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Big Spring Creek restoration project

Big Spring Creek restoration project

Big Spring Creek vicinity map
Big Spring Creek vicinity map - click to enlarge

The Big Spring Creek project restored approximately 4,000 feet of stream habitat and nearly 20 acres of wetland habitat to protect endangered salmon. This was accomplished in two phases by relocating the stream out of roadside and agricultural ditches into a more natural, complex channel with pools, cover and shade.  The riparian zone of the new channel was replanted with native trees and shrubs to help reduce pollutants entering the stream, provide shade to reduce stream temperatures, and provide enhanced habitat for aquatic and terrestrial wildlife. Conditions within the adjacent wetland are also enhanced by increasing the vegetative complexity of the wetland and associated buffers.

The project was completed in partnership with the US Army Corps of Engineers through the Green-Duwamish Ecosystem Restoration Project (ERP) consistent with the terms of the Project Partnership Agreement (PPA) signed by both parties in 2012.  By partnering, King County leveraged approximately $3 million in federal funding.

Project location

The project site is located about one mile northwest of the City of Enumclaw in unincorporated King County. The project was completed along Big Spring Creek, a tributary to Newaukum Creek on: a) land owned and managed by King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks (KC); b) private land with conservation easements owned by KC; and c) City of Enumclaw property with a conservation easement held by King County to facilitate this habitat restoration project.

Big Spring Creek project plan, aerial photo
Big Spring Creek plan and aerial photo - click to enlarge (470 Kb pdf)


In the early 1900’s, Big Spring Creek was channelized and placed in roadside and agricultural ditches, severely degrading fish and wildlife habitat. The lack of shade and the direct input of runoff from roads significantly degraded the otherwise cool clear water emerging from natural springs.  Restoring water quality and habitat complexity within Big Spring Creek was identified as a priority project in the: a) Newaukum Creek Basin Characterization Project Report (King County 2007); b) WRIA 9 Salmon Habitat Plan (WRIA 9 2005); and c) the Green/Duwamish River Ecosystem Restoration Study (USACE 2000). The Big Spring project directly supports the WRIA 9 Salmon habitat plan by preserving and restoring spawning and rearing habitat in the Newaukum Creek watershed.

Partnerships and public outreach

Through King County’s collaboration with other local governments, state and federal agencies, interest and community groups, special purpose districts, and the Muckleshoot Tribe, the project has garnered widespread support among watershed stakeholders. The project was a high priority for the Puget Sound Partnership and was strongly endorsed by adjacent landowners and the City of Enumclaw, which owns a portion of the project site.

Project timeline

  • 2008-09 Interagency Agreements Community Outreach
  • 2010-11 Special Studies, Permitting, Early Action Planting
  • 2011-13 Design Completed
  • 2013 Phase 1 Construction
  • 2014 Phase 2 Construction
  • TBD Potential Phase 3 – wetland revegetation
  • 2014 – 2020 Monitoring and Maintenance

Project contacts

Fauna Nopp, Project Manager, Ecological Restoration & Engineering Services Unit (ERES), Rural and Regional Services Section (RRS), KC Water and Land Resources Division (KCWLRD)

Jon Hansen, Project Supervisor, ERES, RRS, KCWLRD

Gordon Thomson, Project Manager, US Army Corps of Engineers, 206-316-3966,


For more information about the Big Spring Creek Restoration Project, please contact Fauna Nopp, Landscape Architect/Project Manager, Water and Land Resources Division Ecological Restoration and Engineering Services Unit.