Stream restoration near Lake Stevens teaches the importance of salmon habitat

LAKE STEVENS — As president of the National Junior Honor Society at Olympic View Middle School, Maya Green needs to complete 20 hours of community service.

By 11 a.m. Saturday, she was starting her 21st hour.

Green, 14, of Mukilteo, was in the work party at Catherine Creek in Lake Stevens. She and her classmates joined volunteers from the Adopt A Stream Foundation in planting more than 500 native spruce, cedar, fir and shrub saplings in the watershed near Grade Road.

“I love the idea that we’re planting trees and it’s almost spring,” Green said. “You feel like you’re a part of protecting the creek.”

With an interest in fighting ocean acidification, Green wants to become a marine biologist. She knows how important salmon are to the local ecosystem, she said.

Her dad, Ron Green, came along to help. They planned to have lunch afterward at Haggen.

“He said his wife, my mom, would be proud because he usually weeds and now he’s planting,” Maya said.

Native trees improve the water quality and wildlife habitat along the 1,650-feet-long creek, said Marla Koberstein, an ecologist with the stream foundation. The restoration project at Catherine Creek started about three years ago and received a state grant in 2015, she said. The creek is home to coho salmon and steelhead.

Koberstein encouraged the volunteers to come back in a few years and see how the trees have grown, she said.

Friends Evan Clarke and Kunal Renjen, both 12, also were with the Olympic View honor society. They explained that trees mean more shade, cooler waters and more oxygen dissolved in the stream for fish.

“We’re helping the community and stuff,” Evan said.

“And helping the stream and it’s pretty cool,” Kunal said.

Evan’s mother, Sia Clarke, saw the day’s work as a chance to give back and spend some time together outside, she said. “It’s beautiful up here,” she said.

Ethan Macias Denham, 13, of Woodinville, had tagged along with his parents and twin brother, Nolan. His mother thought it would be fun for them to do something for the environment, he said.

Ethan has been learning about plant genetics and pollination in science class, he said. He held up some tiny snails he found while digging a hole for a sapling. He didn’t know snails could live below ground, he said.

He asked Koberstein, “Should I put them back?”

“They would probably appreciate that,” she said.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com.

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