December 2010 Newsletter
Snoqualmie Watershed Forum

A Look Back at Pineapple Express

Flooding in December, 2010The December 12-13, 2010 "Pineapple Express" brought heavy rainfall, warm temperatures, and flooding to many local rivers, including the Snoqualmie and its tributaries. The King County Flood Warning Center was open for nearly 48 hours, with the Snoqualmie reaching Flood Warning Phase 3 and the Tolt River reaching Phase 4. While some roads were closed and some residents experienced impacts to their homes and agricultural operations, fortunately the basin and its communities avoided significant widespread damages. Comprehensive inspections of County maintained levees and revetments are beginning now that the floodwaters have receded.

Provisionally, all flows were in the range of a 2- to 5-year flood event.  Peak flows included:

Visit the King County Flood Warning website for more info or to sign up for flood alerts.

Now Underway - Fish Passage Barrier Assessment

Culverts restrict fish passageIn 2008, Wild Fish Conservancy (WFC) developed a fish passage barrier database (Barrier Prioritization Mapping System or BPMS) for the Snohomish Basin, including the Snoqualmie Watershed. King County and the Snoqualmie Watershed Forum are now working with WFC to fill some of the highest priority database gaps by identifying barriers for further assessments. Under a contract funded by King County:

Coming Soon – Tolt River Corridor Study

Tolt River corridorKing County is developing a corridor plan for the lower Tolt River.  The plan will focus on the section of the river from River Mile 6 (near the end of Tolt River Road) to the confluence with the Snoqualmie River.  The county will work with a team of consultants to characterize the geomorphic, hydraulic, and salmonid habitat conditions along this reach.  The corridor plan will include development and evaluation of potential floodplain management actions including levee setbacks or removals, property acquisitions, and road and/or bridge alterations.  It will also identify opportunities for high-benefit salmon habitat restoration projects in this important spawning reach.

Using this information, the county will work with stakeholders – including the cities of Carnation and Seattle, resource agencies, and private landowners – to develop an implementation strategy for the Tolt River to optimize flood and erosion hazard reduction and salmon habitat restoration.  Work on the plan is expected to be completed during 2011. For more information contact Sally King.

Oxbow Farm Wetland Creation

Oxbow Farm near Duvall, WAStewardship Partners, with support from King Conservation District (KCD) and Ducks Unlimited, have re-created a wetland at Oxbow Farm, near Duvall.

The area was a remnant oxbow channel of the Snoqualmie River dominated by invasive reed canary grass and not suitable for farming.  After being excavated to reach the shallow water table, the 2 acres were planted with a mix of trees, shrubs, and emergent plants; all chosen because of their ecological importance to a variety of native amphibians. Woody debris and standing snags were installed to provide habitat for birds and other wildlife.  This project will become a functional wetland providing habitat and increased water quality to the area.

WSU Extension Forest Stewardship Class a Big Success!

WSU extension classWith funding support from KCD and the Snoqualmie Watershed Forum, Washington State University Extension, in partnership with the King County Forestry Program, offered their flagship “Forest Stewardship Coached Planning” class this fall at Preston Community Center. This nine-week class provides forest owners with comprehensive training on forest stewardship, including ecology, native plants, silviculture, forest health, wildlife, soils, and more. In the process they are coached to develop their own stewardship plans, so they can manage their forests more effectively and qualify for cost share programs, certification as a sustainable forest, and/or conservation tax incentive programs.  Forest owners from around the watershed participated in this sold-out class.  Data from WSU suggests that over 80% of participants will implement new practices within one year.  Learn more about the Forest Stewardship Coached Planning program.

Opening Off-Channel Habitat on the Raging

Tulalip channel habitat projectThe Tulalip Tribes and the Institute for Community Leadership (ICL) partnered with the aid of KCD Opportunity Grant funds to complete an off-channel habitat project on a major fork of the upper Raging River. The project – located near the northern end of Keriston Road – will help juvenile coho salmon and steelhead overwinter in a highly productive, yet low-energy spring-fed off-channel pond. The Tulalip Tribes provided technical expertise, education, and guidance while overseeing the construction of approximately 250 feet of new channel, log weirs, and a fish passable culvert. ICL provided volunteer staff and youth labor to install over 400 riparian plants. Many juvenile coho were observed migrating into this newly accessible reach within days of construction. For more info contact Derek Marks at Tulalip Tribes.

Building Stewardship from the Ground Up

Stewardship in actionOver the past 14 months, King County and Partnership for Rural King County (PRKC) have partnered with local citizens, non-profits and conservation organizations to deliver the Stewardship in Action (SiA) project in the Snoqualmie Watershed.  This three-year EPA-funded initiative seeks to spread the word about stewardship practices in the Raging and Patterson sub-basins and to link interested landowners to appropriate stewardship tools, technical services, and incentive programs depending on their needs and interests.  For more information see the Stewardship in Action website.  Here are just a few of the accomplishments to date:

WSU Extension Teaches Landowners About Conservation Cost Sharing

In November, WSU Extension, with funding support from KCD, the Snoqualmie Watershed Forum, and Stewardship in Action, hosted a free cost share workshop at the Snoqualmie Library.  The workshop taught forest and farm owners about conservation cost sharing programs, how to qualify, and how to apply.  Speakers included representatives from USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Snoqualmie Watershed Forum, and the King Conservation District. The workshop was very well attended, with the audience reaching the capacity limit for the library’s meeting room. The response to the workshop was overwhelmingly positive. “I just had no idea any of this was out there,” remarked one participant.

Over 80% of participants reported that they intended to apply for at least one cost share program in the next year to fund conservation activities on their property.

If you would like to be added or removed from the Snoqualmie Watershed Forum mailing list, or if you would like to submit an item for inclusion in the next Snoqualmie Watershed Forum e-newsletter, please contact Maureen Dahlstrom.