Rebuilt Chambers Creek fish ladder opens Thursday

Pierce County residents are invited to celebrate the newly rebuilt fish ladder on the Chambers Creek dam when it opens Thursday, just in time for the fall salmon run.

The repairs allow the reopening of the second fish ladder on the dam, significantly enhancing access for returning salmon to 10 miles of upstream creek habitat.

A crew of volunteers called the Chambers Creek Restoration Team rebuilt the fish ladder for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife using materials purchased with grants, along with technical assistance from the Puyallup Tribe of Indians.

“This is an important step in improving fish passage in the creek,” said Pierce County Councilmember Dick Muri. “The county and state have invested $13.2 million in upstream improvements. Now it’s time to let these fish go home.”

The upstream improvements include a new culvert in Leach Creek crossing Bridgeport Way, water quality improvement to stormwater along Highway 99 in Lakewood, enlarged wetlands, and several fish passages above Steilacoom Lake.

The public is invited to celebrate the opening of the fish ladder at 11:30 a.m. on Thurs., Sept. 27 at the Chambers Creek dam, which is located on Chambers Creek Road West, in University Place south of Chambers Bay Golf Course. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will use a crane and other equipment to remove the dam’s steel door and let water flow through the restored fish ladder.

Councilmember Muri and Public Works and Utilities Director Brian Ziegler are scheduled to speak at the celebration.

“Pierce County applauds this all-volunteer effort,” Ziegler said. “Opening the second ladder will preserve fish runs in the upper creek as it allows more adult and juvenile salmon to survive.”

Supporters are hopeful this is just the beginning.

“The ladders force the fish into a narrow area where they are easier to catch by seals, sea lions and bird predators,” said Al Schmauder of the Clover Creek Council. “Long-range plans call for restoration of the Chambers Bay Estuary. Within five years, we hope to finalize the agreement with the state and the county to remove the dam entirely.”

Chambers Creek Properties. (IMAGE COURTESY PIERCE COUNTY)