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Adopt a Stream to take on Bothell Landing: Working with the city and a King County grant, foundation hopes to restore a portion of the Sammamish River
Cutlines: In 2008, Adopt a Stream volunteers went to work to stabilize 200 feet of eroding Swamp Creek streambank, seen in the “before" (first) photo. In the next photo, a combination of large, woody debris and bioengineered soil lifts help control the flow of the water and help ensure the stability of the revamped streambank.
A 1.7-acre stretch along the Sammamish River near Bothell Landing is about to get some major retrofitting courtesy of the city of Bothell, the Adopt a Stream Foundation and, officials hope, a good number of volunteers.
Surface-water-programs coordinator for Bothell, Janet Geer said the city chose the spot because it is near Bothell’s most visible and heavily-used park. Adopt a Stream Executive Director Tom Murdoch said the work hopefully will spur similar projects elsewhere in the city.
“Adopting a stream is a pretty complex exercise,” said Murdoch, who added his organization will offer a series of free classes to interested residents who will be asked — along with other volunteers — to help in the restoration of the targeted piece of the Sammamish.
Adopt a Stream’s first local course was Jan. 20, with the next slated for Feb. 3. The third won’t happen until May, but in between, volunteers will be invited to help begin the conservation work along the river, Murdoch said.
Essentially, the work will consist of removing non-native plants, replacing them with more appropriate vegetation.
Murdoch said his hope is to plant some 450 trees and shrubs along with 1,500 cuttings. Both Murdoch and Geer said restoring to its original state the vegetation along the river or any waterway is important for a number of reasons.
According to Geer, native vegetation provides shade, helping regulate the temperature of the water, making it more fish-friendly. The trees and plants also provide food sources for insects and invertebrates that in turn become food for fish, frogs and so on.
“Bothell streambanks, like most urban banks, are highly degraded,” Geer said, “and as a result, our streams are in poor shape.”
Geer added that vegetative invaders such as blackberry bushes, ivy and knotweed are all too common.
Further, local streambanks also tend to be lacking in trees. Landscaped grass often runs right up to the water, which cuts down on shade and also increases the amount of pollution reaching waterways, Geer said.
While Murdoch said bank-restoration projects can get complicated, Geer stated they also generally come with large price tags and that maintenance is always an issue. Still, both she and Murdoch said stream restorations can be done and be surprisingly successful.
“We’ve had some pretty remarkable projects,” Murdoch said. He talked about “daylighting” a stream that had been diverted into an underground pipe in south Everett.
He added his organization has worked in dozens of other locations, including along Swamp Creek, restoring native vegetation, but also putting in fish ladders and removing barriers to fish migration.
For the Bothell work, both Geer and Murdoch said education is a major first step. Murdoch said volunteers need to understand what a watershed really is, what a riparian — or vegetative zone — around a waterway should look like.
Geer said the use of volunteers for restoration projects cuts down on costs. She said older participants who attend Adopt a Stream classes can help guide younger volunteers who just show up for the actual restoration work.
“We then keep in touch with the participants and volunteers and ask them to help us with the monitoring and maintenance,” she added.
Overall, by using Adopt a Stream and volunteers, Geer said the Sammamish restoration work should be done at about one-third of what it would have cost to restore the site professionally.
Murdoch said he was expecting about 30 people for the first Bothell class. He said his organization has experienced good outcomes in terms of volunteers sticking with the program.
“We’ve had some pretty good success because we offer pretty good classes,” Murdoch said, stating the courses even can be used for college credit.
Anyone interested can still join in the Bothell project. Go to the city of Bothell Web site and search for Adopt a Stream.
Would-be volunteers also can visit the Adopt a Stream site.