Innovative Pilot Project Seeks to Grow a Forest More Resilient to Climate Change

An innovative pilot project will replant portions of logged land now owned by Seattle City Light to grow a new forest that could be more resilient to climate change.

Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust and its partners – City Light, Seattle Public Utilities and the Northwest Natural Resource Group — received a $140,000 grant to reforest portions of the Stossel Creek area in the Tolt watershed northeast of Carnation. The grant money is being provided by the Wildlife Conservation Society through its Climate Adaptation Fund, a program supported and established by a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

“Stossel Creek presents a unique opportunity to test innovative, new habitat restoration methods designed to increase resiliency to climate change for Western Washington forests,” said Jon Hoekstra, executive director of the Greenway Trust.

A volunteer from Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust clearing invasive brush.

Trees on the 154-acre site were harvested by a private land company in 2012. Since then, the site has experienced new plant growth, but with few trees. Invasive species have taken hold in some areas. City Light purchased the land in 2015 as part of its Endangered Species Act Early Action Plan to conserve and enhance habitat for steelhead.

Crews and volunteers will reforest the site with native conifer species, such as Douglas Fir and Western redcedar. Instead of using only subvarieties that are native to Washington, this project also will include trees sourced from southwestern Oregon that are better adapted to warmer temperatures and drier summers.

“The climate of the Stossel Creek area is projected to be similar to southwest Oregon’s by the end of the 21st century,” explains Crystal Raymond, a climate adaptation specialist who helped secure the grant while she worked for City Light. “Therefore, the trees adapted to southwestern Oregon are expected to be better suited to the Stossel Creek site as the climate warms. By increasing the tree genetic and species diversity, the site’s resiliency to climate change will increase over time.”

Work to control invasive plant species and site preparation at Stossel Creek will begin this spring and planting new trees will begin in the fall. After planting, the team will have several opportunities to monitor success and share lessons learned from the project.

This pilot project will inform future climate-adapted restoration practices for lands owned by City Light, Seattle Public Utilities and other owners in the region. The long-term goal of the reforestation effort is to establish a diverse forest that will be adapted to the climate of the mid to late 21st century.

Recently, KING 5 visited the site to cover the project. Click here to watch the story featuring City Light’s Denise Krownbell.

Dogs and salmon don’t mix

Spawning salmon are a Northwest treasure but pose a real risk to dogs

Spawning salmon have returned to creeks in the Pacific Northwest, and one of the best viewing locations in Seattle is Piper’s Creek in Carkeek Park. Through the end of the year, this creek, and many others in Seattle, will host hundreds of salmon returning home. The Seattle Animal Shelter and Seattle Parks and Recreation remind dog owners to keep their dogs leashed and out of the creeks – for the safety of both the salmon and the dogs.

Spawning salmon and dogs pose unique hazards to each other in the Pacific Northwest, so it is best to leave Fido home during a visit to view the salmon. If dogs ingest raw salmon, they can become victims of salmon poisoning disease.

“Dogs can get salmon poisoning from eating raw salmon, trout, steelhead or salamanders that are infected with an internal parasite,” said Dr. Jennifer Bennett. “Dogs often get sick a week or more after ingestion. Without treatment, the disease is fatal in 90 percent of dogs.”

Dogs in creeks also pose hazards for the salmon. The trip up the creek is biologically stressful on the fish, and all energy is needed to simply swim. Dogs in creeks and waterways can negatively affect the fish, leading the salmon to not reach their spawning ground.

The Seattle Animal Shelter and Seattle Parks and Recreation are asking for your help to save the Pacific Northwest’s salmon and to protect your dogs. Always keep your dog on leash when not in an off-leash area, and avoid salmon spawning grounds if you have your dog along.

To protect the salmon and dogs, officers will be doing emphasis patrols in parks with spawning salmon. Off-leash fines can range from $54 to $162. To report off-leash dogs, please submit a service request at http://bit.ly/sas-service-request. You can also contact the shelter or get more information by calling 206-386-PETS (7387) or visiting http://www.seattleanimalshelter.org.

