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Natural Resources

Natural ResourcesNatural resources include vegetation, land, air, and water systems that are valued by people and serve to enhance the Kirkland community.  Effective natural resource management recognizes the complex interdependencies of natural systems and the fact that human impact to one natural system affects the others as well. 

In 2003, the City adopted its Natural Resource Management (NRM) Plan that calls for strategies intended to comprehensively manage Kirkland’s natural resources.  The Plan identifies three compelling reasons for managing natural resources in Kirkland: (1) the community’s vision could not be attained without it, (2) the law requires it, and (3) without it, community assets become liabilities.

In several city-wide resident opinion surveys, environmental protection/natural resource management were identified as vital contributing factors to the quality of life in Kirkland.  Natural resources like trees, streams and wetlands, can provide important benefits to Kirkland when they are managed effectively.  When they are neglected or mismanaged, these systems become community liabilities. 

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Go to the Green Links & Library page: Your central source of sustainable resources.

More on the City's Natural Resource Management Plan and Sensitive Areas studies.

Water Systems

The City’s efforts to protect streams and wetlands come on several fronts: regulations, incentives, public education, citizen involvement, acquisition of property to protect streams/wetlands, responsible management of  resources on City-owned properties, and data collection and monitoring.

Surface Water Management

The Public Works DepartmentStorm and Surface Water Section is responsible for maintaining and improving the quality of streams, lakes and drainage facilities in the City to ensure compliance with State and Federal surface water regulations. The Division administers the City's Surface Water Master Plan which notes the following goals for the Surface Water Program:

  • Reduce flooding in the City of Kirkland
  • Improve water quality
  • Protect and restore streams and fish habitat

      Programs that achieve these goals include:

  • Regular maintenance and cleaning of the drainage system
  • Regulation of storm flows from development projects
    • Many projects are required to install facilities to slow and filter stormwater before it’s released
  • Investigation and elimination of non-stormwater flows to the system
    • Work with business owners to control sources of pollution through everyday cleaning and storage practices
    • Investigate water quality complaints
    • Monitor the drainage system to detect and trace sources of pollution
    • Respond to spills
  • Enhance public awareness of water quality and stream issues and increase citizen involvement:
    • Conduct programs such as Natural Yard Care Neighbors, Horses for Clean Water, and Salmon Watcher
    • Organize volunteer events near streams to remove invasive species and plant native vegetation

Stream & Wetland Protection

Well-managed wetlands and stream corridors absorb, cleanse, and convey water, reduce flooding,support fish and wildlife, provide recreation, education and enhance the aesthetics and livability of Kirkland.  Wetlands are areas where water covers the soil, or is present either at or near the surface of the soil all year or for varying periods of time during the year, including during the growing season. Kirkland’s Totem Lake, Forbes Lake, Juanita Creek, Forbes Creek and Yarrow Creek, along with several wetlands and portions of the Lake Washington shoreline provide vital habitat for fish and wildlife.

Since 1999 when the Chinook salmon was listed as a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act, Kirkland has been an active participant in the region's efforts to recover sustainable, healthy and harvestable runs of salmonids. 

Each year funding is dedicated to stream and wetland protection in the Capital Improvement Program (CIP).  City projects such as the Juanita Beach Park Stream Restoration (see project CSD-0057 in the Capital Improvement Program) are designed and constructed to restore and/or protect streams.

The City often monitors and studies the chemistry, physical characteristics, and biological status of waterways within the City.  This helps to identify sources of pollution, potential for streams to support fish and other aquatic species, and the distribution and health of fish and other aquatic species.

Shoreline Protection

The Shoreline Management Act (SMA), enacted by the state legislature in 1971, is intended to protect valuable shoreline resources, to plan for and manage uses, to increase opportunities for the public to enjoy state shorelines, and to assure public involvement in decisions about shoreline resources. The SMA regulates most shorelines of the state including marine waters, streams and rivers (with a mean annual flow of 20 cfs or more), lakes and reservoirs or water areas of the state (larger than 20 acres), associated wetlands, and portions of the flood plain

The City's Shoreline Master Program (SMP) was first adopted more than three decades ago and is currently being updated to reflect current conditions.   The Shoreline Master Program, a mandate of the Washington State Shoreline Management Act and the Growth Management Act, enables the City to permit and regulate uses along its shoreline areas and to protect valuable natural resources.    In Kirkland, the Shoreline Master Program applies to Lake Washington and to land within 200 feet of its Ordinary High Water Mark, along with the wetland systems associated with Juanita Bay and Yarrow Bay.  

Land Systems

The Parks & Community Services Department maintains over 450 acres of parks and open spaces.  The 2001 Comprehensive Park, Open Space and Recreation Plan details the City’s parks system and recommends ways that the City can meet the public demand for park and recreation services including land purchase and development, open space acquisition and preservation and enhanced recreation services. 

The Planning Department is responsible for the management of trees on private property, including new development.  More information can be found on the Tree and Landscaping webpage

Air Systems

Click here to learn about how the City is protecting its air quality.

The City is committed to preserving its natural resources.  Learn how you can help.