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Restoring the Cedar River for People and Fish  

Thirty-five miles east of Seattle, deep in the Cascade Mountains, the Cedar River flows through the region’s protected watershed—the primary source of drinking water for 1.5 million people in the greater Seattle area.  

Downstream of the Cedar River Watershed, the Cedar River continues flowing and serving another critical purpose; the river is a natural habitat for salmon species and plays a vital role in sustaining healthy conditions for fish. 

Through the development and implementation of the Cedar River Watershed Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP), Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) has made critical investments to protect salmon habitat resources in the Cedar River for more than two decades.  

SPU’s latest investment is in partnership with the Water and Land Resources Division in King County’s Department of Natural Resources. The two agencies recently completed the Riverbend project, which improved hundreds of acres of Cedar River habitat. Project manager Brent Lackey has been leading the effort for SPU, and commented about the project, “A nearly mile-long segment of the Cedar River was restored to its more natural state, while simultaneously improving salmon habitat and reducing flood risks for people, homes, and infrastructure. “ 

Photo of Mayor Bruce Harrell speaking at the press event flanked by King County Executive Dow Constantine, and other officials at the Riverbend Project site.

At an Earth Week event to celebrate the completion of the project, Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell shared these remarks: 

“Ensuring a healthy environment in our waterways and natural areas is core to our responsibility as a city and regional leader. Our teams at Seattle Public Utilities have been critical in this effort to restore this natural area on the Cedar River and build resilience to the impacts of climate change, producing better outcomes for the salmon that travel downstream to Lake Washington and reducing flood risks to the surrounding communities.”  

As part of the the HCP, SPU continues down the path of investing in and stewarding river restoration activities that are designed to provide more natural stream channel conditions both within and outside of the Cedar River Municipal Watershed.