Protecting Wapato Creek

Wapato Creek has run through the Puyallup River Valley since time immemorial, providing a critical habitat for a wide variety of plants and wildlife—including species of endangered salmon.  

Agricultural, commercial and housing development have negatively impacted the creek over the years, both prior to and after Fife’s incorporation in 1957.

Today, we’re prioritizing the health of the Wapato Creek habitat. In partnership with the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, and neighboring jurisdictions and agencies, the City of Fife has been working to protect and restore the value and functions of the Wapato Creek watershed.

Here's WHAT we're doing:

  • Puyallup Tribe Freeman Road Mitigation site – Puyallup Tribe advance mitigation project at the mouth of the Wapato Creek with channel restoration, wetland creation and enhancement, off channel and buffer habitat, and flood plain capacity.
  • Benaroya/DCT – Private development replaced two fish barrier culverts on Freeman Road and installed buffer enhancements and flood plain capacity.  
  • Valley Ave – City restoration project along Valley Avenue with creek channel restoration, off channel habitat and flood plain capacity. 
  • Brookville Gardens – City park with creek channel restoration, wetland creation and enhancement, and flood plain capacity. 
  • Oxbow Restoration Site – City restoration project with buffer enhancements, critical habitat and flood plain capacity.  
  • Wedge Park Restoration Site – City owner property adjacent to Wedge Park.  Grant funding for buffer restoration. 
  • Lower Wapato Creek Habitat Project – Puyallup Tribe advance mitigation project as the mouth of Wapato Creek with channel restoration, wetland creation and enhancement, off channel and buffer habitat, and flood plain capacity. Replaced critical fish barrier culvert.
  • Salmon Planting – The above work has made it viable for the Puyallup Tribes’ fisheries department to begin planting spawning salmon in the Wapato Creek.  
  • Long range planning – Wapato Creek is the City water body of emphasis in the Stormwater Management Action Plan (SMAP) and has been included in the Pierce County Comprehensive Flood Hazard Management Plan. 

Here’s what you can do:

If you are the owner or caretaker of a property that benefits from Wapato Creek frontage, you have a special responsibility to help maintain the vegetated buffer zones that protect the banks against erosion, improve water quality and provide habitat for plants and wildlife.



  • Use chemical fertilizers or pesticides.
  • Allow for any (organic included) fertilizers or pesticides to go into the creek.
  • Allow soapy car wash water to drain into the creek or catch basin.
  • Place compost piles near the creek, where flood waters could inundate the compost.
  • Remove significant amounts of vegetation.
  • Leave bare soil exposed or unprotected from entering creek during rainfall.
  • Place fences along the creek.
  • Park/store vehicles near the creek.  

Seek city review and approval:

The following activities require review and approval by the City of Fife (and potentially other agencies).

  • Adding structures and/or pavement, such as sheds, garages, driveways or parking areas.
  • Filling, grading or otherwise altering the elevation of the ground.
  • Any work in the water, including placing dirt or physical objects below the ordinary high-water mark.
  • Removing significant trees from the regulated buffer.  

Additional resources:
Brochure (pdf): Guidelines for living and working next to Wapato Creek