December 2019 Newsletter
Snoqualmie Watershed Forum

Celebrating Restoration Project Milestones

Project partners completed major milestones for restoration projects in the Snoqualmie/Skykomish watersheds in 2019. Stay tuned for more news on future phases of these projects in 2020!

Lower Cherry Creek Phase 1

BEFORE: This drone footage shows the armored and highly constrained condition of the Cherry Creek project site before restoration work began. Contrast this with the 'after' photo below!

AFTER: The restored mouth of Cherry Creek and a new floodplain island, completed in fall 2019. Site planting is currently underway.

Sound Salmon Solutions and Wild Fish Conservancy implemented the Lower Cherry Creek Restoration Project at the confluence of Cherry Creek and the Snoqualmie River. The project included removal of 700 feet of bank armoring, installation of large woody debris, and construction of a floodplain island. Riparian planting is underway. Funding for the project was provided by the King County Cooperative Watershed Management grant program and the Salmon Recovery Funding Board. Phase II of the project will extend habitat restoration upstream to further benefit Puget Sound Chinook and other Snoqualmie salmon and steelhead.

Tolt San Souci Floodplain Restoration Project

LEFT: An example of a deconsolidated roadway, ready for native vegetation plantings.
RIGHT: Former location of a culvert, removed to provide fish passage into floodplain channels.

King County's Tolt-San Souci Floodplain Restoration Project reconnects the Tolt River with 33 acres of floodplain and 5,400 feet of historic side channel. Like similar floodplain reconnection projects, Tolt-San Souci aims to reduce flood risk to communities while enhancing natural processes such as floodplain storage of water and sediment, stream shading, and recruitment of large wood into the stream to provide fish habitat. A 300-foot-long unpermitted revetment at the upstream end of the former San Souci neighborhood was removed last summer. Next, compacted soil on gravel roads and driveways was deconsolidated, which allows plantings of native vegetation to thrive in no-longer-compacted soil. Two culvert structures were removed to improve fish passage into side channels. Several existing ponds were re-graded to connect them with the Tolt River, reducing the potential for fish stranding at low water, and providing a velocity refuge for fish at high water. Finally, a roadside berm was removed, allowing water to move across the floodplain. Berm removal also provided soil to help establish native vegetation plantings on-site.

Welcome New Forum Staff and TWO New Snoqualmie Basin Stewards!

We've got some new faces working in the Snoqualmie and South Fork Skykomish! From left to right: Andrea Mojzak, Emily Davis, Denise Di Santo, and Cory Zyla.

The Snoqualmie Watershed Forum recently hired two new staff to support its work program while the previous staff, Perry Falcone and Beth leDoux, are out on special duty assignments.

Cory Zyla joined the Snoqualmie Watershed Forum team in September 2019 as the temporary Project Coordinator (2-year term). Cory will coordinate a range of Forum activities, execute the King County Flood Control District's Cooperative Watershed Management Grant process (CWM), and provide support to project partners in the Snoqualmie and South Fork Skykomish watersheds. Please reach out to Cory if you have questions about the 2020 CWM grant round, current activities being undertaken by the Forum, or to request project support such as grant writing assistance.

Emily Davis joined the Snoqualmie Watershed Forum in November 2019 as the temporary Technical Coordinator (1-year term). Emily will help co-chair the Snohomish Basin Technical Committee, provide technical support to project partners in the Snoqualmie and South Fork Skykomish watersheds, coordinate partners around technical issues, and provide support for updating the 2005 Snohomish Basin Salmon Conservation Plan . Please reach out to Emily if you have questions about any of the above!

Meanwhile, King County welcomes not one, but two new Basin Stewards for King County-led projects in the Snoqualmie. Having two stewards instead of just one is a change for the Snoqualmie watershed, and allows each Steward to focus on a distinct geographical area while bolstering resources for watershed-wide stewardship support. Andrea Mojzak is focusing on the Lower Snoqualmie and associated tributaries below Snoqualmie Falls, and Denise Di Santo is stewarding the Upper Snoqualmie, which includes the North, Middle and South Forks of the Snoqualmie River and the South Fork Skykomish River.

