Woods Creek Watershed

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Woods Creek is the largest lowland tributary of the Skykomish River, draining an area of nearly 61 mi2. Small peaks in the upper watershed reach an elevation of 2,370 feet and the stream drains to an elevation of 40 feet at the mouth. Woods Creek enters the Skykomish River at river mile 24 at the east end of the City of Monroe, about 16 miles east of Everett. (SCSWM 2013}


SCSWM 2013 provides a summary of habitat conditions in the watershed:

The primary land uses in the upper reaches of Woods Creek are forestry and rural residential, while the lower reaches are dominated by small non-commercial farms and several equestrian centers (Thornburgh and Williams, 2000). The basin is currently zoned 48% rural residential (5 acres parcels) and 45% forestry (Figure 4). Many non-commercial farms are present as part of the area’s agricultural legacy. The population in the basin has increased by 34% from 8,655 in 2000 to 11,595 in 2007.

  • Preservation of remaining habitat is a critical component of a recovery strategy in Woods Creek. Buffering against further hydrological alteration through protection of remaining forests and wetlands is necessary if habitat gains are to be achieved through restoration. Next steps include preserving wetland function in the upper watershed and restoring and protecting riparian habitat in the lower watershed near development pressure from the south.
  • Long-term riparian enhancement is needed throughout the basin to address elevated stream temperatures, control sediment sources, and provide a long-term supply of LWD. Planting efforts are most needed in reach 2 in Lower Woods Creek and reaches 3 & 7 in the West Fork.
  • In the short-term, fish presence data indicates that Chinook salmon populations would benefit most from in-stream restoration actions in Lower Woods Creek (reaches 1 & 2) and the East Fork (reaches 10 & 11). Restoration efforts in the West Fork would benefit coho and steelhead populations.
  • Fine sediment levels in the system are high enough that they are likely reducing eggto-fry survival for all salmon and impacting rearing habitat for steelhead. Projects in the lower West Fork (reach 3), the upper West Fork (reaches 6 and 7), and the East Fork (reach 11) that result in gravel sorting and reduce fine sediment input would be beneficial. Addressing the causes of altered hydrology and unstable banks through actions such as preservation of forests and riparian planting can help remediate this problem over the long-term.
  • A shortage of large wood limits the quantity and quality of pools. Projects that increase pool frequency, depth and cover for rearing juvenile salmon and holding adult salmon should be considered in Lower Woods Creek (reach 2), the lower West Fork (reach 4), and the East Fork (reaches 10 & 11).
  • Understanding habitat forming processes such as aggradation and degradation are critical to siting in-stream habitat improvement projects. A detailed sediment transport analysis at the site scale is advised to inform project design.

Wright et al 2001 provides the following assessment of water quality:

"Previous studies have identified water quality problems in the middle to lower watershed. Fecal coliform concentrations consistently violate water quality criteria throughout the year (Thornburgh et al., 1991; Cusimano, 1995). The creek carries high levels of sediment during storm events (Thornburgh et al. 1991). Impaired uses of Woods Creek are swimming, wading, and salmon and other fish spawning, migration, rearing, and harvesting (Ecology, 1994). Probable sources of contaminants include agriculture, pasture land, confined animals, tree harvesting, forest management, road construction, channelization, removal of riparian vegetation, and streambank modification (Thornburgh, 1993)."