Good News on Bear Creek Realignment
A project spanning many years is restoring wildlife habitat in Redmond’s Bear Creek.
By Tim McGruder
Work being done near Redmond Town Center to realign Bear Creek may result in better bird and wildlife habitat. EAS member Sharon Cormier-Aagaard has been performing bird surveys of this section of the creek since before restoration efforts began. Her records may help future analysis of the success of the realignment and restoration.
A History of Realignments
The lower section of Bear Creek had been diverted many times in the past for the convenience of various construction projects. In the 1980s it was moved to the north to make way for Highway 520 construction.
Salmon and other fish that spawn in Bear Creek and Little Bear Creek suffered as a result because of degradation of their habitat.
More recently, plans to widen Highway 520 would have brought the roadway to within 10 feet of the creek, much closer than the Washington State standard of 150 feet. Department of Transportation planners realized that Bear Creek would need to be realigned once more, but this time it would need to be done right.
Ultimately $11.5 million was spent on the project, which promises much better conditions for fish, birds, and wildlife.
Photo: Belted Kingfisher, by Mick Thompson
The project included the addition of new side channels for small fish and was completed in time for returning fall Chinook salmon.
Thousands of native plants and trees also are settling into their new home on the banks of the creek. It may be some time before the new vegetation is established well enough to know the full story of how the upland habitat will perform.
Water Tenders, a local advocacy group that has followed the project from its inception, provides an encouraging description of the restoration in the organization's newsletter. Kudos to all who participated in this amazing effort!