By Dennis Hinton
Special to West Seattle Blog
Volunteers turned out Saturday morning for state-approved emergency work to check bank erosion in lower Fauntleroy Creek. Over the past four years, erosion had chewed away a section of path used by hundreds of schoolchildren in the spring and salmon watchers in the fall.
The Fauntleroy Watershed Council spent nearly a third of its bank account on supplies and called on creek lovers to pull ivy and anchor coir logs to force flow away from the eroded bank. The council unsuccessfully sought grant funding two years ago, before the problem became severe, and plans to try again this spring to fund what has become an even larger scope of work.
“Starting in the late 1990s, the City of Seattle got behind restoration of its urban creeks and, in partnership with residents, accomplished a lot,” said longtime Fauntleroy Creek advocate Judy Pickens. “Over the past few years, the city has pulled back, making maintaining natural drainage systems a challenge borne to a great extent at the neighborhood level.”
As the mile-long Fauntleroy system illustrates, urban creeks convey more than a lot of water. “They’re also rich outdoor classrooms, science labs, urban respites, and close-at-hand examples of the value of protecting habitat,” Pickens said. “We’re doing all we can to avoid losing this urban creek to the impact of development and shifting city priorities.”
Last May, volunteers with the watershed council hosted a record 764 students, who released 1,795 coho fry as part of the Salmon in the Schools program. In October and November, volunteer salmon watchers documented seven coho spawners in the reach just repaired.