeth, and in all seriousness, do not drink the water. If you do, you can get very sick."

Thanks to support from the Washington State Department of Ecology and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, many watershed residents have teamed up with AASF to tackle some of these problems.

"This has been exciting to be a part of," AASF Ecologist Jennifer Adams said. "During the last year and a half, several hundred watershed residents have spent more than 3,000 hours of their time converting lawns next to Quilceda Creek into native plant landscapes that will be beneficial to fish and wildlife."

Scouting groups, students from Edmonds Community College and volunteers from Snohomish County's Surface Water Management program have joined in the effort.

"Twenty stream-side landowners, with property that stretches over a mile of stream frontage, are becoming part of Quilceda Creek's defense mechanism against water pollution," Adams said. "They have made their backyards into fish and wildlife habitat."

This fall, salmon coming back to Quilceda Creek will be able to use six new complex log structures, installed by AASF crews, to hide from predators on their way to their spawning grounds in the middle and west forks of Quilceda Creek.

Those who attend the Quilceda Watershed Forum, located at 4220 80th St. NE, can learn steps that they can take to ensure that this year's salmon will be successful in spawning new generations.

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