Chelan County Natural Resources is using a federal grant to study and design a project to reconnect the Peshastin Creek near Blewett Pass with its originally creek bed. 

Construction of U.S. Hwy. 97 in the 1950's reduced and straightened the stream and disconnected it from the historic footprint. 

Natural Resources Director Mike Kaputa says the original creek bed has been sitting by itself as a separate body of water ever since. 

"There's a big section of Peshastin Creek on the other side of the highway that is not connected to the existing Peshastin Creek," said Kaputa. 

The $770,000 grant will be used to design two bridges on U.S. 97 that would allow the original creek footprint to be restored. 

The current isolated body of water would be reconnected with the existing Peshastin Creek on its north and south sides with water passing under the bridges. 

Kaputa says restoring the creek bed to its original form could bring back some recreational options. 

“Oldtimers will talk about all the swimming holes that used to be in Peshastin Creek before the highway was relocated,” Kaputa said. “So, the swimming hole in that floodplain, that was all good fish habitat. And a lot of that’s been disconnected.” 

However, it’s not certain how the creek water flow will be arranged in the upcoming project. 

Kaputa said sometimes they split-flow the water where some of it goes to the original creek bed and some stays in the existing creek. They could also fill the existing creek bed with soil and send all the water to the original creek path. Kaputa said the design process will determine the best option. 

The County Natural Resources Department will complete a hydrology and hydraulic assessment of existing and proposed conditions. It'll also look to fish biologists, local landowners, and other stakeholders to get their thoughts on how to proceed with the project. In addition, Natural Resources will conduct a bridge study and risk analyses, in order to produce a 60 percent design package.  

The Peshastin Creek project is one of 18 projects in eight states that are getting a total of $51 million in federal money to restore and protect aquatic ecosystems. 

The money is coming from the U.S. Department of Interior's Bureau of Reclamation competitive grant program. 

Also in Chelan County, a separate $500,000 grant is being awarded to complete designs for a large-scale salmon habitat restoration project along Nason Creek north of Leavenworth. 

The project will develop final construction designs to remove, and re-route, a 0.65-mile stretch of State Route 207 away from the Nason Creek floodway to restore stream habitat for Endangered Species Act (ESA) listed spring Chinook salmon, steelhead, and bull trout. 

The location is within the Northern Treaty Territory of the Yakama Nation, which is partnering with the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), and the Wenatchee Subbasin Watershed Action Team (WAT) on the project. 

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