Skip to main content
Unsupported Browser Detected

Internet Explorer lacks support for the features of this website. For the best experience, please use a modern browser such as Chrome, Firefox, or Edge.

Road Removal Project Reconnects Wetlands and Benefits Salmon

November 04, 2022

A recently completed habitat restoration project in Washington State opens up a wetland for migratory fish, including threatened Puget Sound Chinook salmon.

A shallow creek runs over small rocks and into a larger creek. A road removal project in Pierce County, Washington reconnected Clear Creek with a wetland area, increasing valuable spawning and juvenile habitat for migratory fish, including endangered Chinook salmon. Credit: Pierce County

By removing a portion of roadway in Washington State, a recently completed project opens up a wetland area for migratory fish, including threatened Puget Sound Chinook salmon.

The road decommissioning project removed sections of a pre-existing access road that separated Clear Creek from an adjacent 9.5-acre wetland. Salmon can now use the wetland for feeding and resting, as well as for rearing, as they migrate from the Puyallup River to the ocean.

The improved connection also increases the wetland's ability to store water, which reduces the size and frequency of significant overbank flooding from rains and storms, and helps protect nearby communities and roadways.

The project’s completion is a milestone for Pierce County and the Commencement Bay Trustee Council, which includes NOAA. The road removal is one of two Clear Creek restoration projects that were recently funded by the Trustee Council. These projects are part of a larger restoration effort paid for through settlement funds from the Commencement Bay natural resources damages case. 

"The Puyallup watershed has seen more than its fair share of impacts from pollution," said Jen Steger, Pacific Region manager for NOAA Fisheries' Office of Habitat Conservation. "This restoration is an important step towards a healthier future for salmon and people. We are grateful for the longtime partners who share this strong vision for a healthier future for the river, its people, and this place."

Three people look over the edge of a decommissioned bridge over a small creek
The removal of a decommissioned road running alongside Clear Creek, a tributary of the Puyallup River, was removed as part of the Commencement Bay pollution settlement case near Tacoma, Washington. The removal of the road allowed for the reconnection of the creek to wetland habitat for use by migratory fish, including Chinook salmon. Here, project managers examine part of the roadway prior to excavation in summer of 2022. Credit: NOAA Fisheries/Larissa Lee

The Clear Creek restoration projects include this road decommissioning project and an upcoming floodgate replacement project. They are part of a broader ecosystem-based approach to restore habitat for fish, birds, and wildlife. The Trustee Council has been guided by this approach in order to restore habitat for resources injured by pollution. The Clear Creek projects highlight the partnerships that the Trustee Council has established with local entities, such as Pierce County, to achieve shared restoration goals. 

The Trustee Council has been working to settle with polluters and restore habitat in Commencement Bay and its waterways since 1991 through the Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration process. To date, the Trustee Council has recovered more than $70 million in settlements to fund restoration. Along with NOAA, other members of the Trustee Council include

To learn more about restoration led by the Commencement Bay Trustee Council, check out a new Commencement Bay Story Map.

Last updated by Office of Habitat Conservation on November 08, 2022