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Central Puget Sound

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Stream Blog for Miller and Walker Creeks:
Observations from the Stream Bank During 2009

This Web page records observations of Miller and Walker Creeks from the people who live, work, and play alongside them. Observations during 2009 are on:

  • Water quality and quantity
  • Fish presence
  • Efforts by people to improve the heath of the stream basin

View the 2010 stream blog.

View the 2008 stream blog.

View the 2007 stream blog.

Date: November 24, 2009
Location: Walker Creek at the Walker Preserve in Normandy Park
Source: Dennis Clark, Basin Steward
Observation: Eleven student volunteers and four staff from the Waskowitz High School Program at Highline School District (external link) completed the removal of English ivy from inside the loop at the end of the trail in the Walker Preserve today.  The rain in no way dampened the energy of the students, who also used this service learning event to talk about species diversity, soils, and the need to control noxious weeds such as ivy.  This work completed work initiated by other volunteers in October 2008 and continued this October 3.  (There also is a mystery volunteer who has been working apparently on his/her own to remove ivy in the same area -- thanks!)  While there is much ivy remaining in the Preserve, we have now completely eradicated it from within the loop at the western end of the Preserve.  Removing the ivy is key to preserving the long-term health of the city forest that lies between Walker and Miller Creeks.  Thanks go especially to Tim Wood, coordinator of the Waskowitz High School Program, for arranging this contribution to our stewardship effort.

Students in yellow rain gear clearing ivy from the forest floor
The students get to work pulling English ivy out by the roots.  This area also includes some native conifer trees planted here last fall by volunteers.  In two hours, the volunteers removed all the ivy shown here.

Photo of student in rain gear giving thumbs-up signal next to pile of ivy vines in a forest
One of the students taking satisfaction at the conclusion of the job.  The piles of ivy they pulled will eventually break down and enrich the soil of the forest floor.

Date: November 17, 2009
Location: Walker Creek at 12th Ave. S.W. just upstream from the Normandy Park Swim Club in Normandy Park
Source: Dennis Clark, Stream Steward
Observation: Observed two chum salmon underneath the fence downstream from the culvert.  The water was too turbid to determine the sex of the fish.

Date: November 17, 2009
Location: Miller Creek and Walker Creek at various locations
Source: Dennis Clark, Stream Steward
Observation: In response to multiple observations over the years of periodic large amounts of foam in Miller Creek, I purchased a kit to test for the presence and concentration of two common detergents (surfactants) in surface water.  Detergents could end up in the creek either from stormwater runoff or from dumping.  Since foam also can be created by natural processes, the kit helps to distinguish between natural foam and anthropogenic (human-created) foam.  Today I tested the kit for the first time on two samples from Miller Creek -- one from Normandy Park and one from Burien -- and one sample from Walker Creek.  I did not expect to find detergents given the normal levels of foam I observed and the tests all came up negative.  This null information serves as a baseline to compare future results.  I will be out in the field during future storm events when the foam seems to be most common to conduct further tests.  Citizens observing large amounts of foam should notify me.

Photo of man doing science experiment outside
Stream steward Dennis Clark tests Miller and Walker Creek water samples for the presence of detergents on November 17.

Date: November 8, 2009
Location: Miller Creek just upstream from the Southwest Suburban Sewer District Plant (external link) in Normandy Park
Source: Brett Fish
Observation: Observed the first chum of the season.  Chum return later in the season and can be expected in the streams through the end of December.  The chum were exhibiting odd behavior with males digging the redds, females watching.  One large, very atheletic chum spooked and tore off down stream so fast he beached himself with his momentum. Female was very small, estimated 16-18 inches.

Collage of photos of chum salmon by Brett Fish
Collage of photos of the first chum of the season viewed in Miller Creek on November 8.  Note the pronounced "lightning stripes" and red coloration that distinguish male chum.  Photos courtesy of Brett Fish.

Date: November 6, 2009
Location: Walker Creek at the culverts under 13th Ave. S.W. in Normandy Park
Source: Dennis Clark, Stream Steward
Observation: Observed at least four coho salmon in the pool between the culverts and the downstream gravel bar.  I suspect they came upstream on the tail end of last night's tremendous thunderstorms.  At least three were males and two of them were small enough to be "jacks" (immature males who return a year before their age cohort normally would).

Date: October 27, 2009
Location: Miller Creek on SeaTac Airport property in SeaTac
Source: Josh Feigin, Port of Seattle
Observation: Josh saw a total of seven adult coho in Miller Creek and heard a few more in riffles.  Several (at least three) of the fish were above the waterfall located just south of 157th.  These are the first fish he has seen make it past this natural barrier.  The water level and flow must have been just right during the big rain events of the past few days.  Josh also found one dead female coho of apparently wild-origin (not a hatchery fish).

Date: October 25, 2009
Location: Normandy Park Swim Club in Normandy Park
Source: Dennis Clark, Stream Steward
Observation: Last spring and this spring, the Normandy Park Swim Club controlled invasive weeds such as Himalayan blackberry along Walker Creek where it flows through the club grounds.  Having cleared the bad plants, the ground was clear for today's major tree planting.  Over 25 people turned out to plant 160 native trees and shrubs in pots.  They also planted 100 Sitka willow stakes.  In time, the trees will improve this reach of Walker Creek for juvenile salmon.  Shade will cool the water and insects will fall from the vegetation into the stream to feed the young fish.  Thanks to the Swim Club for making this commitment to improving the stream resource!

Photo of people standing on banks of small stream to view fish
On Saturday, October 24, Jim Pitts' family helped with preparing for the following day's planting.  A migrating coho salmon briefly diverted everyone's attention to the stream itself.

Photo of people planting trees along a small stream
The volunteers get to work on October 25.  Plants were clustered into patches so kids can still run around and look at the creek.

Photo of people planting trees and shrubs along a small stream
Another view of the volunteers hard at work along Walker Creek at the Swim Club.  Orange flags will help keep from losing the trees in grass next year.  Kids were encouraged to name their plants and write the name on the flag -- they'll be able to visit "their" tree next summer and see how it's growing!  The pile of debris in the foreground is Himalayan blackberry canes dug up the previous day.

Date: October 24, 2009
Location: Village at Miller's Creek development between Ambaum Blvd. and First Ave. S. in Burien
Source: Dennis Clark, Stream Steward
Observation: New stream basin residents who live at the Village at Miller's Creek development are continuing improvements to the health of Miller Creek.  This winter and spring, members of the association cleared English ivy from the base of all the trees in their greenbelt along the stream.  Today, they planted 45 native trees on the north and south banks of the streams.  Most of the plants were conifers -- hemlock, western red cedar, and grand fir -- to increase the diversity of trees along the creek, which is currently dominated by black cottonwood and red alders.  Great turnout by the homeowners got the work done in just two hours!

