Environmental Sciences and Technology instructor Andy Fritz stands in front of a tree planted in the Flett Creek wetland in 2007.

Sustainability in Action: Flett Creek Habitat Continues to Improve

June 11, 2014

Seven years after receiving a grant from the Pierce County Community Salmon Fund, areas of the Flett Creek wetland across the street from the Clover Park Technical College Lakewood campus continue to improve to provide a better salmon habitat.

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Pierce County partnered with local groups in 2007 to provide grant opportunities for community-based salmon habitat restoration projects throughout the county. One of the funded projects included CPTC, which enlisted students in the Environmental Sciences and Technology program to remove invasive species and plant about 300 native trees to restore salmon habitat diversity along a degraded section of Flett Creek on CPTC property.

“They’re going to grow, provide shade and provide better habitat,” said Andy Fritz, CPTC Environmental  Sciences and Technology instructor.

Clearing out invasive species like blackberry growth and planting native vegetation along the edge of the wetland will eventually provide shade and cool down the water temperature. The current fish in the wetland are warm water species: bluegill, catfish and stickleback.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife deemed the wetland at Flett Creek a Coho salmon habitat, said Fritz. The salmon spawn downstream where it’s more shaded and cooler, and spend about a year in fresh water.

“We’re trying to make a nice place for them to spend a year in fresh water before they go out to sea,” Fritz said.

There is still much work to be done to improve the 110-acre habitat, including the continuation of removing invasive species. The trees that have survived continue to grow and are thriving in the habitat.

Students in the Environmental Sciences and Technology program receive hands-on training at the Flett Creek Laboratory. For more information about the program visit www.cptc.edu/programs/environmental.

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CPTC Environmental Sciences and Technology students remove invasive species and plant trees in the Flett Creek wetland in 2007.