SEATTLE – Officials from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle District, awarded a contract on the eve of the 2014 Fiscal New Year to partner with the City of Auburn on a joint ecosystem restoration project on the Green/Duwamish River at Mill Creek in Auburn, Wash.
For more than 100 years, the Green/Duwamish River watershed was altered in a way that degraded its ability to provide clean, productive habitat for fish and wildlife. The Green/Duwamish River Ecosystem Restoration Project is a comprehensive restoration program for the entire watershed, spanning the tidal estuaries to the spawning and wildlife habitat areas in the upper basin. Mill Creek is a tributary to the Green River.
“The Corps does not design and construct these projects in isolation,” said Col. John Buck, USACE Seattle District commander. “We rely on feedback from resource agencies, tribal entities, and citizens to ensure their success. Additionally, we rely on our partnership with our sponsors; they not only provide time, energy, and real estate, but they also share costs necessary to design and construct these projects. Without them there would be no Green/Duwamish ecosystem restoration projects such as the Mill Creek Project.”
The Mill Creek Project spans more than a mile of the creek in the City of Auburn, extending from just downstream of the stream crossing at State Route 18 to the stream crossing at State Route 167. A large portion of the restoration project is located within the City's Auburn Environmental Park.
The project will provide multiple benefits, including: removal of existing noxious weeds, re-vegetation of nearly 25 acres of the Mill Creek basin with native trees and plants, the creation and enhancement of habitat for salmon and other aquatic wildlife, increased stream channel and culvert conveyance capacity within the reach, and the creation of additional flood storage areas that will help to reduce downstream flooding during periods of high stream flow.
"This project is a good example of how government agencies and community stakeholders can work together to achieve a win-win project," says Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus. "In this case, we are helping with regional salmon recovery effort in Auburn and at the same time decreasing flood risk experienced by neighboring and downstream properties during the wet winter months."
The City of Auburn is the local (non-federal) sponsor for the project. Auburn has worked with other state and regional organizations to assemble the local cost share funding for the project, including the WRIA-9 Forum, the King Conservation District and the King County Flood Control District who provided funding assistance for the City's project design cost share, and the Washington Department of Ecology, which provided State floodplain management grant funding to assist with City costs for project real estate acquisition and construction.
"The City has worked with the Army Corps and our non-federal partners for a number of years to get to this point," said Auburn Environmental Services Manager Chris Andersen. "We had to work through a series of pretty complex issues related to the real estate, design and budget. Now we have the land, approved design and funding it's time to get the project constructed."
Project construction is scheduled to begin later this year and be complete in late 2016.