Date: October 23, 2009
Location: Miller Creek just upstream from the Southwest Suburban Sewer District Plant (external link) in Normandy Park
Source: Dennis Clark, Stream Steward
Observation: Keen stream observer Brett Fish (see entries below) called me this afternoon to report more fish suffering from pre-spawn mortality in Miller Creek.  Pre-spawn mortality (external link) is the phenomenon discussed in previous posts in which otherwise seemingly healthy adult salmon die before they can mate.  I popped down to the creek and we took a look at two male coho that had recently died.  Staff from the Southwest Suburban Sewer District and I checked basic stream chemistry -- temperature, disolved oxygen, and pH -- at the time and found conditions to be fairly good.  Clearly something else is going on.  While studying the carcasses, we heard another fish migrating upstream.  As we turned to watch this bright silver female coho go past, she started flopping around the stream, splashing us.  It was as if she was trying to get out of the water and in fact flipped herself onto a gravel bar.  Since she would surely suffocate there, I gently nudged her back in the water.  She swam briefly before beaching herself on her side.  Every 30 - 60 seconds, she would convulsively gape.  She was otherwise a beautiful fish with only a few scrapes on her head to show her recent struggles migrating upstream.  She died soon thereafter, not having had a chance to complete her epic life journey by laying her eggs.  While pre-spawn mortality is not new on this creek and is common in urbanized Puget Sound streams, it is disturbing to witness it in person.

Photo of fish swimming in stream
Here the female adult coho salmon is beginning to twist and turn in the stream.  This behavior is different from redd (egg nest) building activity.

Photo of salmon swimming in stream
This coho is flopping around on her side, splashing us.  Coho are the most skittish of salmon and usually swim away from people but she seemed oblivious to us.

Photo of salmon flopping on gravel bar with person standing nearby
The coho has flung herself out of the stream and is flopping on the gravel bar.

Photo of salmon lying on its side in shallow stream
Here the coho has come to her side in the shallows, another victim of pre-spawn mortality.  Periodically her mouth would briefly gape open.  She was visibly swollen with eggs that she will not have a chance to lay.

Photo of salmon cut open to reveal internal organs
Determining whether a fish found dead suffered from pre-spawn mortality is not certain but if milt (sperm) or eggs are present, it is possible that is the cause.  Brett cut this dead male open, revealing that the testes -- the two white organs in the center of cavity -- are still full of milt.

Date: October 20, 2009
Location: Miller Creek just upstream from the Southwest Suburban Sewer District Plant (external link) in Normandy Park
Source: Brett Fish
Observation: Observed a male coho in full spawning colors (photo below).  It was followed upstream by a 12-15" female coho.  Both seemed a little sluggish but were able to jump the falls.  Also observed another male victim of pre-spawn mortality found mouth agape, adipose fin clipped (meaning it's a hatchery-origin fish), anal tube not extended (meaning it did not spawn), estimating 24-26 inches in length.  It was more than half way out of the water surrounded by suds/foam.

Photo of fish swimming in stream.  Photo by Brett Fish.
Salmon in action!  This male coho salmon migrating up Miller Creek was caught on camera by Brett Fish on October 20.

Date: October 19, 2009
Location: Miller Creek on SeaTac Airport property in SeaTac
Source: Josh Feigin, Port of Seattle
Observation: Saw two coho salmon while inspecting the creek.  Looked like a male and female.  They were a little south of S. 160th St.   The male was in his spawning color, about 25 inches long.

Date: October 18, 2009
Location: Walker Creek at 12th Ave. S.W. just upstream from the Normandy Park Swim Club in Normandy Park
Source: Clarke Brant
Observation: Observed four coho salmon in the pool just downstream of the culverts under the road.  Coho are the most skittish of salmon and if they sense someone around, they dart into the culvert.

Date: October 18, 2009
Location: Miller Creek just upstream from the Southwest Suburban Sewer District Plant (external link) in Normandy Park
Source: Brett Fish
Observation: Observed a dead larger coho nearly 30 inches long.  Adipose fin was clipped, indicating it was a hatchery origin fish.  Anal tube was not extended, indicating it died before it could spawn.  Color was bled out and gills were brown.  Appeared to have been dead 24 hours.

This fish is another sad example of pre-spawn mortality among coho salmon (external link), a common phenomenon on Miller and Walker Creeks and many urban streams in Puget Sound.  There appears to be some combination of pollutants in urban stormwater that kills adult (but not juvenile) coho salmon.  Other species of salmon do not appear to be affected.  NOAA Fisheries in researching the cause of this problem.  In the meantime, watershed residents can reduce their use of possible contributing pollutants by following the stewardship tips.

Photo of coho salmon lying on gravel with tape measure next to it for scale - photo courtesy of Brett Fish
Coho salmon found on Miller Creek on October 18.  Photo courtesy of Brett Fish.

Date: October 17, 2009
Location: Miller Creek at S. 144th St. in Normandy Park
Source: Dennis Clark, Basin Steward
Observation: Remember the torrential rain showers that occurred throughout the day?  Who would be crazy enough to be out in that downpour?  Well, me and seven volunteers!  The eight of us planted 37 trees -- spruce, black cottonwood, western red cedar, and Oregon ash -- as well as 75 Sitka willow stakes along Miller Creek at the S. 144th St. restoration site.  This planting completed the restoration that began here back in 2007.  Planting also occurred here in 2008 and mulching and weeding has been done periodically throughout the last two years.  This sustained care is transforming a 300 foot stretch of stream dominated by invasive Himalayan blackberry (with some good salmonberry and mature cottonwood trees) into a reach containing only a healthy diversity of native trees and shrubs.  With on-going periodic care, this portion of the stream could become one of the best in the basin.  Although it is located upstream of a fish passage barrier at S. 156th St., juvenile hatchery salmon are outplanted here each January and are observed rearing through much of the summer.  They benefit from the shade and insect inputs provided by the growing vegetation.

The volunteers -- none of whom melted -- included Larry Amende, Jim Burrows, Normandy Park Councilmember Clarke Brant, Gary Jones, Earnie Thompson, and Anne Wise.  Also helping was Washington Conservation Corps crew Andy Quast, who had helped with the kickoff work back in 2007.  Thank you all.

People of people standing in the rain next to newly-planted small trees
Soaked and none-too-clean, volunteers Gary and Anne proudly stand amidst trees they planted during Saturday's heavy rains.  Miller Creek is just beyond the yellow leafy plants.

Photo of freshly-planted small Sitka spruce tree
A Sitka spruce tree planted next to Miller Creek by the volunteers on Saturday.  The spruce is planted amidst the remains of Bohemian knotweed, a non-native invasive weed that has been controlled along this reach of Miller Creek through the careful application of herbicide by licensed crews.  Flagging on the tree makes it more visible to crews weeding in the area.  Each year's plants gets a different colored flag so survival rates can be tracked.

