City works to protect salmon habitat in Sycamore neighborhood

January 22, 2010

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 6 a.m. Jan. 22, 2010

The city will prevent development along a sliver of Issaquah Creek in the Sycamore neighborhood as part of a plan to restore salmon habitat.

City Council members discussed the deal in a closed-door executive session Monday, and then, during a public vote, authorized Mayor Ava Frisinger to buy a conservation easement along the creek.

Money from a state grant will be used to pay for the $32,000 easement on a narrow, 0.21-acre strip. The terms of the agreement will allow the city some limited, passive recreation use for the land, such as walking trails.

The purchase will come after city officials bought 1.9 acres of undeveloped land — spread across four properties — along Issaquah Creek last month in a move to restore salmon habitat. The land, also in the Sycamore neighborhood, is across the creek from Squak Valley Park North.

The cost for the land acquisition totaled $595,000 — including a $450,000 grant from the state Wildlife and Recreation Program Riparian Protection Account and a $250,000 grant from the state Salmon Recovery Funding Board. Money not used for land acquisition will be used for habitat restoration on the properties.

Another $712,000 has been secured for the restoration project, including a $320,000 King Conservation District grant.

Officials said the Squak Valley Park North restoration project — set to begin in the summer — will improve habitat within Issaquah Creek. Workers will also connect the waterway to its historical floodplain, by removing parts of a levee in the park that runs parallel to the creek. The levee was built in the 1930s.

About eight acres are targeted for habitat restoration. Officials will work with The Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust on the project. The organization will coordinate several volunteer events to plant thousands of native trees and shrubs.

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