is 18 miles (29 km) of urban creeks and tributaries from southeast Shoreline
through northeast Seattle
to Lake Washington
. The creek is the largest watershed in Seattle, draining a 12-square-mile region of relatively dense biodiversity for an urban setting, home to frogs, newts, ducks, other birds an occasional beaver, in addition to over 200,000 people. From west of Jackson Park Golf Course in Shoreline
, from Sunny Walter-Pillings Pond in Licton Springs–North College Park
, and north Northgate
Thornton creek flows through Maple Leaf
and Lake City
and Matthews Beach neighborhoods
, emptying into the lake at Matthews Beach Park
Habitat and stewardship
Thornton creek flows through Meadowbrook Pond
, visited by migratory birds and an occasional transient beaver
. Prior to European settlement, Native Americans lived around Lake Washington. One of the eighteen historic home sites was identified near the mouth of Thornton Creek.
Early in the 1900s the creek was a spawning ground for fish (at least five species of Pacific salmon and trout), as well as habitat for insects, amphibians, muskrats, bats, coyotes, and birds. The areas surrounding the creek were developed without regard for the importance of maintaining habitat and a riparian
corridor; species diversity declined, and the creek became a typical, significantly degraded urban watershed. Storm water retention, sites restoration, an Environmental Learning Center adjacent to a school, and a fish ladder contributed to restoration and the return of native plants and wildlife.
For many decades much of the stream has run through culverts, notably under the car park of Northgate Mall. Building on gradual successes in restoration, activist neighbors initiated and have had some success working with the City of Seattle and developers toward daylighting parts of the buried creek. Organizations of citizens have cleaned up adjacent wetlands, educated the public about stream health and quality of neighborhood life, and rallied to bring more of the creek to daylight. Many restoration projects in Seattle have been in some way connected to or inspired by Thornton Creek.
Neighborhoods of the Thornton Creek watershed
- Bowditch, Elise; Wang, Man; and Wilson, Matthew "North Seattle Community College Trail Siting". GEOG461 Urban GIS, Department of Geography. University of Washington. Retrieved on 2006-04-21..
Elise Bowditch, Teaching Assistant; Man Wang, Teaching Assistant; Matthew W. Wilson, Research Associate.
- Boyer, Tom "Parking lot to become park for Northgate". Business & Technology. The Seattle Times, Retrieved on 2006-04-21.
- Brokaw, Michael "Grounds Department Wetland". North Seattle Community College Grounds Maintenance. Retrieved on 2006-04-21..
- Dolan, Maria; True, Kathryn (2003). Nature in the city: Seattle. Seattle: Mountaineers Books. ISBN 0-89886-879-3 (paperback).
- Hodson, Jeff "Restoration urged for Thornton Creek : Local News". The Seattle Times. Retrieved on 2006-04-21..
Was , NF.
- "Thornton Creek Watershed". Homewaters Project. Retrieved on 2006-04-21..
- "Licton Springs Neighborhood: Local Interest". Licton Springs Community Council. Retrieved on 2006-04-21..
- Mulady, Kathy "Thornton Creek may see daylight again". Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Retrieved on 2006-04-21.
- "Otter and Spawning Salmon Sighted in Thornton Creek". The Seattle Press, Retrieved on 2006-04-21.
Archive of The Seattle Press.
- "Seattle Parks - Matthews". Seattle Parks and Recreation. Retrieved on 2006-04-21..
History excerpted from Morgan, Brandt. Enjoying Seattle's parks. Seattle: Greenwood Publications, 1979. ISBN 0-933576-01-3
- "Meadowbrook Pond". Title of Complete Work. Seattle Parks and Recreation. (2006). Retrieved on 2006-04-21..
- "Thornton Creek". Restoration. Seattle Public Utilities. (2006). Retrieved on 2006-04-21..
- Sheridan, Mimi; Tobin, Carol "A Neighborhood History". Licton Springs Community Council. Retrieved on 2006-04-21..
- "Restoration Activities: A Few of Our Accomplishments". Thornton Creek Alliance, Seattle Community Network. Retrieved on 2006-04-21..
- Walter, Sunny; local Audubon chapters "Sunny Walter's Washington Nature Weekends: Wildlife Viewing Locations - Greater Seattle Area". Retrieved on 2006-04-21..
Viewing locations only; the book has walks, hikes, wildlife, and natural wonders.
Walter excerpted from
- Dolan, Maria; True, Kathryn (2003). Nature in the city: Seattle. Seattle: Mountaineers Books. ISBN 0-89886-879-3 (paperback.
"with additions by Sunny Walter and local Audubon chapters." See "Northeast Seattle" section, bullet points "Meadowbrook", "Paramount Park Open Space", "North Seattle Community College Wetlands", and "Sunny Walter -- Twin Ponds".