How we helped bring Salmon back to Lyon Creek
July 09, 2019

Beneath Lake Forest Park’s dense tree canopy and around its Town Center winds a once salmon-rich stream that runs into the northernmost part of Lake Washington.

Lyon Creek plays an important role in the life cycle of Pacific salmon, whose lives depend on migrating between freshwater and ocean-water to spawn.

File photo taken in King County shows an example of salmon swimming in a creek to spawn.

Sadly, some residents say it’s been a while since regularly seeing salmon in the creek near the Town Center.

While the original Town Center developers in 1964 may not have comprehended the negative impacts that would eventually occur as a result of their development, many faithful members of the community have dedicated themselves to salmon restoration.

Since Merlone Geier Partners (MGP) took ownership of the Town Center five years ago, we’ve worked with the City of Lake Forest Park, the Stewardship Foundation, and many others to reduce the risk of flooding at Lyon Creek while also enhancing the natural fish habitat. As a result, many people are now seeing something that hasn’t been observed in decades: salmon returning to the creek!

Lyon Creek Improvement Project

Lyon and McAleer creeks join near the shoreline of Lake Washington. This confluence area is potentially home to three federally listed species of salmonids — Chinook salmon, bull trout, and steelheads as well as Coho salmon.

Google map shows Lyon and McAleer creeks flowing into Lake Washington.

After eggs hatch in rivers and creeks that flow into Lake Washington, young salmon grow in the lake before making their run into Puget Sound — though in recent years, their survival is increasingly unlikely.

After King County and Washington State Department of Transportation granted funds for flood reduction, the City of Lake Forest Park redesigned and replaced culverts at the intersection of 35th Avenue NE and NE 185th Street. The new bridge over Lyon Creek gives 20 feet of clearance, compared to old culvert’s eight feet. Native plants and woody debris were installed to help struggling habitat in a half-mile of stream bed.

The 2015 replacement was a huge undertaking, as strategic planning involved protecting 20 homes, parts of the Town Center, and a fire station from serious flooding in the area. As one of the groups involved in this process, MGP worked with the City and other community groups to ensure the project was a success.

Just shy of three years since the project, the salmon are back! On June 3, a crowd gathered around the new bridge, counting at least 20 salmon swimming — a sight the community’s happy to see.

Photo taken on June 3 shows salmon swimming in Lyon Creek.

Town Center and Lyon Creek thriving together

As owners of the Town Center, we are dedicated to creating the best environment for all LFP residents, including salmon.

MGP shares the City of Lake Forest Park’s Vision for the Town Center  — placing an emphasis on preservation, enhancement, and beautification. If redevelopment were to occur at the Town Center, there would be significant improvements to water quality in the immediate vicinity based on new stormwater requirements.

We’re staying engaged in the City’s environmental review process, and we have some ideas for how to further improve the Town Center’s natural environment. To hear more about our plans come to see us at our Town Hall Meeting on July 17, 2019 at the Commons.