Green River project in Kent to improve salmon habitat, flood protection

This drawing shows the new Green River channel to be constructed at Riverview Park in Kent to improve salmon habitat. - COURTESY GRAPHIC, City of Kent
This drawing shows the new Green River channel to be constructed at Riverview Park in Kent to improve salmon habitat.
— image credit: COURTESY GRAPHIC, City of Kent

The city of Kent and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have begun construction of a side channel at Riverview Park in Kent to restore salmon habitat and reduce potential flooding on the Green River.

The park is on Hawley Road at approximately South 255th Street, just south of LA Fitness.

Project manager Beth Tan said construction of the side channel will create summer rearing habitat and a high flow refuge for multiple endangered salmon species including Chinook, steelhead and bull trout.

“Side channels along a river are an important component of salmon habitat," Tan said in a city media release. "Away from the river’s main channel, salmon can thrive and seek refuge from predators and high water flows."

“This is a great example of the city’s commitment to balancing habitat restoration for the Green River watershed and flood protection for residents and businesses in the valley,” Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke said.

With construction started in April, the Riverview Park project is the culmination of a decade long partnership between Kent and the Corps. It is part of the city’s overall strategy for both salmon habitat restoration and flood control along the Green River.

"For more than 100 years the Green Duwamish River system had been altered in a way that degraded its ability to function as clean, productive habitat for fish and wildlife," said Col. Bruce Estok, Seattle District commander for the Corps. "Thanks to our strong community partnership with the city of Kent, and the support of other stakeholders, this Green River watershed project epitomizes the Corps’ efforts throughout Puget Sound to restore habitat and improve public safety by mitigating flood risk."

According to Auburn City Councilmember Bill Peloza and Covington City Councilmember Marlla Mhoon, co-chairs of the Watershed Ecosystem Forum, the Riverview Park restoration implements a regional plan endorsed by 17 cities and the county.

The cost to construct the side channel is $3 million and is funded through a partnership of the Corps, the city of Kent, the Water Resource Inventory Area 9 (WRIA 9) Ecosystem Forum, the Washington State Salmon Recovery Funding Board and the King Conservation District. The Corps is paying about 65 percent of the construction cost.

Slated for completion this year, Riverview Park will include fish habitat and thousands of native plants. An adaptive monitoring plan will be in place to determine the success of the project. It will include a footbridge to allow pedestrians to see and experience the new channel and the new plantings on the riverbank.

The public is invited to join in the celebration of this habitat revitalization for salmon at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 6 at Riverview Park.

The Riverview Park restoration project is the latest in a series of projects designed to improve fish habitat while also reducing flooding in Kent.  From Howard Hanson Dam in the upper Green River to the shores of Vashon Island, there are 23 complementary projects underway that will restore salmon habitat, reduce flood risk and improve water quality.

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