By Dick Schaetzel and Gary Smith
This article was originally published in our Fall/Winter 2014 newsletter.

Over the past few years we have occasionally briefed you on the latest details about the Bear Creek restoration and relocation project in Redmond, near Redmond Town Center. Here is the most recent good news. The creek has been totally diverted into the new channel. The banks have been reinforced with secured “large woody debris”. The new section of the creek has both slow and fast moving water, riffles, and pools. The creek substrate is varied, from sand to cobble. Some of the cobble looks about the correct size for Sockeye or Coho redd material. The creek meanders back and forth. Near the mouth of the creek, many shrubs and vegetation have been planted. Unfortunately, with a summer planting (not the smartest thing to do without an irrigation plan in place) many of the plants are now dead. If you have gone by the site you have seen the huge mounds of dirt and probably wondered where all that dirt will go. Well, they are using the dirt to fill in most of the old creek bed. There are three large sections where they are leaving the old bed alone. They will be connected to the new channel and used as backwater resting/rearing areas for fish and other critters. This is what they are currently working on. The city hopes the project will be completed by the end of November. Construction is still underway with very heavy equipment being used so please stay clear of the site for now. All in all, I am very happy with what I see so far. It looks like a job that has been well thought out and done properly. Two of the attached photos show the old creek bed. The rip-rap rock substrate certainly was not helpful for any creature to live in. The tires in the one picture were found at the mouth of the old creek to stabilize the bank. A pretty ugly and cheap way to take care of that job. Obviously, no thought was taken into consideration for the animals that would be using the waterway.

Bear Creek Restoration Timeline (dates are approximate)

Year Event
1992 DoT completed EIS/SEPA for SR-520 construction project
1999 DoT finished restoration of UBC allowing creek to meander from old bed
2006 CoR published design for LBC Rehabilitation and set aside $2 million
2007 DoT began construction of fly-over at Redmond Way and submitted plan for widening SR-520 into LBC buffer
2007 Plan for widening SR-520 into LBC buffer
2007 DoT officials met with WT, TU, and other citizens concerned about LBC impacts
2008 WT met with CoR Council and state legislators to raise LBC issues
2008 DoT gave CoR $8 million grant for LBC rehabilitation
2008 CoR submitted design for LBC restoration with 2012 completion target
2009 CoR submitted archeology study to ACE
2010 DoT completed SR-520 widening
2011 TU awarded 3-year grant for testing LBC water quality
2011 CoR submitted modified realignment addressing archeological issues
2013 ACE issued permit
2013 CoR started restoration project, removing artifacts, relocating trail, and installing lower half of new creek channel down to confluence
2014 TU completed LBC water testing and submitted results to CoR and DoT
2014 CoR diverts creek flow into new channel, abandoning old creek bed
2015 CoR completes riparian planting and has public ceremony to open the creek’s new area

List of Acronyms
ACE = Army Corps of Engineers
CoR = City of Redmond
DoT = Washington Department of Transportation
EIS/SEPA = Environmental Impact Statement for State Environmental Protection Act
LBC = Lower Bear Creek (roughly 2,800 feet from Cost-Plus World Market to the Sammamish River)
TU = Trout Unlimited
UBC = Upper Bear Creek (roughly 1,000 feet from Redmond Way to the Cost-Plus World Market)
WT = WaterTenders