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Snoqualmie Valley

On a faster track to green spaces for all

Aiming to accelerate investments to protect key open spaces before they are lost to development or become too expensive, and to improve access to green spaces for all communities, King County in 2018 launched and approved legislation supporting a new Land Conservation Initiative. The initiative is intent on preserving 65,000 acres of remaining important open space lands within a generation (30 years), and ensuring easy access to green spaces in communities where such investments have been lacking.

High-efficiency LED lighting replacements

DNRP sees the LED energy efficiency light

All divisions are on track to accomplish DNRP’s goal for high efficiency LED lighting replacements throughout our buildings and facilities by the end of 2018. With more than 11,000 lamps replaced with LED’s, collectively the projects are resulting in savings of more than 4 million Kilowatt hours (kWh) per year, reducing carbon emissions by 2,000 metric tons, and taking advantage of over $1 million of utility incentive support. The 4 million kWh saved is the equivalent to the annual power needs of more than 450 homes.

Georgetown wet weather treatment station

Protecting Duwamish River water quality

Construction began in 2018 on a water quality project that will help spur the creation of family-wage jobs, preserve neighborhood character, and keep overflows of stormwater mixed with small amounts of sewage out of the Duwamish River during severe rain storms. The new Georgetown Wet Weather Treatment Station will treat up to 70 million gallons of polluted stormwater runoff that currently flows into the Duwamish during severe rainstorms. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency selected this as one of 12 projects nationwide for low-interest loans that would cover nearly half of the construction cost and potentially save sewer ratepayers up to $34 million. The project also won the coveted “Platinum” rating from the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure Envision rating system.

Trailhead Direct

Making it easier to explore our wild beauty

The first full year of Trailhead Direct, a transit-to-trails service, was a big success, with more than 20,000 trips provided from the expanded network that included a stop in the Mount Baker and Capitol Hill neighborhoods, plus service to Mount Si and Mailbox Peak trailheads, in addition to stops in the Issaquah Alps. Planning for the 2019 season includes a public survey to hear what services and destinations they’d like. The partnership includes King County Parks, King County Metro, City of Seattle, and numerous companies and organizations.

Soundguardian Research vessel

Committing to orca recovery actions

DNRP joined with the Lummi Nation, NOAA, state agencies, and nonprofits to help Scarlet (or J-50), an ailing young southern resident killer whale. These whales face a severe population decline because of habitat degradation, low salmon runs and other factors. DNRP provided the SoundGuardian research vessel and its crew to participate in on-the-water recovery efforts. DNRP helped the Governor’s Southern Resident Killer Whale Task Force by providing technical staff to consult with scientists who helped develop, review and prioritize recovery recommendations. The county also led an armoring removal project along the Vashon-Maury Island shoreline to improve nearshore conditions for salmon and other preferred orca foods.

Solid Waste Management Plan

A blueprint for the future of solid waste handling and recycling

The Solid Waste Division completed a draft Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Plan to help guide how the County manages solid waste and recycling for the next six to 20 years. Plan highlights include how the County can achieve a 70 percent recycling rate, provide solid waste transfer services in northeast King County, and long-term garbage disposal. The plan is now with the King County Council for its review and approval.

Job Fair hiring

Increasing diversity in DNRP hiring

We continue to work closely with employees, communities and partners to do a better job in achieving a vision where all people have equitable opportunities to achieve their full potential in life. In 2018, we increased diversity in our hires and promotions of our highest paid 20 percent recruitments from 10 percent to 35 percent, using best practices and standard work.

Kokanee pair

Taking emergency actions to save kokanee

King County and its partners announced a series of emergency actions to protect Lake Sammamish kokanee – a culturally and biologically significant salmon species that appears to be closer than ever to extinction. Work begun this year included capturing returning spawners for a hatchery program, using cryopreservation for this unique genetic stock, releasing young kokanee later in the year when lake conditions improve, reintroducing kokanee to more creeks, and accelerating removal of fish-blocking culverts.

Regional trails summit meeting

Building a bigger, better regional trail system

Parks hosted a regional trails summit attended by 160 people and featuring 21 speakers on topics ranging from the mobility revolution of e-bikes and dockless bike share, to creating public/private and nonprofit partnerships that grow the network. The summit focused on the values that an interconnected regional trails network for all provides to our communities, and the role it plays in promoting economic, human, and environmental health and vitality. Discussions regarding the formation of an ongoing Regional Trails Coalition will begin in early 2019.

