The city of Kent continues to receive grants and complete work on the estimated $9 million Downey Farmstead restoration project to provide a large channel for salmon habitat and flood reduction along the Green River.
Formerly a tree nursery, the 22 acres is between the Green River and Frager Road and State Route 516, aka Kent Des Moines Road. Crews are turning it into a network of side channels and an area for flood storage when the river rises.
“This project will provide rearing and refuge habitat for juvenile salmonids, floodplain habitat, shade for the Green River and flood reduction benefits,” said Melissa Dahl, city project engineer, in a Sept. 24 email.
The Washington State Salmon Recovery Funding Board announced last week the award of $21 million in grants across the state to aid in salmon recovery, including $195,895 to the city of Kent for the Downey Farmstead project. The monies are from the state Recreation and Conservation Office.
The city will use this grant to build side channel habitat and reconnect floodplain on the left bank of the Green River. The project will create additional storage for water during storms and flooding and will help reduce flood risk in nearby urban and agricultural areas. The city will contribute $873,545 in a local grant and donated labor and materials to this specific channel of the project.
The Green River is used by Chinook salmon and steelhead trout, both which are species listed as threatened with extinction under the federal Endangered Species Act; by coho salmon, which is a federal species of concern; and by chum salmon, according to the Salmon Recovery Funding Board.
To date, the city has received nearly $4.6 million from multiple sources toward the project. The sources include Washington State Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration, Salmon Recovery Funding Board, King Conservation District, King County Flood Control District through its Cooperative Watershed Management fund, King County’s Waterworks Grant, Floodplains by Design and contributions by the city of Kent.
So far, the city has excavated around 150,000 cubic yards of dirt, relocated Frager Road, built a separate pedestrian trail, installed six habitat structures (stacked logs for salmon habitat) and planted more than 10,000 native plants, Dahl said.
Remaining work includes removal of 60,000 cubic yards, this will include connecting the project site to the Green River, installation of the remaining 44 habitat structures and planting of more than 30,000 native plants, Dahl said.
“The city expects to complete this project by the end of 2022,” Dahl said.
The latest batch of state grants (given annually) from the Salmon Recovery Funding Board went to 105 projects in 29 of the state’s 39 counties.
“Salmon are important to every Washingtonian, whether they spend time fishing, eat salmon, rely on salmon for their business or use salmon in their cultural celebrations,” said Gov. Jay Inslee in the board’s news release. “It’s imperative that we improve the areas salmon need, and these grants help do that.”
The city started work on the project in 2018 when crews cleared and graded the existing project site and transported the removed soil off site.