The first ten years of the WRIA 8 Plan – Expectations and implementation
Implementation Progress Report 2006-2015

The ambitious Rainbow Bend project (pdf), completed in 2013, took place in stages over 10 years, involved a diverse set of funding sources, and provided both flood risk reduction and salmon habitat restoration along the Cedar River (see video). Large-scale restoration projects are often only possible following land acquisition, which requires a committed effort and significant resources.

Salmon carcass in Cedar River

Chinook salmon swimming

Pie Chart: Start List Implementation Progress

The Lake Washington/Cedar/Sammamish Watershed Chinook Salmon Conservation Plan (WRIA 8 Plan) offers a comprehensive set of recommendations for protecting and restoring salmon habitat throughout the watershed. It is an ambitious document, developed by watershed partners after Chinook salmon were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1999. After being adopted by 27 local governments in 2005, the plan was approved by NOAA Fisheries in January 2007 as a local chapter of the Puget Sound Salmon Recovery Plan. The WRIA 8 Plan's recommendations focus on habitat protection and restoration, land use and planning, and outreach and education.

Habitat protection and restoration

The WRIA 8 Plan was created with input from numerous stakeholders and provides a science-based roadmap for protecting and restoring spawning, rearing, and migratory habitat for Chinook salmon. Local governments, tribes, and other partners had already been leading habitat protection and restoration efforts for many years; adopting the WRIA 8 Plan in 2005 established shared priorities for preventing further decline of Chinook habitat and restoring degraded habitat across the watershed.

The full list of restoration and protection projects in the WRIA 8 Plan is referred to as the Comprehensive List, comprising nearly 600 actions throughout the watershed considered necessary to achieve recovery in the long term. Projects include physical restoration (targeting instream, riparian, and floodplain processes), as well as property acquisition to protect functioning habitat and enable future restoration. In many cases, especially along the Cedar River and larger stream systems, acquisition can help meet other objectives—including flood risk reduction and enhancing resilience to climate change.

To protect and restore the habitat necessary for salmon recovery in WRIA 8, the Plan set an ambitious funding goal of securing over $17 million annually from federal, state, and local sources. This goal assumed 2005 spending levels from these sources would not only continue, but would increase to bolster our ability to implement recovery actions.

Project implementation has focused on the Start List, a subset of actions from the Comprehensive List intended to provide focus for the first 10 years of project work.

Map of WRIA 8 salmon recovery project status

Ten years of project implementation (2006 – 2015)

The Start List is a living list and is regularly updated to reflect changes in project status and add projects that are ready to advance. Currently the list contains 200 projects. Of these, 48—or 24%—are complete, 33% are either underway or partly complete, and 19% are proposed for implementation (see pie chart above).

The City of Issaquah and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife worked together to remove a deteriorating diversion dam (pdf) from Issaquah Creek in 2013. Built in the 1930's to supply water to the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery, the dam blocked salmon access to eleven miles of high quality habitat. The project replaced the dam with a series of rock weirs, and included streamside plantings, placement of woody debris, and construction of a new fish-friendly water intake for the hatchery.

Issaquah Creek rock weirs at the salmon hatchery

Tracking implementation of projects from the Start List does not tell the full story of WRIA 8 Plan implementation, however. Watershed partners have also completed an additional 40 actions from the Comprehensive List, bringing the total number of projects implemented from the WRIA 8 Plan to 88 (69 restoration projects and 19 acquisition projects). Another 25 projects on the Comprehensive List are actively moving toward implementation. Combined with the active projects from the Start List, 17% of nearly 600 Comprehensive List projects are actively moving toward implementation.

In general, implementation of Chinook recovery projects in WRIA 8 has proceeded more slowly than envisioned when the WRIA 8 Plan was adopted, largely due to inadequate funding, reduced capacity among partners to develop and prepare projects for implementation, and the complexities of implementing habitat protection and restoration projects—especially in an urbanized watershed. Nevertheless, WRIA 8 partners continue to make progress toward the watershed's habitat restoration and protection objectives, improving conditions for Chinook and other salmon species.

In the early years of plan implementation, WRIA 8 partners focused on acquiring land to protect existing high quality habitat. Ten years later, property acquisition is still a priority, but is now focused on acquiring streamside parcels to facilitate restoration projects that reconnect rivers and streams to the floodplain. Floodplain reconnection provides important off-channel habitat for juvenile Chinook salmon looking for food and places to rest, and is one of the most important salmon recovery actions identified in the WRIA 8 Plan. Acquisitions have enabled significant progress on large-scale restoration activities in recent years that will offer enhanced rearing opportunities for young salmon within the watershed.

