Newaukum Creek Watershed
Newaukum Creek flows 14 miles southwest from the Cascade foothills northeast of Enumclaw, dropping nearly 3,000 feet to its confluence with the Green River. Newaukum Creek Watershed drains about 27 square miles. One of the two largest tributaries to the Green River, the creek is included in King County Water Resource Inventory Area (WRIA) 9.
Newaukum Creek is designated as “a critical spawning area” for several important fish species, including Puget Sound Chinook, Coho, Chum, Pink, Sockeye, Steelhead/Rainbow, and Cutthroat Trout.
Newaukum Creek sub-basin is one of two in the Green River system that is a target for temperature and dissolved oxygen violations under the Clean Water Act. Portions of the stream are unhealthy for fish and its riparian zone is degraded, with a lack of shade, overhanging cover, and in-stream woody debris. Stream temperatures, fecal coliform levels, and dissolved oxygen levels routinely exceed Washington State standards for salmon spawning, incubation, and juvenile rearing.
Financial Compensation for Newaukum Creek Streamside Buffers
King Conservation District participated in a program to assist landowners along Newaukum Creek to improve water quality and fish habitat by protecting the riparian buffer area along the stream. Funding was available through King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks to compensate landowners for preserving streamside property either through ownership transfer or a conservation easement for the buffer area.
Newaukum Creek Precision Coordinated Investment
The Newaukum Creek Precision Conservation Project was an innovative multi-year project led by American Farmland Trust and King Conservation District with a project goal to improve water quality by reducing stream temperature and the amount of nutrients and fecal coliform in the stream, creating a healthier environment for salmon.
The project was a new approach to voluntary conservation. Rather than spreading resources and cost-share money across a large area, the project concentrated money and effort in a specific threatened watershed to more efficiently achieve a greater improvement to water quality, thus making more effective use of limited funding.
The program provided significant cost-share/financial assistance to landowners and farmers wanting to implement conservation and agricultural Best Management Practices (BMPs) in the Newaukum Creek sub-basin. This ranged from funding for streamside plantings for habitat improvement, to projects for better management of on-farm manure and nutrients.
The Newaukum Creek Precision Conservation project brought together the support of numerous partners, including Washington State Conservation Commission, Washington Department of Ecology, Natural Resource Conservation Service, King Conservation District, National Fish and Wildlife Service, King County WRIA 9 and King County DNRP.