Construction work to restore fish and wildlife habitat on more than 16 acres of a former golf course is underway as part of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and City of Mountlake Terrace partnership.
The Lake Ballinger Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Project will restore wetlands, riparian corridors, and create more places for birds, fish, turtles, salamanders, and native mammals to live. USACE hosted a groundbreaking ceremony May 30 at the site.
“I couldn’t be prouder about the Corps getting the opportunity to invest federal resources and capabilities toward a project that’ll have an outsized impact on the community and our children,” said Colonel Alexander “Xander” Bullock, USACE Seattle District commander. “Ten years from now, they’ll appreciate the park they walk through, the animals, amphibians, and the cleaner water that runs to the city through this newly formed riparian area.”
The city received USACE’s technical assistance under Section 206 of the Continuing Activities Program (CAP), which authorizes it to plan, design, and construct small scale projects under existing program authorities from Congress.
The $5.5 million construction contract, of which $3.4 million came from Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) funding that President Joseph R. Biden signed into law in November 2021, will take less than a year to complete. Heavy construction has started and will run through spring 2024.
Residents may see heavy equipment trucks driving along the north end of the park, and several construction trucks transporting native plants around the creek for planting in the area.
“The number of places animals can call home is shrinking,” said Laura Reed, stormwater program manager managing the project for the City of Mountlake Terrace. “This project switches up that dynamic and provides more homes for these creatures. Five years from now, this park will be full of birdsong, the creek will have otters and maybe even salmon. It will be a place to experience nature right here in the neighborhood, a place where the sounds of the city will fade away.”
Additional project components include creating a wetted creek channel, removing invasive plants, installing diverse plants, replacing a vehicle crossing and adding a pedestrian boardwalk to provide access to people and limit damage to plants and wetland soils. Minor enhancements to pond habitat are also planned.
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Learn more about USACE projects in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Work Plan here.