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Mussels mean hope for Dogfish Creek

August 23rd, 2010 at Mon, 23rd, 2010 at 12:35 pm by Jennifer Morris

Photo courtesy Troutunderground.com.

Thanks to a few freshwater mussels the city of Poulsbo has some muscle of its own when it comes to restoring Dogfish Creek.

The Western Pearlshell mussel is common in the Pacific Northwest but its population is declining. Its presence in the south fork suggests a salmon population, which ups the city’s chances of recieving grants for restoration. Here’s a brief description, from the Xerces Society for Invertabrate Conservation:

“The western pearlshell inhabits cold creeks and rivers with clean water where there are also sea-run salmon or native trout. Much of their habitat in western rivers and streams has been highly impacted, but their populations seem to have fared better at higher elevations away from the impacts of dams and development. The western pearlshell is the most common freshwater mussel in the Pacific Northwest, but their populations are probably declining in many areas. This species can live to be over 100 years old, and it is a good biological indicator of water quality in the West.”

The city is currently developing a master plan to restore the creek’s south fork, which runs from Caldart Avenue through Wilderness and Centennial parks, and then along State Route 305. Despite curving between Poulsbo Village and the highway in a ditch so narrow it is nearly swallowed from sight, the south fork is surprisingly healthy — and has the potential to be even healthier.

Next month the City Council will vote whether or not to adopt a master plan, which could set into action some short-term and long-term projects, including Low Impact Development fixtures, culvert repairs and a public awareness campaign. Ninety percent of the stream’s subbasin lies within city limits, and the city owns many sections of the surrounding land, giving it easy access to make repairs.

The city hopes to reduce urban flooding as well as improve the quality of the stream and its subbasin. In years past, heavy rains have caused major flooding of the south fork, which tends to become overloaded from rainwater runoff and blocked culverts.  JM

Photo courtesy Flyfisherman.com.

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