SKOKOMISH (September 10, 2007) – The huge earth-moving machines on the Skokomish tidelands on Monday seemed out of place for an estuary restoration project.
But by using them to remove a mile-long 60-year-old earthen dike, it is expected this 108-acre parcel will soon look like it should – islands of sediment that are flooded during tidal surges, creating good natural fish habitat.
Work on the project began in earnest this summer to restore the Skokomish River’s estuary by removing nearly 5,000 linear feet of dikes. The project is located just west of the river’s mouth, within the tribe’s reservation boundaries.
The final aspect of Phase 1 of the dike removal started September 10th, when the dikes were breached in sections with excavators, so not to inundate the estuary with too much sediment flow.
In addition, 3,000 linear feet of a raised concrete walkway has been installed, allowing tribal members access through a forested wetland complex to harvesting and ceremonial areas. The elevated walkway will also allow the tides to flow freely within the estuary.
The dike system, built in the early 1940s, has prevented the delta from receiving a natural tidal flow, severely affecting the health of the estuary and eliminating important juvenile salmon rearing habitat.
“Removal of the dikes will allow nutrients to flow through the area and allow for a more natural restoration of the property as well as benefit finfish and shellfish,” said Keith Dublanica, the Skokomish Tribe’s senior lands planner. “The tribe wants to see the river flow again through the delta.”
This project is the first part of a multi-phase effort to restore more than 300 acres of the estuary to its historic conditions, including the restoration of nearby Nalley Island next year. The Skokomish River is the only river in the Hood Canal basin that directly supports Olympic Peninsula bull trout, Hood Canal summer chum and Puget Sound chinook – all listed as “threatened” under the federal Endangered Species Act.
Funding for this phase of the project came from the State of Washington’s Estuary and Salmon Restoration Program. The funds will be administered by the Mason Conservation District. Additional support has been provided by the Pacific Coast Salmon Recovery Fund, Washington Salmon Recovery Funding Board, City of Tacoma, Mason Conservation District, Mason County Public Utilities District No. 1, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Environmental Protection Agency and the Skokomish Tribal Nation.
For more information: contact Keith Dublanica, Skokomish Tribe’s senior lands planner, at (360) 877-2110 ext. 457 or [email protected]; or Tiffany Royal, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission information officer at (360) 297-6546 or [email protected].