Pierce County, with funds from the Commencement Bay Trustee Council, 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.
The Commencement Bay Trustee Council is a group of natural resource trustees established to conduct restoration to natural resources damaged by pollution. The Trustees consist of:
The Puyallup Tribe of Indians
Muckleshoot Indian Tribe
Washington Department of Ecology
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
Washington Department of Natural Resources
U.S. Department of the Interior
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Learn more about this project at PierceCountyWa.gov/ClearCreekHabitat and explore the Commencement Bay Trustee Council’s restoration efforts.
Akiko Oda, Pierce County public information specialist
NOAA Fisheries Public Affairs