upper carlson

Partnership celebrates completion of major Snoqualmie River habitat restoration project


Work in King County Fall City Natural Area reconnects forested floodplain to river, maintains flood protection for nearby homes and roads

Written by Robin Stanton, Media Relations Manager
Photographed by (1-5) Robin Stanton; and (6-7) King County

Opportunities don’t come along very often to reconnect a river to dozens of acres of floodplain and dramatically restore fish and wildlife habitat, while maintaining flood protection for nearby homes and roads.

King County’s Upper Carlson Floodplain Restoration project along the Snoqualmie River near Fall City is just such an opportunity – and a broad coalition of local, state, tribal and federal governments and organizations came together this week to celebrate completion of this complex, multi-year effort.

The work was done on King County’s Fall City Natural Area – a 50-acre forested floodplain that historically contained the Snoqualmie River’s main stem. The project included removing roughly 1,600 linear feet of aging levee that constrained the river to an unnaturally narrow channel.

With the old levee gone, wintertime flooding brought fresh flows across much of the newly reconnected floodplain, and widened the river channel by approximately 40 feet. As these natural processes are restored, gravel bars and log jams will form, providing additional salmon habitat.

Some funding for this project came from Legislature in 2013 through the Floodplains By Design program sponsored by The Nature Conservancy.

To maintain protection for nearby homes, roads and fertile farmland, project managers designed and installed log structures and a new 850-foot-long rock structure at the lower end of the site to provide additional protection where the river is most likely to migrate.

King County acquired the Fall City Natural Area with funding from the Conservation Futures Levy and Salmon Recovery Funding Board, for preserving and restoring critical salmon habitat.

The site restoration work included invasive vegetation removal, and planting acres of native trees, to improve habitat for the birds, mammals, reptiles and other wildlife.

The $3.5 million project was funded by grants from:

  • Washington State Salmon Recovery Funding Board and Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration via Washington Recreation and Conservation Office and Puget Sound Partnership; 
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration via The Nature Conservancy; 
  • Coordinated Investment for Puget Sound Floodplains Initiative sponsored by The Nature Conservancy and administered by the Washington Department of Ecology; 
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency via the Snoqualmie Tribe; 
  • King County Flood Control District via Cooperative Watershed Management Grant; and 
  • King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks.

For more information, visit the project website, or contact Mary Maier at 206-477-4762 or mary.maier@kingcounty.gov.