Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Long-awaited improvements are ahead for Barnes Creek Natural Corridor in Des Moines

By Heather Hernandez

A popular 14-acre green space along Barnes Creek is on track to receive a much-needed makeover, thanks to a coordinated effort with the city of Des Moines.

The green space between Kent Des Moines Road and South 220th Street is a well-loved unofficial neighborhood trail where people are often seen walking their dogs, running, or enjoying nature with their families. This natural corridor includes a series of wetlands along Barnes Creek that have been degraded over time by invasive plants. To better protect native plant species and wildlife in the area, invasive species will be removed and wetlands will be enhanced. This supports city of Des Moines future plans for trail improvements through this corridor. The Barnes Creek work helps to reduce impacts to wetlands and vegetated areas surrounding streams from the State Route 509/24th Avenue South to South 188th Street – New Expressway Project (Stage 2 of the SR 509 Completion Project).

Significant upgrades are coming to the wetlands areas around Barnes Creek in the city of Des Moines.

Adjusting the plan

The SR 509 Completion Project, which is already under construction, will connect SR 509 where it currently ends at the southwest corner of Sea-Tac Airport to I-5. The original alignment for the new SR 509 Expressway, proposed in 2003, traveled through our right of way adjacent to Barnes Creek. However, a 2018 update to the design moved the road further to the north. We then worked with the city of Des Moines to develop a new plan for the right of way no longer needed for the SR 509 extension. The new plan for the area focuses on wetland preservation and enhancement, with the goal to protect what native plants and soil are already there, plant new native plants, and prevent disturbance of the wetland.

A look at some of the plans for the Barnes Creek wetlands project in the city of Des Moines

The goals of our work include:

  • Removing noxious weeds and invasive species
  • Preserving native soil
  • Preserving and enhancing Oregon Ash tree plant communities
  • Discourage human disturbances of wetland areas using CPTED principles (crime prevention through environmental design)
  • Coordinate wetland enhancement work with the city of Des Moines trail planning
  • Provide erosion control on steep slopes

Wetland preservation and enhancement at Barnes Creek will revitalize wetland habitat for wildlife and native plants like Oregon Ash trees and slough sedge plants. To preserve the wetland area, the Barnes Creek natural corridor includes four types of restoration ranging from simple invasive species removal to habitat enhancement and planting new native species.

OK, so when’s it happening?

The stage of the SR 509 Completion Project that includes the Barnes Creek restoration work is scheduled to be awarded to a contractor in 2024. At that point, the contractor will develop a detailed timeline for construction and once construction is done, we'll turn the site over to the city.

When the Barnes Creek wetland preservation and enhancement work begins, which could be as early as late 2024, trail users, nearby residents and property owners can expect to see light weight vehicles and landscaping tools (chainsaws, weedwhackers, etc.). While you may occasionally hear construction noise, we'll be getting a noise permit from the city that we'll follow and are committed to keeping noise levels as low as possible for the surrounding community.

While 2024 or 2025 seems far away, with how the last few years have gone it will be here before you know it. Stay informed by signing up for construction updates, visit the project webpage, or call 206-225-0674.