In the relatively short time period since American settlement began in the mid-1800s, floodplains in the Puyallup Watershed have been developed extensively. By 1931, most of the Puyallup River valley and surrounding hills had been harvested for timber and the valley was cleared for agriculture upstream of Orting. In the 1930s and 1940s, levees and revetments were constructed to prevent migration of river channels through agricultural lands.
In the 1960s, extensive portions of the Puyallup and Carbon rivers were straightened and confined with levees and revetments, allowing residential development in portions of the floodplain that used to be occupied by the river channel. Starting in the 1970s and continuing into the 2000s, large tracts of floodplain farmland was converted to residential, commercial, or industrial development.
Since 2013, Floodplains for the Future partners have collaborated to support, fund, and implement multi-benefit floodplain projects and activities in the Puyallup Watershed. Together, we have removed over 70 structures at high risk of flooding, conserved nearly 400 acres of farmland, restored critical salmon habitat and made numerous other advancements towards our goal of achieving integrated floodplain management in the Puyallup Watershed. We have many more projects currently underway, but not yet completed, as shown and described below.
Floodplains for the Future partners are implementing multi-benefit floodplain projects in the Puyallup, White, and Carbon River floodplains
Explore the watershed and view information developed by the Floodplains for the Future partnership as part of their Shared Monitoring Program. The interactive map displays the extent and condition of floodplains in the Puyallup Watershed and the location of many of the projects described below.
The Ball Creek project is part of a larger conservation project that includes the acquisition of the Matlock property. Ball Creek (WRIA 10.0405) is a small stream approximately 6 feet wide with about a 3 cfs mean flow and connects with the left bank Puyallup River at river mile 15. It is about 2.5 miles long and originates from springs emerging off the west valley wall. The stream has been documented to contain coho and pink salmon as well as cutthroat trout (Ereth 2011 and Pierce County 2005). Prior to this restoration project, the stream encountered culverts, agriculture fields, railroad, residential duck ponds and a river revetment as it discharged into the Puyallup River. The riparian area consisted of a small strip of vegetation or none at all. The stream had been ditched to help drain the fields and received excess sediment from eroding soils, which in turn buried spawning gravels. There was also a partial barrier to upstream salmon migration at the mouth as the stream traverses the revetment. Summer flows were very low in the stream and often reached near lethal temperatures (high 60’s F) for salmon.
The project enhanced the lower one-half mile of Ball Creek by maximizing floodplain connectivity to the river and stream, planting riparian vegetation, producing a more natural stream meander pattern, and removing a partial fish passage barrier. Three barriers to fish migration were removed and 1,000 linear feet of new stream channel was constructed featuring a log jam at the confluence of Ball Creek and the Puyallup River.
This first phase of the Orville Road Revetment Project was completed in 2014. It included the installation of approximately 1,000 linear feet of setback revetment consisting of 23 engineered log jams, including 6 in-channel log jams. The project provided projection to Orville Road from risks associated with channel migration and further protected approximately 45-acres of floodplain. This project was the first in a multi-phase plan for the reach between river mile 28.4 and 26.2.
The South Fork Floodplain Restoration Project removed approximately 2,407 linear feet of existing levee located along the left (west) bank of the South Fork Puyallup River between approximately Puyallup RM 17.7 and 18.2. The levee was set back to the west and extended upstream near Puyallup RM 18.4, encompassing an area of approximately 1,392,217 square feet. The project reconnected the Puyallup River to remnant riparian springs located in this portion of the river.
The Calistoga Setback Levee Project removed approximately 3,803 linear feet of existing levee located along the right (east) bank of the Puyallup River between RM 20.6 and 21.2. A new armored levee (3,839 feet) was constructed and set back to the east encompassing an area of approximately 1,279,719 square feet. The project helped to promote channel migration of the Puyallup River and reconnect it to existing wetlands, as well as a pond and some low-lying riparian woodlands.
The long term goals of the Alward Road Project include removal of nearly 9,000 linear feet of existing levee to reconnect the Carbon River left bank floodplain and creation of 150 acres of off-channel habitat. An armored levee would be constructed and set back from the Carbon River to the south, encompassing an area of approximately 142 acres. The project intends to improve flood protection, maximize storage volume at low frequency events, promote increased channel complexity and multi-channel reaches, and maximize habitat diversity and use. Pierce County will need to acquire 81 properties for this project. As of December 2019, 54 properties have been acquired and 27 properties remain.
Alward Road project link: http://www.co.pierce.wa.us/3578/177thAlward-Road-Property-Acquisition
The proposed Clear Creek Floodplain Reconnection Project involves the construction of a ring levee around low-lying portions of Clear Creek to protect farms, homes, and infrastructure from backwater flooding from the Puyallup River, followed by the removal of two tide gates where Clear Creek enters the Puyallup River. The project is intended to reduce flood risks and improve salmon habitat and is anticipated to take 10 to 15 years or more to implement.
Pierce County project link: http://www.piercecountywa.org/4574/Clear-Creek-Strategy-Plan
Habitat Work Schedule link: http://hws.ekosystem.us/project/230/40010
The Farming in the Floodplain Project is looking at overall agricultural viability in Clear Creek to illuminate the needs of farmers so that they can be incorporated into the currently proposed re-connection projects that aim to balance flood, fish, and farm interests in the Clear Creek area. The long-term goal of the project is to advance progress toward a collectively agreed-upon plan for Clear Creek that increases its agricultural viability while meeting fish and flood interests.