Feel free to reach out to Andrea and Denise if you have questions about past or present King County-led floodplain capital improvement projects, property acquisitions, or private property habitat and watershed restoration opportunities in their respective stewardship areas.

All four new employees are already getting familiar with the geography, projects and opportunities in the Snoqualmie, and are looking forward to meeting key players throughout the watershed.

Fish, Farm, Flood Regulatory Task Force Update

In 2017 the Fish, Farm, Flood (FFF) Advisory Committee agreed to a set of more than 30 recommendations that, if implemented, would significantly improve ecological function and habitat quality, while at the same time strengthening the agricultural economy and reducing flood risk. The immediate priorities were to improve agricultural drainage and accelerate large capital projects for salmon recovery. The FFF 1.0 Advisory Committee established the Regulatory Task Force to examine current regulations and identify opportunities for increasing regulatory clarity, educational outreach, and potential code revisions with the objectives of:

  1. making drainage projects cheaper and easier;
  2. making farms safer during floods;
  3. minimizing the impact of mitigation actions on farmable land; and
  4. maintaining consistent levels of environmental protections.

The Task Force reviewed the federal, state and local codes that regulate drainage work including the Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, Growth Management Act, Shorelines Management Act, the Hydraulic Code and State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA). Through this process, the Regulatory Task Force is:

  1. providing clear interpretations of regulations to help landowners understand permitting needs and requirements;
  2. identifying regulatory barriers that create obstacles to farming; and
  3. developing better strategies and approaches to enable farming in the floodplain.

The Regulatory Task Force will present their findings and recommendations to the Implementation Oversight Committee (IOC) in June of 2020. The IOC will review, finalize and transmit the recommendations to the County Executive. To find out more please visit the King County Fish, Farm, Flood website.

Volunteer Opportunities with Snoqualmie Tribe

Volunteers get their hands dirty planting native vegetation on the Barfuse restoration site in Fall City.

The Snoqualmie Tribe is partnering with Fall City Farms, King County, Oxbow Farms and community volunteers to restore riparian habitat at two sites along the Snoqualmie River in Fall City. Healthier riparian forest buffers at these sites will complement larger floodplain reconnection projects planned for the next two years. In November 2019, the Tribe hosted volunteer planting events at the Fall City Farms and Barfuse restoration sites. 85 volunteers turned out to help plant 2,300 native trees and shrubs to help improve critical salmon habitat that is also within a traditionally significant area for the Tribe. Riparian trees are critical for water temperature regulation, act like a safety valve in the watershed by slowing water flows and reducing the size of a flood, and ultimately provide woody debris that creates pools and rearing habitat for salmon downstream. Funders for those two projects included the King County Flood Control District, King County 1 Million Trees, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Want to get involved? Coming this winter, the Snoqualmie Tribe is hosting four more volunteer riparian planting events. Save the dates for January 25 at Tolt-MacDonald Park, February 8 at Fall City Farms, February 22 at Barfuse, and March 7 at Sammamish River. All events take place on Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. To RSVP or for more information, please contact Alex Harwell or call 425-229-2120.

North Bend Arbor Day Celebration: Planting Trees for Watershed Health

A volunteer enjoys the autumn sun while preparing to plant a native conifer as part of the Arbor Day event.

Speaking of riparian plantings, on November 1, the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, together with the City of North Bend and the Meadowbrook Farm Preservation Association, hosted 30 volunteers to plant 230 native evergreen trees at Meadowbrook Farm for North Bend's Arbor Day. The event was part of a larger site rehabilitation project coordinated by the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust and funded by a Cooperative Watershed Management Grant from the King County Flood Control District and a Million Trees grant from King County. Goals for the project include invasive species removal and installation of 3,000 trees to help improve water quality and overall watershed health in the upper part of the Snoqualmie Basin.

Save the Date for World Premiere of Spawning Grounds Documentary Film

In the spirit of cross-watershed collaboration, we're excited to announce that Trout Unlimited is hosting the World Premiere of documentary film Spawning Grounds, which tells the story of the community-based partnership to recover native Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon. The event will be held Saturday, January 18th, 2020 at the North Bend Theater. The premiere event starts at 6pm and the film will show at 7:30pm. There will be raffles, a silent auction, and a panel discussion after the film. Event proceeds will go to Trout Unlimited to continue kokanee recovery efforts.

