By Chris Hendrickson, Valley News
The City of Sultan will join the Snohomish County Public Utility District at Osprey Park on Saturday, June 29, to dedicate the newly-enhanced trail system and fish habitat there.
The ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. and is a celebration of a series of improvements made to the park by the PUD in conjunction with the Jackson Hydroelectric Project. Representatives from the Snohomish County Council and the Tulalip Tribes will also be joining the dedication.
“The fish habitat and trail improvements were identified by working with more than a dozen groups, including state and federal agencies, tribal government, the City of Sultan and recreational users,” said Neil Neroutsos, PUD Spokesperson.
Ongoing since last summer, the project intensely focused on improving conditions for salmon that migrate to the Sultan River to spawn, and providing safe habitat for juveniles to grow before swimming out to the ocean. This was accomplished through the creation of new side channels along the Sultan River, in addition to the enhancement of existing side channels.
The PUD constructed the new channels by excavating large culverts, and then utilizing engineered log jams, which enabled them to redirect the flow of the river into the new pathways. Log jams are concentrated areas of woody debris which are manmade and strategically placed in different areas alongside the river.
The slower moving water in the channel, interspersed with timber and fringed with natural local flora, provide the fish with safe hiding places so that they can grow and prepare for migration to the ocean.
Approximately two miles of side channels were either created or enhanced.
“The project on the lower Sultan River is one of our largest fisheries projects to date. The benefit is that habitat for juvenile salmon will be increased significantly by improving flow into and out of side channels,” said Neroutsos.
During the fall spawning season adult salmon such as Chinook, Coho, chum and pink salmon can be seen in this area.
The PUD also focused on ways to expand the recreational opportunities within the park with additional hiking trails and pedestrian bridges. Native plants have been added and non-native plants have been removed, such as knotweed and blackberry bramble.
“This is just one of many measures aimed at protecting fish, wildlife, recreation and cultural resources in the Sultan Basin as part of the PUD’s operation of the Jackson Hydroelectric Project,” said Neroutsos.
The improvements to Osprey Park were a requirement in order for PUD to relicense the Jackson Hydroelectric Project.
“Hundreds of families walk Osprey Park every week. I had many phone calls last year during the restoration. The enhanced trails are a great asset to the community,” said Sultan Mayor Carolyn Eslick.
Osprey Park is located northwest of downtown Sultan at 1st and High Streets.