For those wishing to view salmon in Piper’s Creek, the address is 950 NW Carkeek Road. Salmon Stewards will be at the park every Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. until Dec. 3 to help visitors spot returning salmon and answer questions. Salmon Stewards is a community volunteer program funded and collaboratively run by Seattle Parks and Recreation and Seattle Public Utilities. To learn more about the program, visit https://www.facebook.com/CarkeekParkSalmonStewards/ or http://www.carkeekwatershed.org/salmon-programs/.

The Seattle Animal Shelter (SAS) protects public safety and enforces all animal-related ordinances for the city of Seattle. SAS also cares for abandoned, abused and orphaned animals of Seattle. Located at 2061 15th Ave. W., SAS is open from noon-6 p.m., Tuesday-Sunday, for adoptions and licensing. http://www.seattleanimalshelter.org.

Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) is committed to healthy people, healthy environments and strong communities. SPR works to promote good stewardship of the land and manages a 6,414-acre park system of over 485 parks and extensive natural areas. http://www.seattle.gov/parks

Conserving Stossel Creek

Steelhead – photo by Oregon State University

Seattle City Light recently acquired 154 acres of land on Stossel Creek east of Duvall to preserve important habitat for coho salmon and steelhead.

The utility owns more than 13,000 acres of conservation lands to protect habitat for fish and wildlife. It’s part of our commitment to environmental stewardship in the areas where we generate clean hydropower to meet our customers’ electricity needs in a responsible manner. That’s one more reason we are the nation’s greenest utility.

Here’s what Mountains to Sound Greenway wrote about the Stossel Creek purchase in their Spring issue of the Connections newsletter:

Seattle City Light acquired 154 acres on Stossel Creek, an important coho and steelhead tributary to the Tolt River, for the purpose of habitat restoration. The property is located just east of Duvall and adjacent to the Marckworth State Forest, managed by Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The acquisition is a key component of a regional conservation strategy, led by DNR, King County, and the Tolt Fish Habitat Restoration Group, to undertake restoration in the basin, including reconnecting wetland complexes to the creek and removing and reducing sediment input to Stossel Creek and the Tolt River. Seattle City Light is the 10th largest public electric utility in the United States and has been greenhouse gas neutral since 2005, the first electric utility in the nation to achieve that distinction.

Seattle City Light Acquires More Land to Protect Salmon Habitat

Seattle City Light bought two parcels of land northeast of Darrington to preserve salmon habitat. The two 15 acre properties bring the total acreage protected by the utility for fish and wildlife to 13,647 acres.

The newly acquired site on the Suiattle River

With approximately 430 feet of low bank frontage on the Suiattle River, the location is an excellent provider of spawning areas for adult salmon. The forage and edge habitat along the river also allows juvenile fish a safe place to search for food and hide from predators.
The properties were purchased with grant funds totaling just over $73,000 from the State of Washington Salmon Recovery Funding Board.

If you’d like to contribute to the conservation of lands like these, consider volunteering for a planting party this fall. City Light is partnering again with Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group to provide planting events at various locations; two of which will be on Seattle City Light Endangered Species Act Lands (Dalles Bridge site on Nov. 14 and Iron Mountain Ranch on Nov. 21). Volunteers at the events, which run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., will help restore native riparian plants in the Skagit and Samish watersheds.

The plants will provide shade and coverage for salmon, as well as, leaf litter, which attract insects for salmon to eat. For more information on the planting parties visit the Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group website. Volunteers should RSVP by emailing education@skagitfisheries.org or call 360-336-0172 ext. 304.

 

Salmon habitat preserved by City Light

City Light recently purchased 40 acres of Day Creek Slough in the Middle Skagit River.

The property is one of the most productive habitats of juvenile salmonid in the area, and will provide refuge and a safe place for rearing for salmon and steelhead. The purchase has been added to the 274 acres of land bought through the Fisheries Settlement Agreement mitigation funds as well as over 3,288 acres of habitat conservation lands City Light currently owns.

The property was acquired with City Light funds under the Skagit River Hydroelectric Project Revised Fisheries Settlement Agreement, and also with funds under the city’s Endangered Species Early Action Program.