State of Our Watersheds: Six of 12 pocket estuary projects done in Whidbey basin

Six of 12 pocket estuary projects prioritized in the Skagit Chinook Recovery Plan have been completed since 2005.

The 12 pocket estuaries total 76.8 acres of usable habitat area within a day’s swimming distance for Skagit River juvenile chinook. The restored pocket estuaries are estimated to increase chinook smolt production by over 48,000 smolts.

These findings were included in the treaty tribes’ 2016 State of Our Watershed Report. Since the 2012 report, projects in Turners Bay and Dugualla Heights were completed.

The six completed pocket estuary projects are marked above in yellow. The blue projects are conceptual.

Researchers found that more than two-thirds of historic pocket estuaries in the Whidbey basin were completely lost to juvenile salmon use, and the remaining one-third was reduced in size by half.

From the report:

This suggests an approximately 80% net reduction in pocket estuary area. The 12 pocket estuaries within a day’s swimming time of the Skagit River delta have experienced an 86% net reduction.

Restoration of these sites are expected to result in the production of over 147,000 additional smolts.

Learn more about the 2016 State of Our Watersheds report.