History of Clarks Creek
Many efforts have been focused on Clarks Creek and its contributing waters. Please read through the articles below to see how and where restoration and protection efforts have been placed in recent years.
To read about current projects and efforts in Clarks Creek, head over to the Current Restoration Efforts page.
Developed by Pierce County Public Works and Utilities, Water Programs Division, the Clear/Clarks Creek Basin Plan (Basin Plan) is intended to serve as a comprehensive guide to storm drainage and surface water management in unincorporated parts of the Roosevelt Ditch drainage area, Clear Creek drainage basin, Clarks Creek drainage basin, and the Potholes drainage area. The Basin Plan addresses many aspects of surface water management with emphasis on flooding, erosion, water quality, and habitat problems and solutions to the problems identified.Access the basin plan files on the Pierce County website.
2006 article on
However you pronounce it (i-lō-dē-Ə is the official Webster pronunciation), elodea=trouble in Clarks Creek (and many other areas in North America). Within Clarks Creek the elodea plant has been recently identified as native – rather than an invasive exotic Brazilian elodea previously thought. However, native or not, the elodea can still be called invasive – in the sense that it is over populous. Since 1991 the City of Puyallup, in collaboration with Pierce County, has been cutting the elodea within Clarks Creek on an annual to semi-annual basis. The city’s share of this cost has been as high as $90,000 (cutting two times a year) and as low as $22,500 (most recent, once-a-year cutting). This service has been executed as a result of citizen complaints about the creek flooding into their properties, although no, to little structural damage has ever resulted.
Flooding is not the only problem created by the large amounts of elodea. Dissolved oxygen (DO) levels are further decreased (from their current, already depressed natural levels) by the presence of elodea.
Solutions have been posed for how to address this problem including reducing nutrient loads in the creek and upper reaches (see Silver Creek Riparian Restoration project), creation and implementation of DO and FC TMDLs (see Clarks Creek Initiative). While one solution alone can produce benefits, a collection of efforts will best address the issue. While TMDLs are being developed and plans implemented, planting of as many stream-side feet of riparian habitat as possible in Clarks Creek as well as in upper reaches, such as Meeker and Silver Creeks, along with better creek-side yard care of lawns that are not replaced with stream-friendly riparian plantings, can really drive home the overall goals of restoring and maintaining Clarks Creek and DeCoursey Pond within the city of Puyallup.
Smaller creeks and streams empty into Clarks Creek which, in turn, flows into the Puyallup River, and ultimately Puget Sound. This sets the stage that each small stream and river in our watershed must be properly protected, cared for, and, when necessary, restored to minimize the amount of pollutants eventually emptied into Puget Sound.
Prior to development of the lower Puyallup River valley, streams and rivers meandered where they chose, flowing freely along their paths. Decades of construction and development have altered the paths of many of these streams - moving them 'aside' to make room for homes, roads and buildings. One example of this is Meeker Creek. Meeker Creek presently flows in a nearly straight, ditch-like alignment through the Puyallup Valley in what has become its channel through the course of re-direction.
This doesn't have to remain the case! Silver Creek, which is a contributing water to Meeker Creek, once was subjected to channel re-direction due to land development through the 1000 block of 11th Street SW. Through efforts led by the city of Puyallup, Silver Creek has since re-occupied its previous, natural stream channel to the east, continuing from its crossing with 12th Avenue SW. Silver Creek flows into Meeker Creek just after this location, on 10th Avenue SW.
In addition to restoring Silver Creek to its natural channel, the City, in cooperation with Pierce Stream Team through funds from a Green Partnership grant, completed a trail building and riparian planting project along this same stretch of the creek in 2010.
Riparian zones are areas that surround water bodies within a watershed. These ecosystems consist of complex interactions between the water, soil, microorganisms, plants and animals and are found surrounding lakes, estuaries, streams and rivers. Riparian zones are important transition areas that connect the water with the land, and host a wide array of plant and animal life and are important because they help to filter stormwater runoff, removing pollutants before the water flows into streams. Riparian zones also provide necessary shade to our local streams, preventing overgrowth of invasive plants, such as elodea.
To complement the riparian planting, the City also installed a walking trail through this same location - creating a recreation activity for citizens to use and appreciate the nature of Puyallup. Volunteers poured out for this events, mirroring the dedication and commitment the City has for restoring the watershed and creating community areas. Interpretive signs were installed to help visitors understand the transformation Silver Creek has undergone and tell about the importance of riparian planting.
The efforts didn't end there! Take a look at the Current Restoration Efforts page to see how this project has since expanded and is growing through additional grant funding and volunteer efforts.