Willowmoor Reach Restoration
Sammamish River, Washington
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To enhance the environment, King County's Department of Natural Resources and Parks is planning a habitat restoration project on the upper Sammamish River in Marymoor Park. The project will reconfigure 1,400 feet of the Sammamish River to improve and expand the habitat available for fish and wildlife -- while maintaining current flood protection on the river and along the Lake Sammamish shoreline.
The Willowmoor Reach Restoration project has several goals:
- Re-establish a natural riparian plant community along the river banks
- Improve the dynamic interaction between the river and its adjacent floodplain, wetlands, tributaries and historic channel alignments
- Restore a wetland along the left (western) bank that was filled when the river was straightened for flood control in the early 1960s
- Improve flow conveyance to provide flood protection
- Increase the quantity, quality, and structural complexity of instream habitat
- Improve aesthetics and increase public awareness about the fish and wildlife habitat in and near the river and Lake Sammamish.
Fish habitat improvements
location of the project site in Marymoor Park (click on map for larger image)
The Sammamish River supports a wide diversity of fish and wildlife, and remains a key migration corridor for both riverine and terrestrial species, despite severe modification of the river environment. The vitality of this resource reflects the success and dedication of local stewardship efforts to protect these resources. However, existing conditions in the river are not ideal, especially for fish.
The Willowmoor Reach Restoration Project aims to make the following improvements:
- Add overhanging vegetation for food, shade, protective cover, and bird nesting;
- Increase the number and size of pools and instream habitat features like logs in the river to give fish hiding and resting places;
- Reconnect the river with tributary streams, remove fill from degraded wetlands, and possibly re-meander a section of the main channel to support off-channel rearing; and
- Create pockets of cool water in the river for fish to rest in during their upstream migration.
In the 1960s, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers constructed the Sammamish River Improvement Project to reduce flooding along the Sammamish River. The Willowmoor Reach plays a significant role in the project's flood control function, and was historically managed solely for this purpose. More recently, management of this flood control facility has shifted in focus from a single objective towards practices that support multiple benefits. Reconfiguration of the landscape will allow the river to occupy a modified pathway during high flows, improving flood conveyance and reducing the long-term maintenance costs while supporting many other beneficial functions and habitat values of this resource-rich area.
In addition to improving habitat and managing flooding, the project will increase recreational opportunities in the river corridor. Foot trails will wind through shady groves of trees and shrubs. Interpretive signs and overlooks may be added to help park users understand and appreciate the natural processes occurring within the river corridor.
This project will build on the successful foundation laid by earlier projects spearheaded by King County, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Cities of Redmond, Woodinville, Bothell and Kenmore, with support from local citizens' groups such as Friends of the Sammamish River, Bellevue Breakfast Rotary Club, Audubon Society, and Serve Our Dog Area. Examples of prior efforts include fencing, planting, and creating formal river access areas in the off-leash dog area; rebuilding the weir to improve fish passage; reconnecting numerous side tributaries; installing large wood and rock features along the margins of the channel; and removing weeds and replanting riverbanks along many stretches of the river. The success of these projects is largely the result of the cooperative partnership that has grown between the governing agencies and the many volunteers and park users who have helped steward the land.
Project Timeline for Willowmoor Reach Restoration
|Project Scoping with input from Partners and Stakeholders
|Permits and Design Revisions
Contact us if you need more information about the Willowmoor Reach Restoration Project.
Nancy Faegenburg, Project Manager
201 S Jackson Street, Suite 600
Seattle, WA 98104
Sammamish Watershed Map
The Sammamish Watershed Map includes King County and Snohomish County portions of the Sammamish River Watershed and contains streams, lakes, drainage divides, major roads, urban growth boundary, and agriculture production district. The map is in Adobe Acrobat format. File size is 463 Kb and will take approximately 2.7 minutes to download on a standard 28.8Kb/sec modem.
Historic Aerial Photos
This series of photos from 1936 to 1996 shows the changes to the Sammamish River channel and surrounding land use in the project area. The project site is in the upper left corner of the photos, where you can see a double meander in the 1936 photo has been straightened and channelized in the 1970 photo.
Sammamish River Photos
For questions about the Willowmoor Reach Restoration Project, please contact Nancy Faegenburg, Senior Engineer, River and Floodplain Management Section.