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StreamKeepers 2008 Stream Report

posted Nov 15, 2012, 11:05 PM by Derek Brown   [ updated Nov 15, 2012, 11:27 PM ]

November 2008

StreamKeeper volunteers continue to participate in monitoring and other activities related to improving the aquatic habitats in the stream systems—McAleer and Lyon Creeks—that run through Lake Forest Park. The creeks flow through our City down steep ravines, through City parks, and residents’ back yards before flowing into Lake Washington. As many of those streamside residents can attest, high water flows cause more regular flooding and other longer-term changes to the streams. 

This report includes: 

  • Monitoring Activities and Results
  • Salmon Returning
  • Streamside Improvement Efforts
  • Looking to the Future


Monitoring Activities and Results

StreamKeepers checked basic water quality at 11 locations in January and July, and conducted macroinvertebrate inventory (BIBI) testing in October. Four new monitors participated, including an awesome mother-daughter team.
The January 2008 basic water quality monitoring results for all factors were very good. However, the July 2008 results showed low levels of dissolved oxygen (DO) at two locations on Lyon Cr. (Brugger’s Bog and near 185th and 35th) and on two tributaries of McAleer Cr. (Hillside and Brookside Creeks). The low DO locations ranged from 6.5 – 8.5. DO levels of 10 mg/liter are considered very good for fish, insects and other animals living in the streams. 

The City’s 2009 budget includes $2,500 for upgrading and expanding water quality testing equipment.

See 2008 water quality data.  

In October 2008, StreamKeepers conducted the annual macroinvertebrate inventory (BIBI) at two locations on each of our streams. Macroinvertebrates include flies, beetles, worms and mollusks that live all or part of their lifecycles in the streambeds. The numbers and types of these creatures in a stream are considered indicators of overall biological health. StreamKeepers uses a sample collection method developed by a UW professor, Jim Karr. Our samples are sent to a specially trained entomologist for analysis and evaluation.  
On a stream health scale of 10 – 50, Lyon Cr. Scored 16 at both locations and McAleer scored a 24 and a 26. These are considered Very Poor and Poor, and they are consistent with previous years’ results.  They indicate that our streams, like many other streams in urban areas, are struggling to remain viable for fish and other aquatic wildlife. Pollutants in stormwater runoff undoubtedly contribute to low biological stream health, but it is thought that the main cause is increased sedimentation from high volume water flows. Macroinvertebrates live in the spaces around and under rocks on the streambed. Heavy sediment deposits fill in those spaces, displacing oxygen-bearing water, and suffocating the tiny creatures that live there. Sedimentation also covers over salmon spawning areas, and kills eggs that may have been buried in the gravel. 

See 2008 BIBI data

See compiled BIBI data 

What we have learned about our streams in 2008 points to their continued fragility. They remain beautiful and wonderful assets for the community, but they are being pushed to the edge, and we must all make every effort to respect and protect them.

Salmon Returning

Against that backdrop, salmon did return to our streams in 2008. One Chinook (King) and eleven Sockeye were observed on McAleer Cr. The Sockeye exhibiting spawning behavior.   

An LFP resident (44th Avenue) found the carcass of a 24” female Coho (or Silver) salmon on lower Lyon Cr. and contacted a member of StreamKeepers. This is good news in that there have been no reported salmon sightings on Lyon Cr. in many years, but bad news in that it was later confirmed that the fish died before being able to spawn.

According to NOAA researchers, there is currently a very strong trend for 60-100% of the returning female Coho salmon to become disoriented and die within hours of 
entering many Puget Sound area streams. This phenomenon is known as Pre-Spawn Mortality (PSM). The cause is unknown, but one or more of the pollutants (particularly copper), which are washed into the streams, are the prime suspect. NOAA has now listed Lyon Creek as a PSM stream. (A second Coho was also found dead, but it was not confirmed as PSM.)

Streamside Improvement Efforts

One very positive way our streams improved during the year was by significant removal of invasive ivy and knotweed plants that have become widely established in many riparian areas. These invasives colonize aggressively (knotweed root fragments as small as ½” can produce a new plant) and choke out beneficial native streamside plants, thereby reducing habitat for birds, mammals, and other organisms. 

A group of about a half dozen dedicated volunteers, led by the LFP Stewardship Foundation, worked many weekends throughout the year removing ivy and knotweed. In response to an article in the June Town Crier, some 15 residents called to ask for help with knotweed removal on their properties, and were referred to the volunteer crew. 

Looking to the Future

Lake Forest Park is involved in three major efforts that can potentially be very beneficial to our streams in the future.

  1. The city’s stormwater management program is being updated and expanded to better control surface water runoff and meet new state and federal water quality requirements.  
  2. A Lake Ballinger/McAleer Watershed Forum was formed via an interlocal agreement (ILA) about a year ago. The group is made up of elected officials and staff from five cities (including Lake Forest Park) and Snohomish County, to resolve watershed issues, primarily flooding, around Lake Ballinger and along McAleer Cr. The group is using a $200,000 grant from Washington State to conduct a comprehensive watershed study. Preliminary  recommendations are expected by next spring.
  3. The city is pursuing another interlocal agreement , this one with cities in the Lyon Creek Watershed.  

The City is also working in partnership with King County to get stream flow monitoring gauges installed on McAleer and Lyon Creeks. The data collected is an important step in understanding water volume issues within the City.

StreamKeepers will meet next for basic water quality testing, on Saturday Jan. 17, at 9:00 a.m. in

the lower level of the Town Center. Anyone interested in helping with this activity and learning more about our streams is invited to attend. 

Students are particularly encouraged to participate, as a way to earn community service credits and learn more about their local environment. All are welcome.

For more information, please email one of ourStreamKeeper contacts