Bringing back Quilceda Creek will take help of Marysville neighbors

MARYSVILLE — Quilceda Creek is in bad shape.

The water is loaded with fecal coliform bacteria. The bottom sediment contains arsenic, lead and several other metals that shouldn’t be there, according to a report by Snohomish County.

The creek was historically the most productive coho salmon tributary of the Snohomish River, said Tom Murdoch, director of the Adopt-a-Stream Foundation, which is working to restore the creek.

In the 1970s, the stream was still thick with returning fish in the fall, he said. Now, the salmon in the stream have dwindled to just a few.

Adopt-a-Stream, based in McCollum Park in south Everett, uses grant money and volunteers for restoration projects on streams in Snohomish, Island and King counties. Its grant for Quilceda Creek is running out, though, and the group wants to enlist the help of the public. A meeting is scheduled for Thursday.

The creek runs northeast-southwest nearly the length of Marysville, with tributaries coming from as far north as 172nd Street NE in Arlington and from the eastern part of the Tulalip Indian Reservation.

The stream drains about a 30-square-mile area and empties into the Snohomish River just west of I-5.

Development, farms and failing septic tanks are the source of most of the pollution, Murdoch said. Loss of native vegetation near the creek makes it easier for pollutants to get into the creek and makes conditions tougher for fish.

During the past year and a half, with help from a grant, Adopt-a-Stream volunteers have worked with property owners along the stream to take out lawns and nonnative plants and replant with native vegetation.

So far, 20 landowners along the stream have agreed to remake their property so it’s more stream-friendly, and crews working for Adopt-a-Stream have installed log structures in the creek to help salmon.

Adopt-a-Stream is hoping more people will get involved.

“Volunteers can accomplish an awful lot,” Murdoch said.

Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439;

Fix the creek

Adopt-a-Stream group has scheduled a meeting for Thursday night in Marysville to discuss the state of Quilceda Creek and steps that can be taken to improve its condition. The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the Marysville School District Public Service Center Board Room, 4220 80th St. NE. For more information, call 425-316-8592 or go to

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