What Policy and Implementation Factors Drive the Variability in Protection and Enhancement of the North Creek Stream Corridor Within Snohomish and King County Washington?
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Twenty years after Washington State's Salmon Recovery Act, the Puget Sound Chinook population continues to decline and is in danger of extinction. Washington State and the federal government has invested over 350 million dollars in the Puget Sound region restoring Chinook habitat impacted by growth and development, inclusive of purchasing conservation easements and land acquisition. While the efforts over the past two decades have made many improvements to the Chinook habitats, there are still fish barriers and degraded habitats that need to be identified by local government and private landowner sponsors. In 2005, public outreach identified a significant barrier along the North Creek Regional Trail where the North Creek stream flows through a 140-acre privately owned business park (Reach 5) located in the lower portion of the watershed where leveed shorelines constrain the stream, floodplains and associated wetlands within the jurisdiction of the City of Bothell, King County, Washington. This research focused on possible constraints posed by the leveed shoreline, existing local government policy, as well as options available to initiate the necessary restoration project. Findings revealed that the Army Corps of Engineers requires removal of invasive species to facilitate inspection, maintenance operations and the integrity of leveed shorelines. Existing local policy advocates for protection, restoration and enhancement of all shorelines and associated wetlands, but only apply to publicly owned lands and new developments seeking permits. Policy does however, require local government to work with a private landowner and find ways to restore identified critical habitat through funding programs, tax breaks, or other motivating incentives. viii A R&E project is vital to restoring critical area habitat in Reach 5 to eliminate barriers to Puget Sound Chinook and other migratory fish species, connect two high quality COB protected habitats, as well as provide access to restored critical habitat upstream performed by other local jurisdictions along the North Creek watershed. Recommendations are for COB to take action toward land acquisition making the wetlands publicly owned lands and protected into perpetuity. Alternatively, COB can work the R&E project through the landowner. Regardless of the option chosen, COB should initiate development of a project proposal and submit to SRFB for technical assistance and funding, USACE for a Section 404 permit, Ecology for a Section 401 Certification and WDFW for an HPA permit to move an R&E project forward in Reach 5.
- MA in Policy Studies