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Freighter at the Port of Tacoma in Commencement Bay
Freighter at the Port of Tacoma in Commencement Bay

$1.1 Million Allocated to Salmon Habitat Restoration in Clear Creek, Commencement Bay, Washington

June 23, 2022

The Commencement Bay Trustee Council released a final restoration plan (PDF 35 Pages) to allocate $1.1 million to implement two habitat restoration projects on Clear Creek, in Pierce County, Washington. The projects would restore fish passage and improve wetland habitat for salmon, steelhead, birds, and other fish and wildlife in the area. These resources have been impacted by a history of contamination in the Commencement Bay area. 

The Clear Creek Restoration Projects consist of an ecosystem-based approach to restoration: each of the various projects function together to improve the natural environment and processes in ways that benefit injured fish and wildlife, and their habitats. 

The projects are located at the mouth of Clear Creek, where it flows to the Puyallup River three miles upstream from Commencement Bay. The plan allocates $1.1 million towards a floodgate replacement project and a road decommissioning project to allow salmon and other species to reach previously inaccessible wetland and upstream habitats. In these important habitats, salmon are able to find shelter and feed on insects, and juveniles can grow stronger before migrating to the ocean. 

The projects will also allow for more effective flood management. They will improve the interchange between water in wetlands near the mouth of Clear Creek and water flowing through the new floodgate at the Puyallup River, as well as increase water storage capacity. The projects will be implemented by Pierce County—with the road decommissioning expected to begin in summer 2022, and the floodgate replacement beginning next year.

A History of Pollution in Commencement Bay

Beginning in the early twentieth century, industrial activities in Commencement Bay and its waterways resulted in the release of hazardous substances and discharges of oil to the environment. These releases and discharges have impacted natural resources, including fish, birds, other wildlife, and their habitats. 

The Commencement Bay Trustee Council has been working to settle with polluters and restore natural resources in Commencement Bay and its waterways since 1991. So far, the Trustee Council has recovered over $70 million in settlements to fund an ecosystem-based approach to restoration. The Trustee Council consists of members representing NOAA, the Department of Interior, the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, the Puyallup Tribe, and the State of Washington.