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Environment News October 08, 2023

PUD Works with Community Partners to Remove Problematic Bridge  

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PUD Works with Community Partners to Remove Problematic Bridge  

During the first two weeks of September, crews managed by the Adopt A Stream Foundation worked furiously to remove a creosote railroad bridge that had been installed crossing Woods Creek in 1939. Over the years, the long-abandoned bridge had posed a problem for returning salmon. Due to the efforts of a multitude of agencies, including the PUD, the bridge has been removed and the area has been enhanced with engineered log jams that will further enhance salmon habitat.

“Creating access to more habitat will assist in more salmon returning upstream towards the PUD’s hydroelectric project areas,” said Dawn Presler, Sr. Environmental Coordinator.

The Woods Creek Railroad Trestle, located in east Monroe, had been a source of water pollution since 1939 and a barrier to salmon migration. During higher flow events, woody material from the upper watershed would collect on the “legs” of the trestle.  The accumulation of material would disrupt natural processes as wood and sediment were transported and the material built up, salmon would find it very difficult to move upstream especially during low flow conditions.

The bridge had also been a long-time maintenance headache for its co-owners, Burlington Northern Santa-Fe (BNSF) Railroad and Snohomish County Parks, as well as a “social headache” for the City of Monroe as the trestle was used as a dangerous footbridge crossing to Al Borlin Park.

“Removing the bridge was a major win for all of the agencies involved, for the salmon, and for water quality in Woods Creek,” said Keith Binkley, Manager Natural Resources. “The benefits extend beyond Woods Creek and supporting this project was in alignment with the PUD’s values and our environmental commitment.”

The project was the culmination of several years of effort by the Adopt A Stream Foundation to secure permits and funding. The preliminary and final designs were funded by WA State Salmon Recovery Funds administered by the Recreation Conservation Office (RCO); designs were then used to secure Federal/State Permits; the majority of the “finish work” funds came from a National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Restoration Grant to Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife to Snohomish County Surface Water Management to Adopt A Stream Foundation, and the PUD provided funds towards the installation of seven  engineered log jams.

The project was one of 11 salmon benefiting projects in Washington State that received grant funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act. The funds came through  NOAA and were awarded to the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

In turn, WDFW issued sub-awards to other parties including Snohomish County Surface Water Management (SWM).  Then SWM issued a sub-award to the Adopt A Stream Foundation to remove the Woods Creek trestle. The PUD added its support to purchase logs that were turned into in-stream fish habitat structures.  BNSF and Snohomish County Parks have right of way ownership of the trestle and provided clearance for its removal.

This fall and winter months, the Adopt A Stream Foundation will be restoring the forested riparian area, adjacent to the stream, where the bridge abutments were located now completing the fish habitat restoration effort.  Monitoring will continue for the next three years.