2012 Lake Forest Park Streams Report

Saturday, January 26, 2013

McAleer Creek at the Lake Forest Park Town Center
Photo by Diane Hettrick

This report of 2012 stream activities was prepared by LFP StreamKeepers, a volunteer group that monitors water quality of McAleer and Lyon Creeks, with support from the City for supplies and lab fees.

StreanKeepers measured basic water quality – temperature, dissolved oxygen and acidity (pH) – twice during the year, at multiple locations on McAleer and Lyon Creeks. Those tests showed good conditions for fish and other stream wildlife. Other testing by King Co. showed elevated levels of fecal coliform on Lyon Creek following storm events.

In September, StreamKeepers conducted an inventory of aquatic insects and other small animals, called macroinvertebrates, as a way to understand overall stream health. Urban streams like McAleer and Lyon generally score low on this inventory, and the 2012 results followed that pattern. Three locations scored in the Poor range, while the fourth scored somewhat higher - Fair.

16 returning salmon were seen on McAleer Creek, more than in the last few years, but far from the hundreds of fish routinely seen on the creek as recently as 40 years ago. Salmon returns on Lyon Creek have been rare in recent years, and none was observed last year. Students at three elementary schools (Brookside, LFP and Ridgecrest) raised and released salmon during the year with support from the LFP Stewardship Foundation.  Several individuals also raised and released salmon.

The Adopt-A-Stream Foundation of Snohomish County conducted stream education events during 2012: workshops for streamside residents, and a five-session Streamkeepers Academy. Those events were sponsored by the City and the Environmental Quality Commission, and funded by the King Co. Conservation District.

Stream restoration work last year consisted mainly of removing invasive plants. The Stewardship Foundation coordinated numerous Saturday Ivy Out workdays, as well as removal of invasives at City parks. Those activities will continue in 2013, and more volunteers are welcome!

Despite some good indicators, LFP’s streams have several serious problems. Excessive storm water runoff from intense development is the major threat, carrying toxins from roads, homes and gardens, as well as damaging streambeds and banks. Extensive stream armoring on both LFP streams increases flow velocity and eliminates the benefits of natural flood plains. Numerous small dams and some major obstructions present barriers to fish and other stream animals. Invasive plants like ivy, knotweed and blackberries along the streams provide poor habitat for native plants and wildlife.


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