Photo of stream with water starting to flow over the banks
Miller Creek showing Sitka willow stakes along the edge of the water.  Volunteers planted the stakes by simply driving them into the soft soil by the edge of the stream.  Because of the intense rain and the large amounts of impervious surfaces (roofs, paved surfaces) in the basin, the stream flow increased dramatically during the three-hour project on October 17.  Several stakes were planted on dry land but can be seen surrounded by the rising waters.  This will not harm the willows as they are adapted to stream environments where water levels can fluctuate dramatically.

Date: October 15, 2009
Location: Miller/Walker Creeks at the Cove (external link) in Normandy Park
Source: Andy Batcho
Observation: During high tide at 3 p.m., Andy observed the following:

  • One ~12”, ~½ lb., male coho (jack or immature fish) with adipose fin (indicating it is a wild-origin fish); ~50-yards below the confluence of Miller/Walker Creeks in Miller Creek.  Fish was recently dead.  Upon inspection, found it had well developed milt sacks.  No signs of physical injury on the fish.  Cut a twig and pinned the carcass into the stream bed to allow decomposition.
  • Seven coho, mix of male & female, large, approx. 7 – 10 lbs., bright red sides, swimming inside the mouth of Miller Creek, ~30-50 yards above the mouth of the stream in front of the Longridge home.  They ventured from downstream of the Longridge bridge up into the outfall of the “beaver pond”, then they would return.  Quite a bit of jumping activity in the stream, suggesting more than seven fish were present.
  • No fish observed were jumping in Puget Sound.

Date: October 15, 2009
Location: Miller Creek in Burien between Ambaum Blvd. and SR509
Source: Nancy Cantrell
Observation: Nancy observed an adult salmon in Miller Creek just below SR509.  To reach this part of the stream, the fish had to swim through the long culvert under First Avenue, which can block passage at certain water flows.

Date: October 13, 2009
Location: Miller/Walker Creek delta on Puget Sound at the Cove (external link) in Normandy Park
Source: Jim Buchman
Observation: Jim was walking on the bridge on the beach at the cove during high tide (stream was full of water) and saw a school of about 15 salmon come underneath the bridge. They were jumping and moving around on the stream side of the bridge. About 15 minutes later, he saw a school (probably the same one) head back out to the sound, once again jumping. He thought it was interesting as they came in and then went back out and also that they stayed in a group. He did not see any single fish or any others, just the one group which seemed to stay together.he first reported salmon of the season was observed by a visitor to the Cove today.

Date: October 10, 2009
Location: Miller Creek at the Cove (external link) in Normandy Park
Source: Tony Cassarino, Stewards of the Cove
Observation: The first reported salmon of the season was observed by a visitor to the Cove today.

Date: October 3, 2009
Location: Walker Creek at the Walker Preserve in Normandy Park
Source: Dennis Clark, Basin Steward
Observation: Eleven volunteers turned out under cloudy, sprinkly skies to remove ivy and invasive plants from the Walker Preserve, located between Walker and Miller Creeks. It was relatively easy work given the hard work by volunteers done last October -- this year we were removing just a year's worth of ivy growth from trees rather than five or more year's worth.  We were heartened by the very high survival rates of conifer trees planted last fall.  Even without watering during their first summer -- they're too far from a water source -- it looks like 95% of the trees planted survived.

Date: September 24, 2009
Location: Miller Creek in Normandy Park
Source: Dennis Clark, Basin Steward
Observation: Volunteers did more work to make it easier for our adult salmon to migrate upstream.  Continuing the effort begun Monday, volunteers Andy Batcho, Jim Buchman, Jim Burrows, and Larry O'Neil joined me to create access through a very large log jam on Miller Creek in Normandy Park.  We carefully removed small- and mid-sized limbs from a tangle of large maple tree trunks that had fallen in the stream.  This will allow the adult salmon to migrate past while leaving most of the wood in the stream, where it provides shelter for the fish and has created a nice pool where young fish can grow.  Thanks to our hard-working volunteers, the fish will have an easier time migrating home to spawn this fall.

Photo of man standing in front of log jam in stream in a forest
Jim stands downstream of the big log jam on Miller Creek.  The stream was about two feet higher upstream.

Photo of three men standing in a stream in front of a log jam
Larry, Jim, and Jim (l-r) work on the log jam from the upstream side.  All of the wood pulled out of the jam to improve fish access was put back in the stream below the jam so it can continue to serve its vital ecological role in the stream.

Photo of man cutting a log with a chain saw
Andy always has a good time volunteering if he gets to use his chainsaw!  A few limbs were cut to create a path through the jam for adult salmon.  These limbs were removed with prior permission from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, which regulates activities that occur in stream channels.

Photo of small orange salamander next to a glove for scale
Slow and careful work yields unexpected rewards.  Removing one log from the jam revealed this western red-backed salamander (Plethodon vehiculum), which we carefully relocated to the stream bank.  Glove at left provides sense of scale.  This was a full-grown or close to full-grown animal.

Date: September 21, 2009
Location: Miller Creek in Burien and Normandy Park
Source: Dennis Clark, Basin Steward
Observation: Five of us embarked today on a project to assess and, where necessary, remove possible fish passage barriers on Miller Creek.  Out of concern that debris jams on the creek might impede upstream passage by coho and chum salmon this fall, I obtained permission from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to assess and remove any jams likely to cause problems.  Larry Fisher from WDFW participated to provide his expertise.

Helping were regular stream volunteers Andy Batcho, Jim Buchman, and Dave Evans.  Also assisting were the private property owners who graciously provided permission to cross their land to reach the jams.

We assessed three jams -- one in Burien and two in Normandy Park.  Two were small enough that we could remove a few pieces to create the needed passage.  The third was quite large and we'll return on another day with the equipment needed to safely pull part of it aside.

This work is being done carefully to make sure the net effect is of benefit to the stream.  Fish often can get past jams that look impenetrable to people.  Moreover, tree trunks and limbs in the stream create pools where young fish rear and shelter for fish from high flows.  Sometimes, however, jams in small streams such as Miller Creek can create a complete passage barrier.  Careful assessment is required at each jam to determine whether and how it should be removed.

Accompanying us was Michael Brunk of the B-Town Blog.  His photos of the work party are posted on-line.  Although planning to simply photograph our work, Michael was game enough to help out in rolling the biggest logs -- thanks Michael!

Photo of men standing in stream next to log jam
Andy, Jim, and Larry (left-right) assess one of the smaller jams on Miller Creek in Normandy Park.  Note the pool just downstream that provides good habitat for young fish.  We removed only a few pieces of wood -- much of the jam was left in place, albeit with lots of gaps where adult fish could swim past.

