A Wet Day in the Wetlands at Silverdale’s Clear Creek Trail

by Deborah Kidd, Marketing Manager

On a wet northwestern day, it seemed right to embrace the weather and head to the wetlands. Washington was well into the spring season, so you might get away with calling nearly every landscape a wet land… But this was a wetland of the official sort, marshes and meadows saturated with water on most days, and especially rainy ones like this.

 Photo by Deborah Kidd.

Photo by Deborah Kidd.

The Clear Creek wetland in Silverdale, WA, had lost its natural identity over years past, however. Once a productive salmon stream, Clear Creek was ditched and diverted to support early settlers’ farms. A major effort led by Kitsap County (and funded through our Floodplains by Design partnership) is now restoring the wetland’s natural features while maintaining the community’s access to this getaway near the bustle of the city’s commerce center. A low, wooden boardwalk threads through the floodplain, and it protected our sneakers from mud and marsh as our leisurely walk brought an unexpected lesson in nature, history, and community conservation.

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Peeking out from the horizon, the highway was nearby but barely visible, and every so often we would hear the whisper of cars and trucks passing. Another bend brought us alongside a dog park and an apartment community. Still other perspectives tricked the mind, and we found ourselves suddenly, completely surrounded by trees on the verge of bloom and woody debris sheltering salmon habitats in meandering rivulets. We were at once in the suburbs and simultaneously immersed in the natural world.

 A giraffe in Western Washington? Photo by Deborah Kidd.

A giraffe in Western Washington? Photo by Deborah Kidd.

We searched for critters, but apart from a few far-off ducks, alas, only a random giraffe appeared. Native authenticity aside, it was a welcome distraction for my rain-soaked toddler! We often rely on geocaches or silly landmarks like our friend the giraffe to power her through a light hike. And this day, we came across yet another treasure. Grandpa spotted a painted pebble courtesy of Kitsap Rocks, a community group that paints and plants rocks in parks around the county with the aim to get residents out in nature. We celebrated then snatched up our find, and proceeded to search for suitable river rocks of our own to paint and hide for future seekers.

 Another non-native treasure, but still a welcome distraction for a busy kid! Photo by Deborah Kidd.

Another non-native treasure, but still a welcome distraction for a busy kid! Photo by Deborah Kidd.

Later that afternoon, warmed up and dried off, I put the creek in my rear-view mirror as I headed into downtown Silverdale for weekend errands. Bucklin Hill road brought me to my destination by way of a span across Clear Creek. Beneath me were restored culverts that allow salmon better passage. Even in the midst of my weekend to-dos, I was heartened and comforted to know that nature was still very much nearby.

Banner photo credit: Washigal57 via Flickr