Open house planned for Wiley Slough estuary restoration

SWINOMISH (March 5, 2007) – An open house about the planned Wiley Slough estuary restoration is set for 5:30 – 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 20 at the WSU Mount Vernon NWREC, 16650 State Route 536, Mount Vernon.

The Skagit River System Cooperative is working with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, Skagit Watershed Council, the Salmon Recovery Funding Board and other agencies to restore natural conditions to 175 acres of estuarine wetlands on Fir Island, by removing dikes and returning tidal flooding to the area.

The project will be particularly beneficial for juvenile chinook salmon, which depend heavily on estuaries for rearing habitat. Historically, salmon and other native fish traveled through Wiley Slough before levees were constructed in the 1960s. Smaller tidal channels were filled in and the larger channels, including Wiley Slough, accumulated sediments from farmland erosion, becoming narrower and shallower, making it impossible for fish to access the estuary.

Estuary restoration is pivotal to the success of Skagit River chinook salmon recovery. Wiley Slough restoration also will provide habitat for threatened bull trout and other species of concern including coho salmon, Puget Sound steelhead and numerous migratory birds.

When completed, the nearly $4 million project will result in access to an additional 7.3 miles of tidal channel. Secondary goals include improving an existing boat ramp and parking lot, providing for agricultural drainage and flood protection, and enhancing public access to wildlife viewing sites.

The Skagit River System Cooperative (SRSC) is the natural resource arm of the Swinomish and Sauk-Suiattle tribes. More information about the Wiley Slough project can be found at

For more information, contact: Steve Hinton, Skagit River System Cooperative Director of Habitat Restoration, 360-466-7243, [email protected]; Kari Neumeyer, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission information officer, 360-424-8226, [email protected].