Our employees and partners achieved environmental successes throughout King County in 2022, in cities, unincorporated communities, and natural areas from the foothills of the Cascades to the shorelines of Puget Sound. It’s the year we clearly demonstrated what we can achieve when we fully apply the principles of Clean Water Healthy Habitat, unifying our work across divisions and initiatives to achieve better results faster for people, fish, and wildlife.
It’s best represented by the progress we made this year throughout the Green Duwamish Watershed, where successes along the river corridor contributed to clean water and healthy habitat:
- In the middle section of the Green River at a site now known as čakwab, we completed a major floodplain restoration that improves salmon habitat and protects homes, farms, and roads from flooding.
- Farther down river, we made farmland that King County protected more accessible to immigrant and refugee farmers, strengthening a more dynamic, equitable local food economy.
- Along the riverbank in Tukwila, we hired people experiencing homelessness to help us maintain successful restoration projects and laying the foundation for future projects as members of our Green Start Jobs and Housing Program.
- Where the Green River becomes the Duwamish River, we showed progress we’ve made with cities to protect the last remaining greenspaces in the industrial river corridor, offering more equitable access to open space and reducing stormwater pollution.
- Where the river flows through Seattle, we completed the Georgetown Wet Weather Treatment Station, a state-of-the-art facility that will better protect the Lower Duwamish and Puget Sound from stormwater pollution.
- Where the Duwamish River flows into Elliott Bay, we removed a derelict dock and nearly 2,000 toxic-coating pilings from the Harbor Island shoreline.
This multi-benefit approach is now producing results throughout our entire region. This year, King County Parks became the largest park agency in nation to earn Salmon-Safe certification after a rigorous independent review determined that our operations and practices protect downstream water quality and habitat.
All of that is in addition to the climate solutions we delivered this year:
- Our Solid Waste Division became the first organization in the state to roll out a new model of battery-electric heavy-duty truck manufactured in Renton, opening a new market for zero-emission fleets.
- Our experts contributed to King County’s first-ever Wildfire Risk Reduction Strategy, strengthening the region’s resiliency, response, and recovery.
- We’re updating King County’s Flood Management Plan for the first time in nearly a decade to better prepare communities for more frequent and severe floods.
- Our experts are now developing the county’s first-ever Extreme Heat Mitigation Strategy to prepare our region for more intense, prolonged heat waves caused by climate change.
- And we completed another solar project, installing a large array at our Vashon Recycling and Transfer Station that will advance our goal of making all our operations carbon neutral by 2025.
Meanwhile, we began construction on a new segment of Lake to Sound Trail – which will connect five South King County cities and two Link light rail stations – and began installing a new trail bridge that will connect Eastrail to Sound Transit’s Wilburton Station by the end of next year. We also celebrated major improvements at Skyway Park where we enhanced sports fields, added a new playground, and made the revitalized park safer and more accessible.
We started the year by flying nearly 12,000 offspring of native Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon back from an Orcas Island hatchery and ended with a lakeside celebration, releasing the young fish in their home watershed.
I am also excited about what we will achieve with our partners next year:
- We will start a decade of projects that will remove barriers to 250 miles of restored habitat, building on the strong progress we made this year.
- We will maintain our accelerated pace of land conservation, thanks to King County voters overwhelmingly approving Executive Constantine’s proposal to restore the local Conservation Futures Program to its original rate.
- We will continue to enhance West Point Treatment Plant’s reliability and resiliency, providing our crews with the reliable power they need to operate one of the largest treatment facilities on the West Coast.
- We will publicly launch Re+, our initiative to reinvent the region’s waste system to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition to a sustainable economy.
- We are well positioned for unprecedent federal investments in climate solutions included in President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
I want to take this moment to thank the 1,800 professionals at the Department of Natural Resources and Parks who contributed to the advancements we made this year and for positioning us for continued success in 2023.
Thank you, as always, for supporting our mission.
Christie True, Director
King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks