Native plantings along the Hansen Creek-Red Creek confluence.
Native plantings along the Hansen Creek-Red Creek confluence.

 

Hansen Creek restoration work can be divided into two components- work conducted along a tributary to Hansen Creek north of State Route 20, and an acquisition and restoration project along Hansen and Red Creeks to the south of State Route 20.  You may click on the “+” signs below to expand the tabs and read about each project.

The Hansen Creek Tributary Restoration is an effort that resulted from mitigation associated with the Williams’ Northwest Pipeline Corporation’s Evergreen Expansion Project. During the development of the Northern State Hospital, in Sedro-Woolley, WA, a tributary to Hansen Creek (shown on the map below as Trib. #272) was diverted from its original channel into a narrow ditch that ran directly into Hansen Creek several hundred feet upstream of the original confluence. The mitigation project removed the upstream earthen diversion and installed a series of three weirs in the ditch line. The new tributary consists of 1,200 feet of original channel and roughly 300 feet of constructed channel that re-connects the tributary to Hansen Creek. Nearly 600 conifers and shrubs were planted shortly after the completion of the constructed channel and bridge emplacement.

Project Status/Timeline
The project is in its fourth year of monitoring, in which the survival rate and natural regeneration of the installed plants, the condition of the installed weirs, and the control of invasive species (Himalayan blackberry, butterfly bush and scotch broom) are being tracked within the project area. The site was used for an electro-fishing class in the spring following construction, during which numerous coho salmon and trout fry were collected in the lower end of the newly constructed tributary. During winter site visits, active coho spawning has been documented in the tributary.

Primary Project Contact
Brenda Clifton

Funding Sources
Williams Northwest Pipeline Corporation

Project Partners
Washington State General Administration, North Cascades Gateway Center (property administrators)

Habitat conditions have been degraded in Hansen Creek from agricultural and residential development and associated dike construction and dredging activities that have been undertaken to protect adjacent landowners from flooding. Ongoing flood control activities (dike construction, maintenance, and dredging) generated significant controversy in past years due to the continued impacts on habitat conditions. Hansen Creek is diked on both sides through the majority of this reach (Reach 5), which also includes Red Creek, a significant tributary that flows through a 5 foot diameter culvert shortly before entering on the left bank of Hansen Creek. To prevent flooding, Hansen Creek has been constrained by berms, the creek has often been dredged, and a flood gate has sometimes been used on the Red Creek culvert which creates a barrier for fish passage. In part, conflicts in this area lead to the development of the Hansen Creek Management Plan. Completed in 2002 by a team lead by Miller Consulting, the Plan has been serving as a template to improve habitat conditions and find more effective and sustainable solutions to flooding concerns throughout the Hansen Creek watershed.

This project resulted in the acquisition of 87.5 acres from two private landowners along Hansen Creek and placed into conservation ownership under the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community and incorporated into the Noo-wha-aah Conservation Area. The property includes approximately 2,600 linear feet of Hansen Creek, 3,200 linear feet of Red Creek and associated tributaries, and over 15 acres of wetlands. Skagit River System Cooperative is working with Skagit County (and their consultant) to complete design work for long-term restoration of Reach 5, which will include restoring channels and wetlands to more natural configurations, setting back flood control berms to restore floodplain connectivity, planting riparian areas with native vegetation, and improving connections with Reach 4 by installing culverts or bridges through SR 20.

Several near-term restoration actions aimed at improving habitat conditions have been implemented, including: reshaping approximately 1,200 feet of artificially steep bank along the right bank of Hansen Creek, and removing 480 feet of berm between the two properties, which will restore connectivity between Hansen Creek, the floodplain, and the associated wetlands on the acquired parcels. Two 5-foot diameter culverts on Red Creek have been removed, including the controversial culvert that sometimes had a flood gate attached. A portion of the floodplain has been regraded in order to improve wetland and floodplain connectivity, and in anticipation of extensive restoration work that will take place in the future. An existing 25-acre CREP planting project, installed in 2010, will continue to be maintained, and additional riparian and floodplain plantings have occurred, including 7 acres completed by the Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group on the southern half of the property (using LIP Program funding) in 2011-2012.

Currently, Skagit County has completed a conceptual plan to move Hansen Creek from its currently occupied, straightened channel location, to a more meandering channel to the west of the current location. This would take advantage of low lying ground currently consisting of degraded wetlands and pastures. Planning for this next project phase continues.

Map of the Hansen Creek Reach 5 project.
Map of the Hansen Creek Reach 5 project.

 

Project Status/Timeline
Property acquisition was completed in 2011 and near-term project actions were completed in 2011 and 2012. Site revegetation was substantially completed in 2012. Working with project partners, planning efforts are underway to complete additional restoration actions on Reach 5 of Hansen Creek.

Primary Project Contact
Steve Hinton – Director of Restoration

Funding Sources
SRFB – Salmon Recovery Funding Board
PSAR – Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration
Skagit River System Cooperative

Project Partners
Skagit County
Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group