Road Removal Project Reconnects Wetlands and Benefits Salmon
November 3, 2022
By removing a portion of roadway in Washington State, a recently completed project opens up a wetland area for migratory fish species, including threatened Puget Sound Chinook salmon.
The road decommissioning project removed sections of a pre-existing access road that separated Clear Creek from an adjacent 9.5-acre wetland. Salmon can now use the wetlands for feeding and resting, as well as for rearing, as they migrate from the Puyallup River to the ocean.
The improved connection also increases the wetland's ability to store water, which reduces flooding from rains and storms into nearby communities and roadways.
The project’s completion is a milestone for Pierce County and the Commencement Bay Trustee Council, which includes NOAA. The road removal is one of two Clear Creek restoration projects that were recently funded by the Trustee Council as part of a larger restoration effort paid for through settlement funds from the Commencement Bay natural resources damages case.
"The Puyallup watershed has seen more than its fair share of impacts from pollution," said Jen Steger, Pacific Region manager for NOAA Fisheries' Office of Habitat Conservation. "This restoration is an important step towards a healthier future for salmon and people. We are grateful for the longtime partners who share this strong vision for a healthier future for the river, its people and this place."
The Clear Creek projects, consisting of this road decommissioning project and an upcoming floodgate replacement project, are part of a broader ecosystem-based approach to restore habitat for fish, birds, and wildlife. The Trustee Council has been guided by this approach in order to restore habitat for resources injured by pollution. The Clear Creek projects highlight the partnerships that the Trustee Council has established with local entities, such as Pierce County, to achieve shared restoration goals.
The Commencement Bay Trustee Council has been working to settle with polluters and restore habitat in Commencement Bay and its waterways since 1991 through the Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDA) process. To date, the Trustee Council has recovered over $70 million in settlements to fund restoration. Along with NOAA, other members of the Trustee Council include the U.S. Department of Interior represented by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, and the Washington State Department of Ecology.
To learn more about restoration led by the Commencement Bay Trustee Council, check out the new Commencement Bay Story Map.