Photo of men removing sticks from stream
Dave, Jim, and Andy (left-right) remove smaller sticks and bittersweet nightshade vines from a jam on Miller Creek in Burien.  Larger logs were left in place to provide structure to the stream channel and help slow high water flows during storms.

Date: August 24, 2009
Location: Walker Creek at the Walker Preserve in Normandy Park
Source: Dennis Clark, Basin Steward
Observation: A long-anticipated stream restoration on Walker Creek was constructed this month, improving the health of the stream for fish.  A section of Walker Creek was re-countoured and re-lined with gravel suitable for salmon spawning.  Small tree trunks were placed across the stream and buried into the stream banks to provide shelter for fish and control streambank erosion.  Non-native invasive plants were removed.  Later this fall, native trees and shrubs will be planted along the stream where invasive vegetation was removed.

This project was carried out by the City of Normandy Park in partnership with neighboring property owners.  This project was paid for with a $50,000 Washington State Department of Ecology Coastal Protection Grant and a $50,000 Community Salmon Fund grant.

The Walker Preserve remains closed at this time because there is no pedestrian bridge across Walker Creek.  When the new bridge is installed, the community will be invited to see the restoration -- and the new bridge itself -- and help with additional stewardship to care for the the aquatic and forest resources of the Walker Preserve.  In the meantime, the photos below will give you a sense of the scale and quality of this restoration project.

Photo of small logs lying in a small stream in a forest
This seeming jumble of tree trunks has been carefully constructed to withstand the high flows in the creek during winter storms.  Jute matting on the right bank will help protect the bank from erosion and the stream from siltation while trees and shrubs -- to be planted this fall -- get established.  Mature native vegetation beyond the log jam was retained as part of project design.  August 24, 2009 photo.

Photo of small logs lying in a small stream in a forest
Boulders and logs have been installed to help reduce shoreline erosion and will provide shelter for young coho salmon and cutthroat trout that rear in the stream.  Gravel has been added to the stream channel to make it more likely that spawning salmon will lay their eggs here.  August 24, 2009 photo.

Photo of small logs lying in a small stream in a forest
This photo shows the logs and boulders installed on the private property immediately downstream of the Walker Preserve.  Because only a small part of Walker Creek is in the Walker Preserve itself, partnership with the neighbors made possible a large enough area to do a worthwhile restoration project.  August 24, 2009 photo.

Photo of stream in a forest
This photo shows the most downstream portion of the project.  Note the logs buried on both sides of the stream bank to help naturally control erosion.  Non-native English laurel shrubs were cut down and run through a wood chipper.  The resulting wood chip mulch is used on the right bank to help suppress weeds and build up the soil -- recycling at work!  August 24, 2009 photo.

Date: August 24, 2009
Location: Miller Creek north of SR518 in SeaTac
Source: Dennis Clark, Basin Steward
Observation: People driving along Des Moines Memorial Drive just north of SR518 will notice construction east of the road.  This work at the former Des Moines Nursery is the last major ecological mitigation effort associated with the Port of Seattle's Master Plan Update Improvements which included the Third Runway.

The site is 5.6 acres and consists of wetland restoration (1.53 acres), wetland rehabilitation (0.60 acres), wetland enhancement (0.20 acres), and upland buffer enhancement (3.00 acres).  The project also will include stream channel enhancements with the addition of large wood (tree trunks) to Miller Creek and in the surrounding wetlands.  In addition, a portion of a piped storm drain will be converted into an open vegetated swale for improved water quality treatment.  Approximately 13,000 trees and shrubs will be planted on the site.

Project construction will be completed in November.

Photo of freshly graded dirt in field with trees in background
Grading of the Port's final mitigation project is underway along Miller Creek east of Des Moines Memorial Drive and north of SR518.  August 24, 2009 photo.

Photo of bulldozer and truck dumping bark on freshly graded field
The contractor is bringing in bark for soil amendment and weed suppression in the freshly-graded areas along Miller Creek.  This mitigation project is located in the city of SeaTac.  August 24, 2009 photo.

Date: August 3, 2009
Location: Walker Creek in Burien
Source: Dennis Clark, Basin Steward
Observation: After several sightings over the last two months, I was finally able to take photos of the beavers on Walker Creek.  Here are the -- depending on your perspective -- creators of wetlands, nuisance wildlife, keystone species, tree killers, cuddly critters, culvert-pluggers:

Photo of beaver swimming next to beaver dam
The beaver is bringing sticks to build up its dam.  Basin steward Dennis Clark installed the stake with markings to allow monitoring of changes in the water level.

Photo of beaver on top of beaver dam.
Here the beaver has clambered up onto the dam to place a stick across the flow of water over the dam.

Date: July 31, 2009
Location: Walker Creek in Burien and Normandy Park
Source: Dennis Clark, Basin Steward
Observation: Per yesterday's entry, further work was needed to clear the Walker Creek culverts under Des Moines Memorial Drive in Burien.  Overnight, the beavers were as busy as -- well, beavers -- and they had partly replugged one culvert and rebuilt a dam.

My clearing efforts did raise the water level flowing downstream by 2 p.m. Friday.  As occurred yesterday, shortly after I concluded my work, the water flowing downstream became clear.  Any longer-lasting turbidity downstream likely is due to sediment in the stream being mobilized by the temporarily higher flows.  Reports from people in Normandy Park confirm that turbidity decreases once the flows do.

This clearing of the culverts and the attendant flow fluctuations downstream hopefully should occur no longer than for a few days next week.  This manipulation of the stream is not desirable and is only occurring as a byproduct of efforts to protect public property (a major road) and private property (a septic drain field).

Date: July 30, 2009
Location: Walker Creek in Burien and Normandy Park
Source: Dennis Clark, Basin Steward
Observation: People living along Walker Creek might have been mystified by a pulse of turbid brown water and sustained high flows in the creek that began today around Noon. The explanation was the unclogging of a culvert under Des Moines Memorial Drive that had been plugged by beavers.  This released a great deal of water that had accumulated in the wetland over the last several days.  The wetland is fed by strong groundwater flows that apparently are little affected by the lack of significant rain since May.  The unclogging of the culvert briefly created some turbidity (sediment in the water) as the material in the culvert broke free.  However, most of the turbidity observed downstream appears to have been sediment lying on the bottom of the stream downstream of Des Moines Memorial Drive that has been picked up by the high flows.  As the flows subside, so will the turbidity.

