Whisper Creek Restoration


Vision:  To increase access and restore a riparian buffer on Whisper Creek


The Cedarbrook community, which straddles the boundaries of Lake Forest Park and Shoreline, Lake Forest Park Stewardship Foundation (the Foundation) and some very dedicated volunteers came together to restore the buffer of Whisper Creek and to provide a footbridge for crossing the stream on a route which is popular for dog walkers, joggers, students coming and going to bus stops, and for accessing the playground at Cedarbrook School. Previously, the only foot crossing at that site consisted of two railroad ties laid precariously across the creek.  Large salmon and steelhead once spawned in this tributary of McAleer Creek, according to long-time residents. Small trout and stream lamprey now make this small stream their home. This restoration is one small step toward a goal of the Foundation to restore the habitat of this creek and all others in our City to a condition which will again support Salmon.

The Project

The Foundation chose the buffer along this reach of Whisper Creek, south of Lago Place, along a short stretch of what had been a continuation of 20th Ave. NE as the site for for their project. The buffer of the creek at that site had been a former community dumping dumping area on which a mono-culture of extremely invasive non-native Japanese knotweed had grown. This noxious bamboo-like weed grows so robustly it crowds out all other species by sending out 15-foot rhizomes which spread quickly underground. It will also spread along the course of a stream, as any small piece of its stalk, if cut or broken off will float downstream and, upon being trapped on a stream bank, will sprout new plants from each node on its stem. The Foundation set out to eradicate this aggressive weed, using a substance approved by King County for use near water which must be injected into each stem. Work Parties were also organized to dig out roots of the plants.

To reclaim the stream buffer 830 square feet of blacktop paving, the vacated portion of 20th Ave. NE, needed to be removed. The soil was amended and native plants were installed into the new widened buffer. During the growing season occasional small knotweed still need to be pulled, on the theory that consistent removal of new stalks will deprive the remaining roots of the nourishment they need to survive. Instead of knotweed native plants now thrive in the buffer. In the spring passersby can now enjoy blossoms of Indian plum, Native Rhododendron, wild roses, various Huckleberries and other native species which are filling in an area previously dominated by knotweed and blacktop pavements.

The capstone of this Cedarbrook project was the installation of a new footbridge. After National Wildlife Federation agreed that expense for the footings could be included in their grant, a shovel was brought in to dig for the footings.. Doug Clark, master stonemason and generous Cedarbrook neighbor, prepared the moulds and poured the footings. Several setbacks ensued, including water seeping into one of the footing excavations, but Doug’s perseverance won out and the footings were finally completed. Beams and decking for the bridge was generously donated by North City Lumber. Construction of the bridge was expertly handled by father and son master builders, George and Joshua Piano, with the assistance of good neighbors Doug Clark, Ray Streleki, Jake Libaire and Jim Beckley.

A ribbon-cutting party on Sunday, May 24, 2009, honored the many volunteers and celebrated the accomplishment.  On August 5, 2009, a beautiful, naturally sculpted basalt pillar, carefully chosen by Doug Clark was positioned horizontally on two smaller stones at the north approach to the bridge. It serves as a “sittin’ rock” and also as an attractive barrier marking the end of the section of 20th Ave. NE, accessible from Lago Place NE. A $1000 grant from National Wildlife Federation, funded by the Boeing Company made this addition possible. It also made possible the purchase of additional plants, a few tools and a small pump used to irrigate the new plants with water from the stream.

Partnerships and Funding

The project started when the Foundation received a grant of $4200 for habitat enhancement from the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). Funds for the grant came from King County Dept. of Natural Resources and Parks. This windfall occurred because of the successful efforts of the Foundation Board Member Libby Fiene and her Habitat Committee, who led the City of LFP to certification by NWF as a Community Wildlife Habitat, the 21st community in the United States to successfully reach that goal!

Current Status
Walkers, bikers, joggers, moms and dads with strollers and even folks in wheelchairs can now cross the creek with ease.

How you can help!

  • Help with Ivy and other invasive plant removal!  Volunteers and the LFPSF regularly hold “Ivy Out” work parties, and native plant restoration continues.  Please consult the LFPSF calendar (LINK) for dates and information.

Photo Information.

  • Header: Coastal Giant Salamander found in Brookside Creek during restoration.   Photo credit: ???
  • Rick Hoy and King County Council member Carolyn Edmonds
    cut the ribbon to officially reopen Brookside Creek.  Photo credit ????
  • Brookside Creek during and after stream bed reconstruction.  Photo credit ???