Madrona Park Creek now flows from its headwater springs in Madrona Park Ravine approximately a quarter-mile through a ravine on the Spring Street edge of Madrona Woods into a wetland cove newly carved into the lake shore in Madrona Park. Back in 2007, the stream flowed above ground for only very short stretches in both the upper and lower ravines before disappearing into storm drains. Now, the Creek has been ‘daylighted,’ that is, brought above ground. The resulting stream runs through the Spring Street Ravine to a pond on the west side of Lake Washington Boulevard. Through a fish-passable culvert under the Boulevard and a series of ponds and fish-passable steps in the stream it meanders its way down to the new cove.
Salmon are likely to find Madrona Park Creek too small for spawning, but their young can rest under sheltering shrubs in the quiet cove or the small pools and feed on the nutrients brought down by the stream before continuing on their way up Lake Washington and out to the Sound in May and June. This restoration will also offer human visitors a chance to observe plants and animals in an ecosystem much like what would have been here 200 years ago.
Though plans were approved in 2000, The Friends took their first step in making this daylighting project a reality in the summer of 2003. They applied for, and received, a City of Seattle Neighborhood Matching Fund grant for $6,300 to do a survey to get the project started. The match was provided by approximately 375 hours volunteered by adults and school children. A $16,000 grant from the Starflower Foundation funded conceptual design of the project, which was completed in 2003.
With almost-final plans in hand and the survey completed, the next step was applying for a King County Water Works grant for $60,000 to complete construction documents, get permits and cover a portion of the construction costs. The Friends received this grant in the fall of 2004 and during the next two years finalized plans, got permits from City, County and federal agencies, did further surveying and testing, and went through Parks Department technical reviews.
They also did extensive fundraising, obtaining grants from The City of Seattle Aquatic Habitat Matching Grant program and the Department of Neighborhoods, King County, King Conservation District, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, FishAmerica Foundation, and Seattle Garden Club.
The process required by the various governmental agencies involved was more extensive and progressed more slowly than originally anticipated and funding took longer than expected. Therefore, construction that was originally planned to take place in 2006-2007 was begun in the spring of 2007, when the contractor Pacific Earth Works first brought in heavy equipment. It wasn’t completed until January 2009 with the construction of the final bridge. The project includes one small and two large bridges in the park and lower ravine and a viewing area in the upper ravine. The area all along the stream and cove has now been re-vegetated with native plants by volunteers.
Community support for the daylighting program has been impressive. As the result of two community meetings attended by nearly 100 neighbors and two direct mail appeals which raised nearly $40,000, Madrona has shown that it cares about Madrona Woods and supports the projects of Friends of Madrona Woods. King County officials, including Larry Gossett, have given tremendous support as well. Other in-kind donations, including legal and environmental consultations, amount to $50,000 or more.
The Madrona Park Creek project is important for several reasons. It is the first example in Seattle of reconnecting a complete creek to Lake Washington. The fresh water and protected cove are expected to provide significant habitat improvements for salmon. And, the project has been a truly collaborative team effort by Madrona residents and city, county, and federal agencies with common restoration goals.