One byproduct of today's culvert clean out was that I was able to time how long it takes water to travel in Walker Creek from Des Moines Memorial Drive in Burien to 12th Ave. S.W. ("Snake Road") in Normandy Park at the bottom of the basin.  The culvert was opened up at 11:20 a.m.  At 12:42 p.m. flows at the culvert next to the Normandy Park Swim Club suddenly jumped and the water became turbid.  After about 10 minutes, the stream level was about three inches higher.  My calculations put the flow rate of the surge at about 1.4 miles per hour (the two observation locations are about 1.9 stream miles apart).

The culvert was partly unclogged by a neighbor on Saturday, July 25, which caused an apparently smaller surge of water in the stream that was noted by a number of neighbors.

There may be additional fluctuations of the stream level over the next week as we strive to keep the culverts open.

The clogged culverts are one of the consequences of having two beavers living in the Walker Wetlands.  Frequent cleanout of the culverts is labor-intensive and thus expensive.  The City of Burien is analyzing options for managing the culverts and/or beavers.

If you have questions, observations, or concerns about Walker Creek flows/turbidity, please feel free to contact me: Dennis Clark, 206-296-1909.

Date: July 23, 2009
Location: ERAC Building in Burien
Source: Dennis Clark, Basin Steward
Observation: The Lora Lake Apartments south of SR518 and west of Des Moines Memorial Drive in Burien are slated for removal.  It turns out the apartments were constructed on property that has major soil contamination.  This evening, the Department of Ecology and the Port of Seattle held a public meeting to explain the process that will carefully analyze the location, type, and degree of contamination.  Eventually, based in part on future planned uses for the site, a cleanup plan will be developed.  Effective and timely cleanup will reduce human health risks and the risk of transmission of contaminants to Miller Creek via surface or groundwater.  Learn more at the Ecology web site on the cleanup.

Date: July 22, 2009
Location: Miller Creek at S. 144th Way in Burien
Source: Dennis Clark, Basin Steward
Observation: Having trouble getting volunteers to show up on these nice summer weekends, I organized a "happy hour" weeding party after work in the middle of the week in hopes of making it easier for volunteers to find time.  To my delight, nine people showed up: Normandy Park Councilmember Clarke Brant, Jim Burrows, Burien Councilmember Rose Clark, Dwight Fagothey, Jeremy Grisham from the Veterans Conservation Corps, Ron Johanson, Burien Councilmember Gordon Shaw, Jean Spohn, Ernie Thompson.

The volunteers weeded the trees and shrubs planted in 2007 and 2008 along this strech of Miller Creek in northeast Burien.  At the end of the hour of weeding, everyone enjoyed ice cold root beer.

I was mildly shocked with volunteer Clarke Brant pulled out a chain saw when he arrived.  However, Clarke is a regular volunteer for Miller and Walker Creeks so I figured he had a good -- if uncommon -- idea.  He proceeded to saw two feet off the end of a toppled tree that was blocking light to a small western red cedar.  He and his fellow councilmembers from Burien and Normandy Park had planted this tree -- which they named "Red" -- back in October 2007.  Now that's commitment to caring for the trees you planted!

Photo of man pointing to small cedar tree planted in a forest
After cutting off the end of a downed tree (at left), Clarke holds up the tag on "Red."  Clarke and others councilmembers from Burien and Normandy Park planted "Red" along Miller Creek in 2007.  No longer trapped underneath the log, it can now grow tall.

Date: June 1, 2009
Location: Walker Wetland east of Des Moines Memorial Drive in Burien
Source: Dennis Clark, Basin Steward
Observation: This weekend, I received an e-mail from a neighbor of the Walker Wetland in Burien.  He was wondering why the water level in the wetland had come up in the last few weeks when we've had no rain.  I visited the site today and sure enough, the water level was over a foot higher than it usually is.  Downstream the water was slack -- and high -- until I reached the cause: a low dam of sticks and mud.  Beavers!  Beavers used to be present in the basin but the last one was killed some years ago.  Poking around in the deep water of the wetland, I came face-to-face with one of the soggy rodents.  He dove and I didn't see him again.

The beaver -- or beavers -- has chosen a good location from the perspective of fish in Walker Creek.  There's no spawning habitat upstream of its dam and the increased size and depth of the wetland will provide good rearing habitat for coho salmon outplanted by Trout Unlimited.

It's possible the beaver migrated to Walker Creek from Des Moines Creek, where beavers have been active.

First otters, now beavers.  Who knew how wild our stream basin would become?!

Picture of man measuring small beaver dam on stream
Basin Steward Dennis Clark measures the height of the small beaver dam on Walker Creek in Burien.  June 4, 2009 photo by Heungkook Lim, City of Burien.

Photo of stick showing distinctive marks of beaver teeth.
Stick from dam on Walker Creek with the distinctive teeth marks of a beaver.  June 1, 2009 photo.

Date: May 16, 2009
Location: Fox Creek (beneath the Sylvester Bridge) in Normandy Park
Source: Dennis Clark, Basin Steward
Observation: Last October, volunteers removed a ton of trash from the ravine.  This Saturday, they returned to finish the trash removal task, hauling about 500 pounds more of garbage out of the deep ravine.  Much of the trash was household electronics, which if not removed could have leached metals into the stream.  The volunteers also cleared English ivy from the base of native trees in the ravine.  Keeping ivy out of the forest canopy is vital for the health of the trees.  Our volunteers included Normandy Park Councilmember Clarke Brant, Jim Burrows, Paul Cooke, Brett Fish, Chris Gower, Normandy Park Councilmember George Hadley, Ron Johanson, Normandy Park Park Commissioner Ernie Thompson, Normandy Park Councilmember Marion Yoshino, and Karen and Lucero, two students from Highline High School's new environment club.  The City of Normandy Park will dispose of the collected garbage, e-waste, and recyclables.

People in hard hats and safety vests walking on slope underneath a bridge
The volunteers make their way down the slope under the Sylvester Road bridge to reach Fox Creek on May 16.

Photo of Dumpster full of garbage with bridge visible through trees in the background
Some of the 500 pounds of trash collected from the Fox Creek ravine by volunteers on May 16.  The Sylvester Road bridge is in the background.

Photo of man standing at base of tree on ivy-covered hillside
Regular stream steward Ron Johanson removes English ivy from the base of a tree in the Fox Creek ravine in the shadow of the Sylvester Road bridge on May 16.

Date: May 15, 2009
Location: Walker Creek at the Cove (external link) in Normandy Park
Source: Andy Batcho
Observation: Today I observed large numbers (~50 in groups of a dozen or so) fry (2”) in Walker Creek.  Hadn’t seen them earlier.  On Sunday, May 17, they were gone.  I saw the same situation last year about the same time. [Comment from Basin Steward Dennis Clark: These were likely coho fry.  They could be either natural-origin fish or hatchery origin coho from the Trout Unlimited hatchery outplanting in January.]