If you are unable to make the premiere in North Bend, then mark your calendar for the Seattle Premiere, which will take place on Saturday, February 8th, 2020 at 5pm (doors open at 4 pm) at University of Washington Intellectual House, 4249 Whitman Court in Seattle. For ticket information to both screenings, visit the website.

2019 State of the Sound Report Now Available

Puget Sound Partnership (PSP) publishes a biennial State of the Sound report, intended to help PSP partners and decision makers better understand (1) how well the Puget Sound recovery effort is going, (2) ecosystem health and progress toward Puget Sound recovery goals, and (3) the role each partner can play in achieving Puget Sound recovery. The 2019 State of the Sound Report was recently completed and published by PSP.

You can access the State of the Sound in either of two versions:

State of the Sound Website
The online version presents a Call to Action for recovery partners, an overview of ecosystem conditions, the status of the recovery effort, three stories of successful Puget Sound recovery projects, and messages from the Partnership's Executive Director, Leadership Council and Science Panel.

State of the Sound Report (PDF version)
Required by state law, the State of the Sound Report includes most of the content included in the website and additional information on the status of the Puget Sound recovery effort, including detailed information on funding, Near Term Actions, ongoing programs, legislative and policy developments and a summary of citizen concerns.

Snohomish River Basin Salmon Conservation Plan ("Salmon Plan") Update

The Snohomish Basin was one of three watersheds selected by Puget Sound Partnership to receive funding and coaching support for updating the 2005 Salmon Plan. The Snohomish County Lead Entity will receive technical and coaching assistance from Susan O'Neil on a contract with Puget Sound Partnership, and $40,000 for scientific/technical work to support the Salmon Plan update. The Snoqualmie Watershed Forum's staff team will be very involved in the update, which will use reports, plans, and studies from the last 15 years to set new habitat improvement targets and strategies.

Funding Opportunities

Coastal Protection Fund — Terry Husseman Account (THA) Grants
The Terry Husseman Account (THA) grant program supports locally sponsored projects that restore or enhance the natural environment. Typical projects address water quality issues and fish and wildlife habitat protection or enhancement in or adjacent to waters of the state, such as streams, lakes, wetlands, or the ocean. Grant awards are up to a maximum of $50,000. Applications are due February 4, 2020.

Department of Ecology — Floodplains by Design
Floodplains by Design (FbD) is Ecology's primary grant program for projects that help communities live better in their floodplain. This competitive FbD grant program is a modern public-private partnership co-led by Ecology and The Nature Conservancy, focused on re-establishing floodplain functions in Washington's major river corridors. Pre-Applications for new Floodplains by Design grants are being accepted from Nov 4, 2019 through Jan 31, 2020. Sponsors considering applying for FbD should contact the Snohomish Basin Lead Entity through Gretchen Glaub and Morgan Ruff.

Department of Ecology — Streamflow restoration competitive grants
Projects that will protect or increase streamflows are currently being solicited for Ecology's streamflow restoration competitive grant program The application period is Jan. 30—Mar. 31, 2020. Projects involving the purchase of water rights, enhancing streamflows, and some habitat projects are eligible for funding. Up to $22 million for projects will be available through Ecology's competitive grant program during this grant round.

For more information, please see Ecology's 2020 Guidance for Project Applicants. Ecology will also host an applicant workshop webinar on January 14th. More information about the workshop is available on Ecology's website, and Ecology staff are currently scheduling pre-application meetings as requested.

King County Flood Control District - 2020 Cooperative Watershed Management Grant Program
Each year, the King County Flood Control District allocates a portion of its capital budget to fund implementation of Water Resource Inventory Area (WRIA) Forum priority activities via the Cooperative Watershed Management Grant Program (CWM). For 2020, the WRIA 8 Salmon Recovery Council and WRIA 9 Watershed Ecosystem Forum anticipate allocations of approximately $1,803,815 each, the Snoqualmie Watershed Forum (WRIA 7) anticipates approximately $954,819, and the WRIA 10 Citizen Advisory Committee anticipates approximately $247,724 in grant funds for salmon recovery projects and activities. Project Sponsors interested in requesting funds from CWM should submit a Notice of Intent to Apply to Cory Zyla. Additional funds may become available to each WRIA as older grants close out and unused funds are rolled forward.