Some key efforts to remove barriers to fish passage have significantly improved access to habitat throughout the watershed:

Additional Online Content

Completed Habitat Projects Through 2015

Cedar Population Project Sponsor
Cedar River:
Lower Cedar River Restoration Assessment City of Renton
Protect Riparian Vegetation in Reach 5 King County
Riverbend Mobile Home Park Acquisition King County
Cedar Rapids Floodplain Acquisition (Ricardi Reach) King County
Cedar Rapids Floodplain Restoration (Ricardi Reach) King County
Cedar River Trail and SR 169 Riparian Protection King County
Rainbow Bend - Acquisition King County
Rainbow Bend - Levee Removal and Floodplain Restoration King County/City of Seattle
Lions Club Side Channel Restoration King County
Lower Taylor Creek Floodplain Restoration King County
218th Place Side Channel Protection King County
LWD Over Landsburg Dam City of Seattle
Reach 19 - Reforestation on Right Bank City of Seattle
Reach 20 Road Decommissioning and Improvement City of Seattle
Reach 21 Road Decommissioning and Improvement City of Seattle
Reach 22 Road Decommissioning City of Seattle
Reach 25 Road Decommissioning and Improvement City of Seattle
Reach 26 Road Decommissioning and Improvement City of Seattle
Reach 27 Road Decommissioning City of Seattle
Restore Walsh Ditch Flows into Rock Creek City of Seattle
Road 41 Bridge Project City of Seattle
Upper Cedar LWD Survey and Addition City of Seattle
Migratory Area – South Lake Washington Shoreline:
South Lake Washington Shoreline Restoration Washington Department of Natural Resources
Mouth of Mapes Creek Restoration City of Seattle
Chinook Beach (Rainier Beach Lake Park) City of Seattle
Martha Washington Park Shoreline Restoration City of Seattle
Seward Park Riparian (Shoreline) Habitat Restoration City of Seattle
Lake Washington Shoreline Restoration: Madrona Park Friends of Madrona Creek
Lake Washington Shoreline Restoration: Beaux Arts Western Academy of Beaux Arts
Juanita Bay Beach Creek Mouth Restoration City of Kirkland
Sammamish Population Project Sponsor
North Lake Washington Tributaries:
Lower Bear Creek Restoration City of Redmond
Bear Creek Reach 1 - Stormwater runoff treatment WSDOT
Protect Keller Farm - Bear Creek Reaches 4 & 5 City of Redmond
Cottage Lake Creek Forest Cover Protection Snohomish County
Bear Creek Reach 16 - Protect Paradise Valley Snohomish County
Hooven Bog Acquisition Snohomish County
North Creek Reach 1 - Add Conifers to Cascadia Project University of Washington
North Creek Reach 2 - Protect Boy Scouts Property City of Bothell
North Creek School (Clearwater School) Restoration Snohomish County
North Creek Reach 8 - Restoration within City-Owned Reach of North Creek City of Mill Creek
Penny Creek Fish Passage City of Mill Creek
Expand Twin Creeks Project Snohomish County
Little Bear Creek Reach 2 Fish Passage at 132 Ave NE City of Woodinville
Little Bear Creek Headwater Forest Snohomish County
Evans Creek Reach 1 - Increase Buffer WSDOT
Evans Creek Reach 2 - Evans Creek Relocation Study City of Redmond
Lower Kelsey Reach 1 - Fish Passage I-405 City of Bellevue
Lower Kelsey Reach 1 - Fish Passage Culvert Modifications City of Bellevue
Kelsey Creek Reach 2 - LWD addition City of Bellevue
Kelsey Creek Reach 2 - Wetland Restoration City of Bellevue
Kelsey Creek Reach 2 - Man-made Secondary Channel/Channel Improvements City of Bellevue
Kelsey Creek Reach 2 - Riparian Wetland Creation/Floodplain Reconnection City of Bellevue
Kelsey Creek Reach 3 - Fish Passage Concrete Weirs City of Bellevue
Richards Creek - Fish Passage SE 26th St on East Creek City of Bellevue
Richards Creek - Fish Passage SE 30th St City of Bellevue
Valley Creek - LWD addition City of Bellevue
Valley Creek (Sears Creek) - LWD addition City of Bellevue
West Tributary - LWD addition City of Bellevue
West Tributary - Restore Original Stream Channel City of Bellevue
West Tributary - Riparian Restoration City of Bellevue
Issaquah Creek:
Sammamish State Park Restoration Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust
Sammamish State Park Recreation Management Washington State Parks
Acquisition Downstream of Juniper Street City of Issaquah
Juniper Acres Acquisition City of Issaquah
Restoration Upstream of Juniper Street City of Issaquah
Anderson Property Acquisition City of Issaquah
Confluence Park Restoration City of Issaquah
Issaquah Creek Integrated Fish Passage WDFW/City of Issaquah
Guano Acres Acquisition City of Issaquah
South Issaquah Creek Greenway Restoration City of Issaquah
Squak Valley Park Restoration City of Issaquah
Issaquah Creek Protection (Log Cabin Reach) King County
Easement at Confluence of Carey, Holder, and Issaquah Creeks King County
Fish Passage Improvements on Issaquah Creek at 298th Street King County
Taylor Mountain Forest Acquisition  
Fish Passage Improvements on Holder Creek at Highway 18  
Migratory Area – Lake Sammamish and Sammamish River:
Protect Inglewood Hill Shoreline along Lake Sammamish City of Sammamish/King County
Protect Shoreline Connectivity along Lake Sammamish City of Sammamish
Zacusse Creek Restoration City of Sammamish
Lower Lewis Creek Restoration City of Issaquah
Enhance and Reconnect Riparian Wetlands at Wildcliff Shores City of Kenmore
Sammamish River Reach 4B - Enhance Tributary 0101 Confluence City of Redmond
Both Populations – Common Migratory Areas and Marine Nearshore Project Sponsor
7th Avenue Street End Park Creation City of Seattle
Salmon Bay Natural Area City of Seattle
Big Gulch High-Flow Bypass and Restoration City of Mukilteo
Willow Creek Pier Removal City of Edmonds