Date: May 2-3, 2009
Location: Miller Creek in Burien and Walker Creek in Normandy Park
Source: Dennis Clark, Basin Steward
Observation: This weekend, two groups of property owners put sweat equity into their properties that will benefit the streams.

On Saturday, May 2, a dozen volunteers from the Village at Miller's Creek finished the ivy removal work they started on March 14. In an hour and half, they removed ivy from the base of all the mature native trees on the south side of Miller Creek.  They also removed several hundred pounds of garbage from greenbelt along the stream.

Photo of three people smiling next to a tree
Michelle, Sung, and Maria (left to right) had fun working together to save their community trees by girdling the ivy that had climbed up the trees.  May 2, 2009 photo.

On Sunday, May 3, it was the turn of the members of the Normandy Park Swim Club to steward their stream. Last spring, the members had cleared invasive plants from the along Walker Creek in Normandy Park. On Sunday, they returned to weed the remaining invasive plants, mostly Himalayan blackberry and bittersweet nightshade. Thanks to a thorough job last spring, the weeding this time went quickly. Two years of weeding has now prepared the ground for planting of native trees and shrubs this fall. The work of the Swim Club will enhance the stream both for the benefit of the chum salmon that spawn here and for the kids who love to play around and explore the creek.

Photo of people weeding next to small stream
Todd, Scott, and Marion (left to right) weed invasive Himalayan blackberry from along the banks of Walker Creek at the Normandy Park Swim Club on May 3.

Date: April 11, 2009
Location: Miller Creek in Burien and on SeaTac Airport grounds
Source: Dennis Clark, Basin Steward
Observation: It wasn't exactly fun in the sun given the showery April weather but stream stewards still enjoyed a Saturday morning that combined volunteerism and tourism in their own figurative backyard.  This project was organized as part of the Miller/Walker Creek Stewardship Program and as part of a series of Earth Month learning activities sponsored by the Port of Seattle.

21 volunteers turned out to weed and put down mulch around the native trees and shrubs along Miller Creek at S. 144th St. in Burien.  This work cared for a project begun in 2007 and continued in 2008. The volunteers weeded invasive plants such as Himalayan blackberry and distributed a dumptruck-load worth of mulch (wood chips) in the form of rings around 300 native trees and shrubs.  The mulch will help retain soil moisture and help the trees survive our long, typically dry summers.  Volunteers included Kelley Beebe, Burien Councilmember Sue Blazak and family members Miranda and Bob, Jim Burrows, Paul Cooke, Harrison Davignon, Ron and Yota DeSilva, Edith Hutto, Jim Jollimore, Andy Kolosseus, Andrea Lindsay, Deborah and Nicole Macius, Wynne Scherf, Jean Spohn, Daryl and Drew Tapio, Normandy Park Park Commissioner Ernie Thompson, and Normandy Park Councilmember Marion Yoshino -- thank you all!  Also thanks to Southwest Suburban Sewer District, which donated the wood chip mulch as it has for previous stewardship events.

Photo of people carrying buckets next to a small stream
Volunteers create woodchip mulch rings around native trees and shrubs along Miller Creek at S. 144th St. in Burien on April 11. The mulch helps retain soil moisture and inhibits weed growth.

Photo of man standing in stream and weeding the stream bank
Volunteer Paul Cooke weeds Himalayan blackberry from the stream bank on April 11.  The sticks with light green leaves on the bank above him are Sitka willow stakes planted in October 2007.  In just a year and a half, they've already grown over two feet! Other plants planted in 2007 include western red cedar, Sitka spruce, black cottonwood, and Douglas fir.

Following two hours of stewardship work on Miller Creek, our volunteers drove a short distance south to the grounds of SeaTac Airport.  We were met by Port of Seattle biologist Josh Feigin, who escorted us on to the grounds near S. 168th St.  Josh first used a series of maps and photos to explain the stream mitigation work undertaken by the Port in association with the construction of the Third Runway.  We then walked into the mitigation area to see some of the 130,000 trees and shrubs planted along Miller Creek.  One goal of this intense planting was to create as much cover over the creek as possible.  By reducing open water, the vegetation reduces the appeal of the stream to certain types of birds and thereby reduces the risk of airplane bird strikes.  Vegetation overhanging the stream also provides shade to cool the water and insect inputs that feed fish.

Photo of man standing in street talking to a dozen people
Josh Feigin from the Port of Seattle gives the volunteers an overview of the history and purpose of the Miller Creek mitigation work.

Photo of man talking to people next to a small stream surrounded by willow bushes
His back to the stream and surrounded by a willow thicket, Josh discusses vegetation management with the volunteers.

Photo of man standing in forest talking to people
The volunteers observing the revegetated area along Miller Creek.  When houses that used to be here were removed, many mature native and ornamental trees were retained, some of which can be viewed in the middle distance.  In the far distance, the retaining wall of the Third Runway can be seen.  Planes were taking off and landing on the Third Runway during the tour but because they were out of line of sight and above us, the noise was subdued.

Photo of small stream flowing through forest
A section of Miller Creek that features both new vegetation (mitigation) as well as older native vegetation retained when the houses here were demolished.  Adult coho salmon were observed in this reach last fall.

Date: April 2, 2009
Location: Miller Creek east of Des Moines Memorial Drive/SR509 in SeaTac
Source: Dennis Clark, Basin Steward
Observation: One of the great things about being a basin steward is encountering occasional pleasant surprises that demonstrate the persistance and vitality of the natural world. I was tracking down a water quality problem when I stopped to investigate the weirs (small dams) on Miller Creek just upstream of Des Moines Memorial Drive west of the airport. Just as I was raising my camera to take a photo, I noticed what I initially thought was a soaked, black cat climb out of the right side of the stream and leap onto the mossy top of the weir. Startled, I paused and realized that was no cat -- it was a river otter! The agile critter slipped into the upstream pool before I could recover and capture it in pixels. It proceeded to swim farther upstream.

While river otters have been observed at the Cove (external link) and on Miller Creek near the sewer plant (external link), I've had no reports placing them upstream of First Ave. S. This animal presumably passed through the culvert under First Ave. S., made its way through Burien, and then passed through the even longer culvert under SR509/Des Moines Memorial Drive. What an energetic creature!

Such serendipitous sightings underscore that caring for these streams and improving the quality of water that flows in to them matters -- it matters for fish, wildlife, and people.

Addendum: After this post, I learned that the otter I saw (probably) has been seen several times in the last two months by a resident who lives along Miller Creek just downstream of the SR509/DMMD culvert.  Port of Seattle staff also told me that they've seen the otter as far upstream as 160th St. at the pool below the culvert.  Also, there were consistent otter sightings in this stretch of Miller Creek during the stream mitigation work and Third Runway construction several years ago.  So otter sightings are not as unusual as I thought but still represent an exciting glimpse into the ecology of this stream basin.

