Friday, February 13, 2009
$75,000 Grant Approved for North Creek Clearwater Reach Restoration Project
In mid-December, we heard from Snohomish County's Stream Enhancement Engineer that the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation granted Snohomish County the entire amount requested--$75,000--to begin stream restoration work on the part of North Creek that flows through The Clearwater School's property. We are excited to partner with Snohomish County and Clearwater Commons to participate in the North Creek Clearwater Reach Restoration Project. This unique project involves our school, an upstream intentional community dedicated to sustainability and a government entity, working together to enhance and protect the natural habitat along a 1400-foot stretch of North Creek--the largest restoration project planned along the Snohomish County portion of North Creek.
Access to North Creek was one of the school’s top reasons for purchasing the site in 2006. Students and staff have a great interest in the creek. Beyond the enjoyment of being near moving water, we have spent hours studying spawning behaviors and lifecycles of salmon. In 2006 we observed the majesty of Sockeye, Coho and Chinook salmon navigating up the creek and spawning along the school and Commons properties. Sadly, over the past two seasons we have seen a dramatic decrease in the numbers of fish returning to spawn.
During the past two years, Clearwater families, Snohomish County Surface Water Management and the Conservation Corps have worked to control invasive plant species, including Japanese knotweed, blackberries, tansy and thistle. This project has the potential to support Steelhead trout and Chinook, Sockeye and Coho salmon species. It will also improve the overall health of North Creek by nurturing greater diversity of animals and native plants.
The grant funds will help to finance restoration efforts, focusing on restoring creek banks eroded during the Winter 2007 storm. Snohomish County designed a plan to restore the creek and adjacent habitat to a healthy ecosystem in the most natural state possible. In December, a crew from Snohomish County came out to survey the part of the creek outlined in the grant. They also took core samples in two different places in the thistle field closer to and farther away from the creek. It turns out that much of the thistle field is fill dirt and the natural flood plain soil is around seven feet below the surface of the field. School Meeting authorized Snohomish County to remove much of the fill and create a more gently sloping bank that will be planted with native shrubs and trees. This will create an inviting and rich area to explore and better creek access on the east side of North Creek. Work is scheduled to begin in 2010.
Clearwater will donate in-kind volunteer hours to this project and involve members of our school and the extended community. We are lucky that our families include skilled educators, naturalists, landscape architects, and engineers, as well as dedicated laborers.
Our aim is to demonstrate that individuals, schools and government entities can work together to make a needed difference for our environment. We hope our involvement in this effort will inspire future projects in other locations.