Business owner transforms Juanita Creek section for migrating salmon

A Kirkland restaurant owner wondered why she hadn’t seen more salmon migrating through the section of Juanita Creek that ran alongside her property.

So Cafe Juanita’s owner and executive chef, Holly Smith, decided to transform her part of the creek and give migrating salmon a healthier highway.

With the help of two local environmental nonprofits, the Adopt a Stream Foundation and the King Conservation District, Smith had a whole series of tree stumps chained along the creek bank, along with logs and a rock added to the water.

“It has created 100 feet of refuge for salmon and trout while they are in this [migration] process,” Smith said.

Migration, she explained, is a tiring journey and salmon need a place to take refuge and rest. The crevices of these logs and roots provide a natural habitat where they can do this.

To put it in driving terms, Smith said: “It’s a place where they can stop, where the current can’t get to them – they can sort of get by. It’s a short stopover. »

Additionally, having the weight of the stumps against the bank prevents the bank from eroding, which in turn prevents sediment from clogging the stream.

This part of the “ex-stream makeover” was completed this week after being in progress for over a year.

And it’s already paying off — Smith and KIRO Newsradio watched several migrating salmon swim and jump through this section of Juanita Creek on Friday.

That was more salmon than Smith has seen on his property in years – a gratifying end to the project.

As a chef who works so closely with natural products, Smith feels called to help protect the environment.

“Clean up the area around you – if everyone does – I’m happy to help my part of the stream. It’s our responsibility,” Smith said, adding, “I still think if you try to do this what it takes, you get back what you give,” she said.

Over the winter, Smith and environmental groups will begin the next phase of the project – planting trees along the shore to shade the salmon in the creek.

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