Barrier to salmon
in Monroe coming down
Photo by Rich Patton of Snohomish County Parks
A drone photo of the unused railroad bridge on Woods Creek destined to be removed.
MONROE — In 1939, a creosote log railroad trestle bridge was installed crossing Woods Creek in east Monroe just downstream (south) from U.S. 2. Since then, that long-abandoned bridge has posed a problem for returning salmon, according to the nonprofit Adopt A Stream Foundation based at Everett’s McCollum Park.
The salmon barrier will be no more. Removal work was scheduled to begin this week, and restoration work comes after that.
The removal is important.
Woody material from the upper watershed collects on the “legs” of the trestle. As that material builds up, salmon find it very difficult to move upstream during low flow conditions.
“Upstream, there is excellent Chinook salmon and steelhead spawning and rearing habitat,” said Adopt A Stream Foundation’s (AASF) Salmon Habitat Restoration Manager Walter Rung. “Our stream team has been working for several years with streamside landowner upstream to improve that habitat”
In late August, AASF’s stream team examined the condition of the aquatic life up and downstream and under the trestle. That process will establish a base line for a three-year effort to monitor ecological changes that take place after the trestle is removed.
They were capturing, identifying and releasing aquatic live living on the bottom of the stream.
Creosote is toxic to aquatic life.
Adopt A Stream Ecologist Anna Gilmore expects to see greater abundance and diversity of aquatic insects, freshwater mussels, crayfish, and other bottom life upstream of the bridge.
The stream team will be using fine mesh nets during the collection process. Next, they will quickly sort, identify, and record species, and then, release the “critters” unharmed back into the stream. “I have done this many times during Streamkeeper Academy classes to show kids that there is a lot of life under streams, but this is the first time for a formal scientific study,” said technician Kelly Singleterry. Technician Mollie Brown added, “Who says science can’t be fun?”
The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) used habitat restoration funds from the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act to award a large grant to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) for 11 projects benefitting salmon including the Woods Creek Trestle Removal.
In turn, WDFW issued sub-awards to other parties including Snohomish County Surface Water Management (SWM). Then SWM issued a sub-award to the Adopt A Stream Foundation to remove the Woods Creek trestle. Also, the Snohomish County PUD added its support to AASF to purchase logs that will be turned into in-stream fish habitat structures. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad and Snohomish County Parks have right of way ownership of the trestle and, now, both have given the Adopt A Stream Foundation clearance for its removal.
AASF Director Tom Murdoch said: “It’s complicated. But after all of this time, another man-made barrier to salmon migration is going by the wayside. It will be great to see salmon and steelhead once again migrate freely up Woods Creek past where a railroad trestle used to be.”
As the trestle is demolished and removed, log fish habitat structures will be installed in the banks and extend into the stream.
During the fall and winter months, AASF will be restoring the forest area where the bridge abutments are located now completing the fish habitat restoration effort. Monitoring will continue for the next three years.
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