Snohomish Basin 2020 SRFB/PSAR Request for Proposals
The Snohomish Basin Lead Entity is soliciting projects that implement strategies identified in the Snohomish River Basin Salmon Conservation Plan. The Snohomish Basin expects to allocate approximately $2.3 million dollars in state Salmon Recovery Funding Board (SRFB) and Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration (PSAR) funding. Visit the 2020 Snohomish Basin Grant Round webpage for full details.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Recreation and Conservation Office - Brian Abbott Fish Barrier Removal Board
The Brian Abbott Fish Barrier Removal Board (FBRB) grant program is now accepting proposals to apply for funds for fish passage projects in Washington State. Proposals will be accepted between November 1, 2019 and January 15th, 2020. Projects must correct fish passage barriers that impact salmonids. This is a statewide grant program that focuses on funding projects in priority watersheds across the state and building upon previous and future investments made towards fish passage.

Training Opportunities, Workshops, and Conferences:

Save the Date — 2020 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference
The Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference is the largest, most comprehensive event of its kind in the region, featuring the latest scientific research and management issues relevant to the health of the Salish Sea ecosystem. The conference features plenary sessions, concurrent oral sessions and poster presentations, workshops, field trips and other special events including a film festival in 2020. The Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference happens every two years, alternating between Seattle, Washington, and Vancouver, British Columbia. Registration is open, and early bird rates run through the end of January!

Salmon and Orca in the news:

Salmon lose diversity in managed rivers, reducing resilience to environmental change
The manipulation of rivers in California is jeopardizing the resilience of native Chinook salmon. It compresses their migration timing to the point that they crowd their habitats. They may miss the best window for entering the ocean and growing into adults, new research shows.

Salmon die-off expands, bringing total Chinook fishing closure on Oregon's north coast
A dry fall led to low stream flows, concentrating fish in pools as they waited for rains to swell the rivers and allow them to access upstream spawning areas. The crowded conditions spread a parasite that is killing the fish, leading officials to close the fishery.

Atlantic salmon farms pay $2.75M to settle Puget Sound lawsuit
Wild Fish Conservancy took the owners of Cooke Aquaculture, owners of the Puget Sound salmon farm that collapsed in 2017, to court for alleged violation of the Clean Water Act. Before the case could go to trial, Cooke decided to settle.

Does eating less Chinook salmon help endangered orca whales?
Although fisheries experts say it won't make a difference to the orcas, some grocery chains have stopped carrying Chinook salmon.

Paddling through pumpkin patches in Snoqualmie
October's record flooding in the Snoqualmie Valley left some farms under water, wreaking havoc on crops at harvest time.

Chasing a memory: In California, orcas and salmon have become so scarce people have forgotten what once was. Will the Northwest be next?
Part of the Seattle Times' 'Hostile Waters' series on salmon and orcas, this feature explores the idea that the current state of salmon and orca in California might be a harbinger of things to come in the Northwest, if things continue on their current trend.

Northwest killer whales are shrinking in size -- and so are their prey, Chinook salmon, new research shows
Hungry young orcas grow up to be stunted orcas, new research shows, revealing that salmon run downturns can have lifelong effects.

Northern Resident orcas compete with endangered Southern Residents for largest Chinook
Chinook salmon — the Northwest's largest and most iconic fish species — are shrinking. Researchers have documented that adult kings returning from the North Pacific are on average 10 percent shorter and as much as 30 percent lighter than 40 years ago. Northern Resident orcas are implicated as part of the answer why.

And, as always, remember that the beautiful "From Mt. Si to Wild Sky" watershed posters — featuring the photography of talented Valley residents — are available FREE from Maureen Dahlstrom or by calling 206-477-4777.

The Snoqualmie Watershed Forum works to protect and restore the health of the SF Skykomish and Snoqualmie Watersheds in harmony with the cultural and community needs of the Valley.

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.

Funding for this publication is provided by King County Flood Control District.