A first of its kind project, the advance mitigation site acquired by Snohomish County restored a formerly degraded area in Woodinville, Washington into 17 acres of protected forested wetland and salmonid-bearing stream habitat. The Little Bear Creek Advance Mitigation site enables the County to earn advanced mitigation credits to meet regulatory requirements for 11 public works projects while saving the County over $35 million in the process.

Why does this project matter?

This project will meet Snohomish County’s mitigation requirements for 11 planned public works projects over the next 10 years. By having an approved mitigation site completed in advance of future projects, the County expects to save over $35 million in mitigation costs, as compared to permitting mitigation project by project.

What is ESA doing to help?

ESA helped Snohomish County Public Works plan, design, permit and construct the advance mitigation project in the Little Bear Creek watershed, leading all phases of the project. Working closely with the County’s biologists, engineers and a private contractor, ESA assessed the site’s viability for restoration and enhancement, developed a monitoring and adaptive management plan, produced the full design plan and specifications, and prepared all the local, state and federal permit application materials.

Numerous buildings, wetland fill, and drainage pipes were removed, and two small drainages connecting to Little Bear Creek were restored and revitalized to create a more functional wetland and riparian complex, complete with 21,000 native plants designed into ten distinct plant communities. This design enhanced tributary streams, and reestablished and enhanced 17 acres of wetland, upland, and floodplain habitat to support salmonid populations and native wildlife.

Clockwise from left, surveying baseline conditions at the site, earth work in process, Coho salmon are seen in the restored watershed, installing large woody debris.

We also assisted with regulatory agency negotiations and helped secure approval to use the site as an advance mitigation site. The estimated wetland credits generated over the next 10 years of the project are expected to compensate for impacts anticipated as part of the 11 future construction projects.  By aggregating the mitigation from these 11 projects into one site, the County will save more than $35 million in mitigation fees, as compared to standard project by project mitigation.

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Testimonials icon

This project came together through teamwork, collaboration, and a mutual commitment to save time and money, while restoring stream and wetland habitat as advanced mitigation. We feel fortunate to have supported Snohomish County in developing and permitting this innovative partnership, and look forward to future collaborations.

Jennifer Thomas, Senior Principal Biologist

A ribbon cutting ceremony for the project in Summer 2023 officially marked the project's completion.

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