Ballinger Park Hall Creek Restoration
Hall Creek runs from just north of the city to the 55-acre Ballinger Park, draining into Lake Ballinger. Ballinger Park has been allowed to return to a more natural condition starting in 2012, after the old golf course was decommissioned. The city’s future vision for the park is encapsulated in the Ballinger Park Master Plan, approved by the City Council in 2015.
The plan includes a substantial ecological restoration component for the portion of Hall Creek that runs through Ballinger Park, together with the park ponds and wetland areas. The environmental restoration portion of the plan was estimated in 2015 to cost $5 million. In order to fulfill this component of the Ballinger Park Master Plan in a cost-effective manner, the city approached the Corps of Engineers as a project partner under the Section 206 Continuing Authorities Program. In the summer of 2018, the Corps determined that the project met federal interests by improving the quality of the environment and having a positive impact on significant ecosystem resources. A project team consisting of Corps and city staff was brought together to develop a scope of work and costs for the feasibility phase of the project.
The proposed project’s goal is to address current constraints on ecological health in Ballinger Park, including increased channelization of Hall Creek and loss of latitudinal connectivity between the creek and its floodplain. There is a lack of side channels for velocity refuge and rearing of coho salmon and other stream biota. Invasive plant species are dominant around the streams and wetland areas. The project would create habitat in an already urbanized and rapidly-developing urban area, particularly for species of concern such as amphibians, and would also provide significant habitat for migrating birds. Watershed-level objectives for habitat improvement would also be met through the project.
Alternative plan development and evaluation is required to determine the most optimal channel, wetland, and riparian restoration measures to improve habitat conditions. The chosen alternative will likely include:
- Increased Hall Creek channel meandering
- In-stream habitat improvements, including large woody debris placement
- Removal of non-native riparian vegetation and revegetation with native species along Hall Creek and in the wetland area
- Restoration of wetland buffer habitat on ponds adjacent to the creek
- Physical exclusion measures for park visitors in certain areas to protect wetland and stream ecological function
Project Timeline and Costs
Total estimated cost: $4.2-$6.2 million
Total Mountlake Terrace estimated cost: $1.565-$2.265 million