Photo of stream in a forest flowing over a small dam
This is the section of Miller Creek east of Des Moines Memorial Drive where an otter was sighted moving upstream on April 2.

Date: March 21, 2009
Location: Walker Wetland east of Des Moines Memorial Drive at S. 176th St. in Burien
Source: Dennis Clark, Basin Steward
Observation: What better way to celebrate the first full day of spring than to volunteer to steward your local wetland?  Ten volunteers chose this course and worked under sunny skies to remove weeds from the southwest corner of the Walker Wetland in Burien.

The Walker Wetland is located between Des Moines Memorial Drive and SR 509 near the headwaters of Walker Creek.  The wetaland serves as a giant sponge that absorbs and gradually releases water into the Walker Creek, thus moderating flows.  The wetland also filters stormwater runoff from nearby roads, houses, and yards.  To protect the wetland, the City of Burien purchased 18 acres of it in 2005 (some of the wetland also is in private ownership).

Saturday's stewardship project was the first at the wetland since purchase by the city.  While the wetland is generally in good shape, invasive plants such Himalayan blackberry are present.  The volunteers cut blackberry canes and dug up root balls in a 200 foot stretch around the SW corner of the wetland next to the trail built in 2008 over the sewer pipeline.  Volunteers also collected litter.

Volunteers included Jim Burrows, Burien Councilmember Rose Clark, Dan Cosgrove, Dave Evans, Normandy Park Councilmember George Hadley, Ron Johanson, Kandra Miller, Merry Ann Peterson, Kim Schulze, and Normandy Park Park Commissioner Ernie Thompson.  Thank you all!

Photo of people working in forest next to wetland.
The volunteers get to work removing Himalayan blackberry from around the edge of the Walker Wetland on March 21.  The bulk of the wetland is beyond the upper left of the picture.  This type of stewardship work is scheduled for the spring when there is little foliage on the native trees and shrubs, making it easier to located the blackberry.

Photo of people digging next to a stream.
Volunteers working along S. 176th St. on March 21.  Photo looks north into wetland.  The stream flowing into the wetland drains the area from S. 17th St. down to Des Moines Memorial Drive where it wraps east toward SR509.  The wetland helps to filter the water in the stream as it flows toward Walker Creek proper, which drains from the northwest corner of the wetland.

Date: March 14, 2009
Location: Village at Miller's Creek development between Ambaum Blvd. and First Ave. S. in Burien
Source: Dennis Clark, Basin Steward
Observation: Miller Creek has some new friends taking caring of it.  On Saturday, 15 volunteers who live at the Village at Miller's Creek development braved soggy conditions to clear English ivy from the base of trees in their green space.  As the name of the recently-completed development suggests, these homeowners live along Miller Creek, which winds through their property between Ambaum and First Ave. S.

Saving mature native trees by removing ivy that is climbing up them is an immediate priority for creek stewardship.  Just a month and half ago, the property owner immediately upstream removed ivy from dozens of her trees.  The Village at Miller's Creek volunteers learned that ivy removal work is straightforward and satisfying -- if a bit wet during a late winter rain.

For most of the volunteers, it was their first time in the buffer along the stream.  The vegetation buffer was required under the city's critical areas ordinance and it provides many benefits to residents including:

  • Views of (mostly) native trees and shrubs
  • Privacy
  • Sound absorption
  • Lower temperatures during hot summer days
  • Home for birds and wildlife
  • An uncommon amenity in the form of a salmon-bearing stream

By taking care of their own private property, however, the Village at Miller's Creek owners also are helping to care for a community resource.  Preserving and improving the health of streamside vegetation will improve water quality and habitat for the salmon and trout that live in Miller Creek.  People upstream and downstream will benefit from their stewardship actions.

To help make it a fun event, the homeowners' association Board provided hot drinks and snacks to get people fueled for the day.  Special thanks to Shawn Brame who took the lead for the association in organizing this event.

The community plans to do further ivy removal on the south side of the stream later this year.  In the fall, I will work with them to plant more native trees in the buffer to replace trees that will die naturally in the years ahead.

Photo of 15 persons standing in front a split rail fence with trees in the background.
Volunteers from the Village on Miller's Creek development before they started work.  They weren't nearly as clean and dry when they finished two hours later!

Photo of people removing ivy from the trunks of trees.
The volunteers get to work cutting ivy vines from the bottom of the tree trunks and pulling the ivy away from the base of the trees.

Photo of two people standing next to a tree.
Volunteers Susie and Randy stand by a tree that has been cleared of ivy.  The cut ivy vines can be seen hanging down at the top of the photo.  The cut ivy will wither and die but the tree -- a Douglas fir -- will thrive.

Date: January 31, 2009
Location: Ambaum Blvd. at S. 163rd Place in Burien
Source: Dennis Clark, Basin Steward
Observation: Sometimes it seems like English ivy is everywhere and nothing can be done about it.  But ivy can be controlled when people recognize that it is a problem and roll up their sleeves to fight it.

Recently I contacted Karleen Kennedy, who owns a substantial stretch of Miller Creek just east of Ambaum Blvd. in Burien.  We walked her property and identified about 50 mature native trees -- cottonwoods, alders, and conifers -- where ivy had climbed up the trunks and was threatening their health.  Serious damage was becoming evident -- several trees covered in ivy had already toppled, likely due to the weight and "sail area" of the ivy making them vulnerable to high winds.  In addition to enhancing the value of the property, native trees provide shade, insects, and organic debris to Miller Creek.  Their preservation is important to the health of the entire stream basin and its fish.

Recognizing the threat from ivy, Karleen quickly arranged for a crew to work with me to control it.  On Saturday, we began removing the ivy from the base of the trees.  Using hand saws and screwdrivers, we cut and pried off the thick ivy vines at the base of the trunk.  This will kill the ivy  in the tree.  As the vines die, they will gradually fall off the tree, giving the tree greater access to sun and reducing the weight and "sail area" of the ivy.

Karleen is another citizen who, by controlling ivy on her property, is saving an urban forest and protecting Miller Creek.  Thank you!

Photo of trees covered in ivy
Ivy has covered nearly the entire height of these trees along Miller Creek where Ambaum Blvd. crosses it in Burien. If nothing were done, the ivy would prematurely kill these trees.

Photo of trees covered in ivy
Another view of how ivy can overwhelm trees.  The clump of lighter-colored vegetation on the ground in the center of the photo is the top 10 feet of one of the tree's main trunk -- covered to the tip by ivy and probably snapped off in a recent storm.