Magnolia pipeline repair

Collaboration leads to remarkable pipeline repair in Magnolia

King County completed repairs to a 3,000-foot pipeline in Seattle’s Magnolia neighborhood with a trenchless construction technique called “pipe bursting” that uses a machine to pull a new pipe through the existing pipe corridor. The project involved a heroic collaboration with neighbors, partners and the contractor to minimize impacts to the residential neighborhood and ensure access to homes despite the scale of the work on a narrow street and a nearby arterial. The pipe will enable King County to store excess stormwater and wastewater from the combined sewer system until it can be treated at the West Point Treatment Plant. Once back in operation, the Magnolia Wet Weather Facility will help protect Puget Sound water quality during heavy rains.

One Million Trees

Halfway to 1 Million Trees

King County and its partners are nearing the halfway point toward a goal of planting a million trees in rural and urban landscapes by the end of 2020 as part of the Executive’s Strategic Climate Action Plan. The partners expect to easily surpass 500,000 trees in the ground by the end of this planting season. Trees help address climate change by storing carbon, and contribute to clean air and water, healthy habitat for salmon and other wildlife, and more livable communities.

Solar panels on North Utilities Trails Crew Shop near Redmond

Parks nets King County’s first net-zero energy facility

Using solar power, new LED lights and efficient heat pumps and air conditioners, King County Parks’ North Utilities Trails Crew Shop near Redmond became the County’s first net-zero energy facility and won the County’s inaugural Environmental Performance Award. Net zero became feasible through the installation of 200 solar panels, retrofitting all the lights to high efficiency LEDs, and installing a cutting-edge high-efficiency heat pump system to replace the heaters and air conditioners in the office and shop spaces. The facility successfully achieved 12 months of zero energy operation in November.

Fish passage

Removing barriers to fish migration

Work by the Parks Division to develop the East Lake Sammamish Trail included replacing an undersized culvert along Zackuse Creek that opens up new habitat for at-risk Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon – and it’s a great example of what the recently established fish passage restoration program expects to accomplish. In 2018, Executive Constantine proposed and the County Council approved investing $12.5 million over two years to replace fish-blocking culverts and restore fish passage. Led by WLRD, the restoration work will open up more than 150 miles of healthy habitat for salmon and advances Executive Constantine’s Clean Water, Healthy Habitat agenda.

Special Olympics

Aquatic Center hosts 2018 Special Olympics

The Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center (WKCAC) hosted the swimming competitions that were part of the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games, which took place in the greater Seattle area in July. Athletes from across the nation participated in a number of races over five days at the world-class WKCAC, which has hosted numerous national and international competitions.

Solid Waste transfer station

Cleanup LIFT sets more equitable disposal rates for residents

To ensure equitable access to services for all of its customers, the Solid Waste Division established Cleanup LIFT – a $12 discounted disposal fee for lower income customers who bring their garbage and recycling to a King County facility. An estimated 300,000 customers are expected to be eligible for the discounted rate.

Tolt Pipeline protection project

Safeguarding cities’ drinking water

Channel migration and levee damage on the Snoqualmie River were threatening the drinking water supply for tens of thousands of King County residents. In 2018, the Water and Land Resources Division completed the $10.8 million Tolt Pipeline Protection project, funded by the King County Flood Control District, to ensure the water pipeline that serves Seattle, Bellevue, Redmond, Issaquah and several other cities was protected. The work included rebuilding and improving 1,200 feet of damaged rock armoring — or revetment — along the Snoqualmie River south of Duvall and also enhanced aquatic and riparian habitat and protected and improved drainage on nearby farmland.

Workers on Bear Creek

A healthier Bear Creek Watershed for people, fish, wildlife

The Water and Land Resources Division studied links between stormwater management and salmon recovery, and created a 10-year plan to reduce stormwater pollution and restore and protect stream and wetland habitat in the Bear Creek Watershed, which is home to 10,000 households now and is expected to see its population grow by 20 percent by 2040. The watershed is also home to fish and wildlife habitat that is important for a number of species, including protected chinook salmon. Top recommendations include updating stormwater infrastructure on public land; providing incentives for installing rain gardens, cisterns, and permeable pavement on private land; and restoring habitat along streams and wetlands.

Recycle right

Helping people ‘Recycle Right’ for the environment

Responding to rules China put in place that restrict the types of collected recyclables that can be sent there for processing, the Solid Waste Division and a coalition of cities, solid waste management companies, and others began a Recycle Right campaign to help people be as effective as possible when recycling. A key component of recycling right is making sure recycling is always empty, clean and dry before it goes in the bin.