Farming in the Floodplain project link: http://farminginthefloodplain.org
The Neadham Road Acquisition & Revetment Project involves the acquisition of properties, and removal of roads, residential structures, and a remnant levee along Neadham Road. The project also involves the installation of engineered log jams and a revetment along Brooks Road. The project is intended to reduce flood hazard risks and increase protection of Brooks Road.
Near the area where Kapowsin Creek drains into the Puyallup River, Pierce County is continuing its efforts to protect Orville Road from the impacts of the river migrating toward the road. The county is currently conducting preliminary engineering to evaluate potential solutions. The project may include installation of engineered log jams to reduce the energy of the river, provide protection to Orville Road and improve fish and floodplain habitat. The work may be similar in nature to the other projects, including Orville Road Setback Revetment projects underway further up-river. Construction is tentatively scheduled for 2023.
The South Prairie Creek Restoration Project involves stream and floodplain restoration along 0.6 miles of South Prairie Creek, including: placement of instream structures in the main channel and constructing/reconnecting floodplain channels on the right bank. The project intends to improve instream habitat, off-channel habitat, riparian function, and floodplain connectivity to increase the capacity of the stream to support salmonids.
This phase of the Orville Road Revetment Project is scheduled for completion in 2023. It will consist of approximately 1,000 linear feet of setback revetment consisting of 84 engineered log jams, 39 of which will be eventual in-channel engineered log jams. Project will also remove approximately 2,000 linear feet of existing and remnant levee creating improved floodplain connectivity to approximately 100-acres.
The Lower White River Restoration projects consist of a reach scale restoration plan that will enhance/restore floodplain and riparian habitat, allow the river room to migrate, and provide increased floodwater and sediment storage. The projects include Stewart Road Bridge replacement, Left Bank Setback, Pacific Point Bar, and 24th Setback Levee. The largest of these projects is the 24th Setback Levee which covers 170 acres and is planned for construction in 2021. Combined with the other projects, which are currently undergoing design and acquisition, over 200 acres and 2.4 miles of river will be restored.
The 116th Street Reconnection & Setback Project includes removal of existing levees and construction of new levees farther back from the Puyallup River. Approximately 4,933 linear feet of existing levee and revetments located along the left (west) bank of the Puyallup River between Puyallup RM 15.7 and 16.7 would be removed and a new armored levee of approximately 6,910 linear feet would be set back from the Puyallup River to the west, encompassing an area of approximately 4,539,440 square feet (104 acres). The project would reconnect the Puyallup River with riparian vegetation, wetlands and ponds.
The proposed Canyon Falls Creek Project involves the removal of existing levees and construction of new levees farther back from the Puyallup River. Approximately 3,820 linear feet of existing levee and revetments located along the right (east) bank of the Puyallup River between Puyallup RM 15.9 and 16.7 would be removed and a new armored levee of approximately 3,899 linear feet would be set back from the Puyallup River to the east, encompassing an area of approximately 2,016,560 square feet (46.3 acres). The project would reconnect the Puyallup River with riparian woodlands, a major tributary (Canyon Falls Creek), wetlands, and remnant side-channel habitat.
The Linden Golf Course Oxbow Project proposes to remove approximately 4,456 linear feet of existing levee located along the left (south) bank of the Puyallup River between points located approximately at Puyallup RM 9.6 and 10.5. An armored levee of approximately 4,346 linear feet would be set back from the Puyallup River to the south, encompassing an area of approximately 1,849,113 square feet (42.4 acres). The project would reconnect the Puyallup River with remnant riparian wetlands.
The Horse Haven Project proposes removing approximately 2,547 linear feet of existing levee located along the left (south) bank of the South Fork Puyallup River between RM 19.1 and RM 19.6. A new armored levee (3,239 feet) would be constructed and set back to the south, encompassing an area of approximately 1,354,280 square feet (31 acres) (Figure E-15). The project is intended to reconnect the Puyallup River to remnant riparian springs.
The Riverside Drive project proposes the removal of existing levees and revetments and construction of new levees farther back from the Puyallup River. Approximately 2,463 linear feet of existing levees and revetments located along the right (north) bank of the Puyallup River between Puyallup RM 12.4 and 12.8 will be removed and a new armored levee of approximately 3,484 linear feet would be set back from the Puyallup River to the north, encompassing an area of approximately 1,377,481 square feet (31.6 acres).
The proposed Union Pacific Setback Project includes removal of existing levees and construction of new levees farther back from the Puyallup River. Approximately 5,703 linear feet of existing levee located along the right (north) bank of the Puyallup River between Puyallup RM 2.6 and 3.7 would be removed and an armored levee of approximately 6,432 linear feet would be set back from the Puyallup River to the north, encompassing an area of approximately 4,938,347 square feet (113.4 acres). The project would reconnect the Puyallup River to remnant riparian springs.
As part of the FFTF vision, members of the Strategic Conservation Partnership are conserving farms in the floodplains of the Puyallup Watershed. Agricultural conservation easements keep farms in farming and protect floodplain parcels from residential or commercial development. Collaborating with other FFTF partners on agricultural conservation easements also allows for opportunities to protect habitat as part of the conservation project. SCP members have protected the Matlock Farm, Wild Hare Farm, and Ford Farm and are currently working on a fourth agricultural conservation project.