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Largest Snoqualmie River habitat restoration project begins near Fall City to benefit salmon, improve area flood protection

Summary

After almost a decade of project development, design, and fundraising, construction begins this summer on the Fall City Floodplain Restoration Project that will reconnect 145 acres of historic Snoqualmie River floodplain and reestablish vital habitat to benefit depleted Puget Sound salmon populations.

Story

Construction gets underway this summer on King County’s 145-acre Fall City Floodplain Restoration Project – the largest habitat restoration project ever undertaken on the Snoqualmie River. The project will benefit several fish species, including the endangered Chinook salmon that are preferred by southern resident killer whales, while reducing erosive flood damage to the surrounding community.

Spanning the Snoqualmie River just downstream of Fall City, the two-year project will reconnect the river to its historic floodplain, restoring access to high-quality salmon habitat. Key project elements include removing portions of an old levee and other flood-risk reduction structures that have constrained the river and eliminated access to important habitat where young salmon can escape strong stream flows.  

A healthy floodplain provides a diversity of habitat to support the salmon’s life cycle, including side channels, gravel bars, pools, and healthy streamside vegetation– and this project will deliver nearly a mile of high-quality side channel rearing habitat, plus nearly 145 acres of connected floodplain.     

Matched with those habitat improvements are benefits to the local community, including reducing the potential erosion to nearby farmlands and a road, lowering floodwater levels on hundreds of acres nearby, and realigning the frequently flooded Neal Road Southeast to reduce the threat of road flood damage.

Invasive and noxious weed control across the project site, and extensive replanting with native vegetation, benefit the community and fish and wildlife. Snoqualmie Tribe environmental team members helped accelerate the project by helping replant the site over the past two years.

This is the first salmon recovery project to begin construction under the Snoqualmie Farm, Fish and Flood accord that was developed to strike a balance between farming interests, salmon recovery, and flood risk reduction and helped inform how best to engage the community as the project was being designed.

Constructions crews are anticipated to be onsite this year from mid-June through September to complete the left bank portion of the project and to relocate Neal Road Southeast. Construction will wrap up for the year by October, when salmon return to spawn and the annual flood season begins.

While no road closures or other impacts to area residents are expected this year, people can expect to see an increase in construction traffic.   

The Fall City Floodplain Restoration Project received the top ranking in both the 2020 Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration fund and the Floodplains by Design grant programs to secure the $15 million to construct the project.

In a first for a King County habitat restoration project, working with local partners the Floodplains by Design grant included an additional $250,000 for agricultural drainage improvements in the valley. Additional funding for the restoration project was provided by the King County Surface Water Management fund, King County Flood Control District, and Washington Salmon Recovery Funding Board.

RELEVANT LINKS 
Fall City Floodplain Restoration Project
Snoqualmie Farm, Fish and Flood
 
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: 
Doug Williams, DNRP, 206-477-4543