Land Acquisition & Restoration

Efforts to acquire land for habitat protection in the Lower Cedar River began in 2003. View a map of protected lands in the Lower Cedar River. Once acquired, restoration activities are immediately undertaken. Activities include demolition of man-made improvements, invasive plant removal, soil amendment, and native plantings.

Guiding Principles

The following principles provide the basis for management of the Downstream Habitat Protection and Restoration Program, and for the project evaluation criteria that will be used for prioritizing and funding projects under this program.

  1. Projects should be linked to a vision for basin-wide salmon and salmon habitat recovery such as the WRIA 8 Recovery Plan, and complement other efforts throughout the basin to achieve that vision.
  2. Using existing knowledge of the relationships between habitat and fish production, implement a habitat program that could include land acquisition, restoration projects, and land management activities, that will improve factors believed to be limiting salmon production in the Cedar River.
  3. Emphasize protection of existing habitat as the principal program goal and utilize land acquisition as the primary tool for achieving that goal in an effort to protect the "last best places."
  4. Evaluate the effectiveness of other approaches to habitat protection besides land acquisition in order to increase the likelihood that future efforts to improve habitat conditions for salmon in the Cedar River are as successful as possible. These evaluations may be social, economic or biological, depending on need and opportunity. While recognizing that land acquisition is the primary component of this program, ensure that funding is allocated for non-land-acquisition approaches, such as habitat restoration and innovative land management, in order to provide opportunities for such evaluations.
  5. Strive to fund projects that support and complement current HCP-funded programs and research efforts and, conversely, seek out funding sources to provide monitoring for Downstream Habitat projects.

Biological considerations

Chinook spawning in the Cedar River

Chinook spawning in the Cedar River.

  1. Projects should address factors likely to be limiting production of salmon, including chinook.
  2. Prioritization should provide consideration for the level of impact that projects or actions are likely to have on salmon, especially chinook, coho, sockeye, and steelhead.
  3. Projects should be located primarily within the active flood plain of the mainstem of the Cedar River downstream of Landsburg Dam.

Project Evaluation Criteria
The following criteria will be used to evaluate potential projects for funding under the Downstream Habitat Program in conjunction with consideration of unique opportunities and varying circumstances.

Habitat benefit

  1. Complexity/Diversity - Project would acquire habitat that is characterized by the following:
    1. Channel conditions that provide spawning, rearing, or refuge habitat; an absence of confinement; unarmored banks, gravel erosion and deposition areas, an intact flood plain
    2. Riparian cover, overhanging vegetation, woody debris recruitment areas
    3. Forest cover within reach extends at least 200 feet from banks; absence of roads or structures; consists primarily of native riparian and upland plant community
  2. Connectivity - Intermittent or continual access within the mainstem channel and between the mainstem channel and adjacent water bodies that allow fish to access and utilize these areas for a part of their life history
  3. Contiguity - Adjacency or proximity to other protected habitats; adds to adjacent lands that were acquired for habitat protection and restoration purposes

Feasibility

  1. Landowner willingness - The probability that the landowner is willing to sell is high.
  2. Partnership opportunity - Funding for project is leveraged with matching funds from a non-City source.
  3. Degree of threat - salmon habitat could be significantly altered, threatened or harmed under current regulations (e.g., land could be cleared or developed)

Other benefits

  1. Achieves multiple HCP goals - Project supports or facilitates implementation of the HCP, such as:
    1. Compatibility with HCP flow commitments
    2. Complements and is coordinated with an HCP-funded research project that tests hypotheses related to natural salmon production in the Cedar River
    3. Provides broodstock collection opportunities
    4. Facilitates HCP-related construction by satisfying mitigation requirements
  2. Mitigation for water supply - Addresses impacts of SPU's pipeline facilities or associated easement
  3. Achieves WRIA 8 planning goals 
  4. Educational opportunity - provides potential educational opportunities
  5. Project scope and design - Project scope and design is consistent with current scientific knowledge, and is practical from a project management perspective; e.g., project is of sufficient scope and size that benefits exceed cost to administer, or restoration project does not include levees or revetments

As part of the ecosystem-based approach of the HCP, downstream habitat restoration activities are designed to provide more natural stream channel conditions downstream of Landsburg and in the Walsh Lake system. Protection and restoration of aquatic and riparian habitat in the lowlands of the Lake Washington basin below the Landsburg dam constitutes a critical element in regional salmonid recovery efforts.

In addition to restoring lands acquired by the City of Seattle under the HCP, this program also includes an ambitious program to eliminate the highly aggressive knotweed from the lower river. Learn more >.