King County Council protects Issaquah Creek salmon habitat
May 31, 2011
By Warren Kagarise
Critical salmon habitat in the Issaquah Creek Basin is protected for the next half-century — and possibly longer — due to a King County Council decision.
The council members approved a 50-year lease agreement May 16 for 30 acres along Holder Creek and near Carey Creek — tributaries of Issaquah Creek. The wedge-shaped property is along Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast, about a mile north of the state Route 18 interchange.
The legislation authorized County Executive Dow Constantine to lease the land from the state Department of Natural Resources at no cost.
“The Carey Creek and Holder Creek tributaries that feed into Issaquah Creek have exceptional salmon habitat, so we want to protect as much of the system as possible by making sure that these parcels are not developed over time and that we have a chance to restore them as appropriate,” Councilman Larry Phillips said.
The property contains forested and cleared areas. The state allows a nearby landowner’s cattle and horses to graze on the land.
The land is considered by the Puget Sound Salmon Recovery Plan as home to some of the best remaining habitat in the Lake Washington, Cedar River and Lake Sammamish watershed. The creek basin supports chinook, coho and kokanee salmon, plus steelhead trout.
Councilwoman Kathy Lambert, the Issaquah representative, applauded the long-term lease agreement. The county could someday extend the lease or buy the land outright.
“This project protects critical aquatic and spawning habitat for the chinook salmon along 2,200 feet of the creek,” she said.
The property also serves as a link in the wildlife corridor between Tiger Mountain State Forest and Squak Mountain State Park, and as a buffer for nearby Seattle watershed.
“It’s important for us to have clean water and more buffers,” Lambert said.
The county singled out Carey Creek and Holder Creek tributaries as exceptional salmon habitat due to the quality of fisheries habitat and the land’s undeveloped character.
The land is “another critical link in our effort to protect Issaquah Creek and the basin, and support our chinook, coho and kokanee restoration,” Phillips said.
Department of Natural Resources officials identified the parcel as appropriate for alternative management through the Trust Land Transfer Program. Through the program, land can be transferred or leased to other public entities — such as local governments — in a better position to manage the lands for appropriate public purposes, such as fisheries protection or open space.
The county is able to use the property for fish and wildlife habitat, open space or recreation, or any combination.
Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.