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Giving Salmon a Break – Mapes Creek Project

Mapes_CreekA newly-restored creek mouth in south Seattle creates a much-needed rest stop for young Chinook salmon along the Lake Washington shoreline.

Young salmon need shallow shorelines and small creek mouths where they can eat and rest as they migrate from the Cedar River to Puget Sound through Lake Washington. But over the years, many creeks have vanished or been directed into drainage pipes. Shorelines have been armored with rock and concrete, leaving salmon looking for a place to take a break.

In 2014, the City of Seattle brought 440 feet of Mapes Creek to the surface from a storm pipe where it had been buried for decades, created a new stream mouth delta, and enhanced the shoreline. The result is the type of rest stop young Chinook are looking for.

The multi-purpose project, which won a 2015 Green Globe award from King County, also brought new walkways and a pedestrian bridge, art, native plantings, and better drainage to one of Seattle’s most diverse and historically underserved neighborhoods. Grant funds from the Salmon Recovery Funding Board and Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration Fund, allocated by the Lake Washington/Cedar/Sammamish (WRIA 8) Salmon Recovery Council and the King Conservation District helped make the project possible.

Rainier Beach residents and visitors, including a bald eagle, already are enjoying the beauty and refuge the park provides.