FILE – Debris in boat

A boatful of debris pulled from the Wenatchee River.

(The Center Square) – The City of Kirkland has begun steambank restoration along Juanita Creek to improve water quality for the salmon that spawn there.

The Jaunita Creek project is a part of a larger effort to restore the kokanee salmon population of Washington’s lakes. Kirkland received a total of $71,500 from the King County Wastewater Treatment Division’s WaterWorks grant program in 2019 and 2021 to fund projects like the restoration of Juanita Creek. 

“Protecting wildlife in our streams and water systems is of utmost importance to our region,” Kirkland Councilmember Kelli Curtis said in a statement. “Kirkland is proud to steward our streams, creeks and wetlands to contribute to a healthier watershed that benefits both our human and nonhuman residents.”

Kokanee salmon are a non-anadromous form of the sockeye salmon. This means that kokanee salmon live their entire lives in freshwater environments. As opposed to sockeye salmon that migrate to the sea.

The WaterWorks Grant Program awards approximately $2 million every two years to various organizations for projects that improve water quality.

Restoration of Juanita Creek began on May 11 in Windsor Vista Park. The process involves removing invasive plants in the area, installing erosion control materials such as jute fabric and replanting native trees, shrubs and natural ground covers.

Other riverbank restoration sites along Juanita Creek are located at Edith Moulton, Brookhaven and Juanita Beach.

The Washington State Department of Ecology gifted state grant funding of up to $50,000 to 15 locally-sponsored projects across the state. The City of Kirkland Parks and Community Services is receiving $26,785 to restore the riparian buffer along Juanita Creek in Edith Moulton Park.

The Department of Ecology is also distributing $40,377 to the Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group and $50,000 to the Snohomish Conservation District for environmental restoration. 

“We are awarding nearly $640,000 to fund 15 projects that will significantly improve water quality and the natural environment in multiple watersheds around the state,” the Department of Ecology said in a statement. “The grants will pay for a variety of projects such as river cleanup, tree planting, bank restoration, invasive plant removal, and natural stormwater infrastructure.”

The $640,000 is funded through the Department of Ecology’s Terry Husseman account, which is “designed to help local governments, conservation and port districts, tribal governments, fisheries enhancement groups, and other state agencies pay for environmental projects,” according to the Department of Ecology.

The City of Kirkland did not return a request for comment on when the streambank restoration might be completed.

Staff Reporter

Spencer Pauley reports on Seattle and the King County area of Washington. He was previously an independent filmmaker and worked on "The Clinton Affair," a documentary series investigating the impeachment proceedings of former President Bill Clinton.