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Mitigation work nears completion on stretch of Dogfish Creek near SR 305

A highway sign is reflected in Dogfish Creek, which runs between State Route 305 and the Poulsbo Village shopping center. The creek was previously overgrown by vegetation. The Village commissioned mitigation work this fall, which created a healthier stream bed, including pooling with rocks and woody debris, shown above. - Jennifer Morris/Staff Photo
A highway sign is reflected in Dogfish Creek, which runs between State Route 305 and the Poulsbo Village shopping center. The creek was previously overgrown by vegetation. The Village commissioned mitigation work this fall, which created a healthier stream bed, including pooling with rocks and woody debris, shown above.
— image credit: Jennifer Morris/Staff Photo

POULSBO — Mitigation work on a 200-foot section of Dogfish Creek in the heart of Poulsbo is close to completion. Crews excavated overgrown foliage, created a healthier stream bed and planted a variety of trees along the creek between the Poulsbo Village and State Route 305.

The work was paid for by a $15,000 grant from the Department of Fish and Wildlife and a matching sum from the Poulsbo Village.

The effort joins recent movement to restore the creek's south fork. The City of Poulsbo recently developed a master plan for the south fork, which begins near Caldart Avenue and winds its way to Liberty Bay. It has shown several signs of being a healthy stream, including a freshwater mussel habitat that signifies a salmon population.

The recent mitigation work was overseen by Suquamish Tribe biologist Paul Dorn.

"Most of us look at the creek, thinking it is a ditch," said Dorn. "It is full of life. We found several dozen cutthroat, hundreds of juvenile brook lamprey, crawdads and a lot of aquatic insects.

"It is a productive small stream, that is now greatly improved with rock, wood and structure that makes the stream more productive, and mimics a more natural state."

Crews began excavating overgrown willow trees and removing blackberry on Sept. 27, said Village property manager Emily Nicholson. In years past those willows were simply cropped to keep a portion of the Village visible from the roadway, but that maintenance is now illegal. The trees kept the stream shaded, and became a place where many dumped trash, while homeless were known to sleep there.

"It really became a pollution and security problem," Nicholson said.

Large rocks and tree trunks were placed to create pooling in the creek, which was widened in some places to 10 or 12 feet. Conifers, spruces, maples, firs and salmonberry, among other vegetation, were planted along the creek's eastern edge. Their growth will be monitored for five years, Nicholson said.

The Village was forced to take on a similar project after Mitzel's burned down in 2007. The stream bed near the site of the fire, where Taprock now sits, was landscaped.

Unlike that project, the Village has done this mitigation work by choice, Nicholson said.

"It's going to increase our visibility but it's also going to create a fairly ideal habitat for the fish," she said. "We have what we now know to be a healthy creek. We need to protect it and enjoy it instead of treating it like a nuisance."

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