Photo of trees where ivy has been cut from the bottom of the trunk
This tree has been saved!  Ivy vines were cut off and removed from the bottom of the trunk.  The ivy on the ground was pulled back from the base of the tree so it won't immediately start climbing back up the tree.  On-going control of ivy will be required in future years but will not take a lot of time if done regularly.

Date: January 17, 2009
Location: Southwest Suburban Sewer District plant (external link) in Normandy Park
Source: Dennis Clark, Basin Steward
Observation: Today was an exciting day for about 20 volunteers from Trout Unlimited - Duwamish/Green Chapter (external link) and the broader community.  It was also an exciting day for 71,000 coho salmon that found a new home in Miller and Walker Creeks!

Like last year, coho eggs had been transferred in December from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife hatchery on Soos Creek to the Trout Unlimited hatchery on the grounds of the sewer plant in Normandy Park.  For several weeks, trays of eggs were constantly bathed in 55 degree F well water.  Gradually the eggs developed into alevins and "buttoned up" by absorbing their yolk sacks.  Just when they finished "buttoning up" and when ready to begin finding their own food, they were outplanted to streams throughout the Highline area.

Thanks to the efforts of the volunteers, Miller Creek became home to:

  • 22,100 fish at four locations in Burien
  • 3,400 fish at one location in SeaTac
  • 8,500 fish at three locations in Normandy Park

Walker Creek is now home to:

  • 20,400 fish at four locations in Burien
  • 15,000  fish at three locations in Normandy Park

Most of these fish will -- to be blunt -- die soon.  These streams are a hard place to make a living when you're an inch and a half long.  You're vulnerable to stormwater surges that will wash you downstream.  Polluted stormwater can poison you.  Predators such as great blue herons will snack on you.  You may not find enough food to survive.  But the initial large numbers mean some will survive their first 12-16 months spent in the streams and ponds.  Those that do survive will head out to Puget Sound and the Pacific Ocean some time in 2010.  And of those, a small percentage will survive to return to the creeks in 2012 or 2013.

The coho outplanting program is a partnership between the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (external link) and Trout Unlimited.  Volunteers such as Russ Welker and John Muramatsu visit the hatchery every day to pluck diseased eggs and fry from the trays to ensure the health of the others.  The project also is supported by the Southwest Suburban Sewer District (external link), which provides space for the hatchery building and well water.  And the ultimate success of the program depends on members of the community working to improve water quality and habitat in the streams.  It truly takes a village to raise a fish!

Photo of people with ice chests and buckets lined up outside small building
Some of the 20 volunteers from Trout Unlimited and the community lining up with their buckets and ice chests to collect thousands of coho fry from the hatchery.

Photo of man lifting a tray filled with small fish
Russ Welker, who manages the Trout Unlimited hatchery, pulls a tray containing 3,400 coho fry.  The stacked trays are constantly incubated in clean well-water.  The water is warmer than that of the streams, which causes the fry to grow faster than their wild counterparts.

Photo of small fish being poured from a tray into an ice chest filled with water
Here the tray of fry is dumped into an ice chest filled with water.  Next the coho will go for the second and final drive of their lives to their outplant location (the first drive was from the Soos Creek hatchery near Auburn to Normandy Park).

Photo of thousands of small fish in an ice chest about to be poured into a stream
This is what 6,800 coho fry look like in an ice chest.  Needless to say, we didn't try to get them all to face the camera.

Photos of man pouring thousands of small fish out of an ice chest into a stream
Basin Steward Dennis Clark gently pours the coho fry into Miller Creek at First Ave. S. in Normandy Park.  Helping Dennis was Marion Yoshino, Normandy Park City Council member (external link), perched on the rocks behind the ice chest.

Picture of small fry lying on sandy shore of a stream
Immediately after being poured into the water, the fry begin to move around the stream.  Some gravitate toward the banks and clump next to rocks.  After becoming acclimated, they will spread out and begin learning how to survive in the big outdoors.  Good luck, little guys!

Date: January 16, 2009
Location: n/a
Source: Dennis Clark, Basin Steward
Observation: Today I added two new resources to the website.  Both reflect a tremendous amount of work by volunteers.

  • Miller Creek - Fish/Habitat Relationships: Measures, Analysis and Report (Adobe Acrobat)
    In 1993 and again in 2008, volunteers from Trout Unlimited and the Stewards of the Cove measured the stream channel of Miller Creek. This report by Andy Batcho explains the measuring process, summarizes the data, and offers analysis of how well the stream meets the needs of salmon.
  • Chronicle of Miller/Walker Creek Events Affecting Stream Ecology and Fish Populations (Adobe Acrobat)
    This narrative records significant events affecting the ecology and fish populations in Miller and Walker Creeks.  Recording these events as they occur is intended to:

    • Record progress and setbacks in restoring the creeks and the surrounding watersheds
    • Help identify factors affecting adult fish populations (for example, floods during the incubation period for a year-class affecting the number of outmigrants, which in turn affects the number of adults returning in future years)

Date: January 6, 2009
Location: Throughout Miller/Walker Creeks basin in Burien and Normandy Park
Source: Dennis Clark, Basin Steward
Observation: Today five us collected water quality samples across the basin as part of an innovative program called Sound Citizen. This University of Washington program relies on samples collected by people across Puget Sound.  The samples are then analyzed for the presence of kitchen spices such as cinnamon, vanilla, and allspice.  These spices help to identify connections between our households and the water in our lakes, streams, rivers, and marine waters of Puget Sound.

Kevin Alexander, Tony Cassarino, Dave Evans, Normandy Park Councilmember George Hadley, and I collected samples at eight locations: six on Miller Creek and two on Walker Creek.  After collecting the samples in small plastic containers, we used "dip strips" like those used in a home aquarium to test for nitrate, nitrite, ammonia, hardness, alkalinity, and pH.  I then collected everyone's samples and delivered them to the student scientists at the UW.  The UW students will next analyze the samples for the presence of spices.  When the results are available, I'll post them here on the blog.  (June 1, 2009: While specific results for Miller and Walker Creeks are not available, aggregate results from the Sound Sampling program are available on-line.)

Photo of man collecting water in small container from stream in forest.
Basin Steward Dennis Clark collects a water quality sample from a tributary to Miller Creek at Kiwanis Schoenwald Park in Normandy Park on January 6. Photo courtesy of George Hadley.

Photo of two people around a table testing a water sample
Tony Cassarino (left) and Basin Steward Dennis Clark use a "dip strip" to measure the pH, nitrates, nitrites, and other parameters of a sample collected from Miller Creek on January 6, 2009. Photo courtesy of George Hadley.

Stewardship of the Miller/Walker Creeks basin is jointly funded by the City of Burien, City of Normandy Park, City of SeaTac, King County, and the Port of Seattle. On behalf of the partners, this page is proudly hosted by King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks - Water and Land Resources Division.