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Restoration plan in works for south fork of Dogfish Creek

The south fork of Dogfish Creek runs through Centennial Park near the Poulsbo Village. - Jennifer Morris/Staff Photo
The south fork of Dogfish Creek runs through Centennial Park near the Poulsbo Village.
— image credit: Jennifer Morris/Staff Photo

POULSBO — The presence freshwater mussels in Dogfish Creek is a good sign to the city of Poulsbo.

The mussel habitat indicates clean water and suggests a salmon habitat in the stream, according to a study of the south fork of Dogfish Creek commissioned by Poulsbo's Public Works Department.

The study could be the basis for an official stream restoration plan if it's adopted by the City Council next month.

The city is looking for ways to reduce urban flooding in the south fork area, as well as improve stream water quality and restore the stream bed and surrounding land habitats.

Efforts, if approved, could vary in price and scope from educational signage near the stream to floodplain repairs, replacement of a failing culvert and new Low Impact Development stormwater installments.

Ninety percent of the stream's 706-acre subbasin is within city limits, giving the city some major footing for restoration efforts.

"There really are wonderful opportunities here," said project manager and wetland biologist Torrey Luiting of ICF International, the contractor hired to complete the study.

Luiting said the stream's potential health and the city's jurisdiction over so much of its subbasin made her hopeful for restoration.

"Not a lot of communities have that," she said.

The south fork begins near Caldart Avenue and runs through Wilderness and Centennial parks before flowing along a portion of State Route 305. It passes behind the current Public Works building, where a failing culvert often causes flooding after heavy rains, and carves its way alongside the Poulsbo Village, a thin ribbon between a shopping center and a busy highway.

Sixty-five percent of its subbasin has been developed, and 38 percent of it is impervious, meaning the ground can't absorb rainfall. Rainfall instead flows into the creek and quickly increases its flow, which also leads to flooding.

Parks, vacant lots and open space account for about 250 acres of the subbasin, according to the study.

Coho, chum, cutthroat and steelhead have previously been documented in the south fork, and the Suquamish Tribe has released salmon into it in the past.

The study found the storm drainage treatment in the stream's subbasin severely lacking compared to standards introduced in 2005, and identified fecal coliform in the water.

Because of the Western Pearlshell mussels, and because most of the stream's culverts operate well and much of its undeveloped surroundings are in good condition, the city could likely acquire grant funding for restoration, the study said.

Some projects could happen shortly after adoption of the plan, while others would take time to formulate, said city project assistant Ryan Farncomb. All will depend on available funding.

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