Streams & Shorelines - Moxlie Creek Watershed
Moxlie Creek orginates at an artesian spring in Watershed Park and flows north to Budd Inlet's East Bay. The watershed extends southeast to Boulevard and Log Cabin Roads, west to portions of the South Capitol Neighborhood, and east to the top of the 4th Avenue hill. Moxlie Creek is piped under Chestnut Street for 3,200 feet, between Union Avenue and East Bay. It is also piped under Interstate-5.
|Watershed Area||1,472 Acres (100% within City limits)|
|Forest Area||244 Acres (17%)|
|Urban Area*||695 Acres (47%)|
|Stream Miles||1.8 miles|
|Water Quality||Fish: Poor Condition |
Swimming: High Risk
|*Urban Area is Impervious Surface Area|
More than one third of the creek is piped underground between East Bay and the headwaters in Watershed Park. In addition, the water quality is compromised by fecal coliform bacteria and other pollutants in the stormwater runoff. Despite these conditions, the creek within the park has the occasional coho and chinook salmon, and hosts resident cutthroat trout. The naturally silty and sandy stream bed limits spawning for salmon. Spawning gravel was added in the mid-1990's, but since then most of it has been covered over with silt and sand deposits.
Unique Natural Features:
he artesian groundwater in the park was used for drinking water for over 50 years. Within the park a horseshoe shape of steep slopes opens north towards Budd Inlet. The middle of the park is a forested wetland with salmonberry, skunk cabbage, red alder, horsetail, and old growth cedars. The upland forest consists of Douglas Fir, many types of ferns, and an abundance of shrubs and herbaceous plants. A one-and-a-half mile hike on the park's loop trail is wonderful anytime of year. Remnants of the City's waterworks can be found on the north side of the park and along the creek crossings. Salmon may be spotted in September and October spawning near the salmon viewing platforms.
While many people know Moxlie Creek as a small stream within Watershed Park, they are unfamiliar with the fate of the stream once it leaves the park. Prior to 1910, Moxlie Creek discharged to an estuary that was open water and mud flats from the current location of Interstate-5 northward to East Bay along the land areas that are now Plum and Chestnut Streets (see a historic map from 1873 that reflects Olympia's original shoreline). In 1910, Budd Inlet was dredged and two million tons of mud from the bottom of Budd Inlet was used to completely fill in the estuary, called Swantown Slough, and create more land elsewhere along the shoreline (see map of Olympia's downtown showing all the land created from dredge spoils). Moxlie Creek and adjoining Indian Creek were piped under the newly-created land. Today, the inlet pipe can be seen at the southwest corner of Plum and Union Streets; the outlet is visible at low tide along Marine Drive just west of East Bay Drive. Contact us for a downtown shoreline history tour or Watershed Park tour for your group.
Contact staff member Patricia Pyle 360.570.5841, or send an email.