“In a lot of places the stream is just invisible,” said Carin Anderson, the Backyard Habitat Program Manager for the Kitsap Conservation District.
Anderson is talking about Strawberry Creek, which drains about five square miles of Kitsap County. The creek is surrounded by development, but still supports salmon populations that swim up to spawn each year—an important cultural resource. Every year, tribal members bless the salmon as they return from Puget Sound.
Jen Horne, who owns Seaport Salon and Spa in Old Town Silverdale, cares deeply about the creek. The channel passes across her property before emptying into Dyes Inlet. A few years ago, she decided that their little stretch of Strawberry Creek could use some help, and sent an application to restore the creek to Anderson’s program.
The Backyard Habitat Program funds about five stream projects per year, all designed to improve habitat and protect waterways in urban areas from pollution and erosion. The section of Strawberry Creek next to Seaport Salon was narrow and had no native vegetation to shade the water—just lawn and weeds along the banks.
Starting in September 2014, the restoration project widened the stream channel, planted native vegetation along both banks, and added root balls and wood for fish to use as shelter. The wood came from Horne’s property, and the salon also contributed funds to the project. Just a year and a half later, the creek looks lively and healthy, and many of the plants on the banks are sprouting tiny green leaves.
There’s an educational sign by the bank as well, so people walking by can read about the project and learn more about Strawberry Creek. Anderson said these projects help to raise awareness of urban waterways.
Creeks like this one are critical sources of habitat, not just for salmon, but for other creatures that depend on fresh water. But these small waterways are easily overwhelmed by pollution that runs off of parking lots and pavement or travels through storm drains. Flooding is also a problem. By raising the profile of Strawberry Creek and giving its salmon a better chance of survival, Seaport Salon and Clean Water Kitsap are protecting a vital piece of Puget Sound.
Seaport Salon contributes to Soundkeeper’s mission as part of AVEDA’s Earth Month, which raises funds for clean water worldwide.
Photos (1,2) Kitsap Conservation District (3,4) Puget Soundkeeper