Tribes to remove dredge spoils from Swinomish Channel

SWINOMISH (Feb. 13, 2008) – When the Swinomish Channel was dredged 70 years ago, the spoils were dumped on top of marsh habitat on the Swinomish Reservation.

The Skagit River System Cooperative (SRSC) plans to remove those spoils to restore estuarine rearing and refuge habitat for juvenile chinook during the early phase of their oceanward migration. Puget Sound Chinook are listed as “threatened” on the federal Endangered Species List. The excavation will return tidal flooding to the marsh, allowing unrestricted movement of sediments, nutrients and fish.

“This is another example of the salmon recovery effort correcting past habitat destruction,” said Steve Hinton, restoration director for SRSC, the natural resource management arm of the Swinomish and Sauk-Suiattle tribes. “We’re still unraveling the damage from years of abuse.”

The Swinomish Channel is an estuarine corridor connecting Padilla Bay to Skagit Bay, where salmon rearing habitat is limited. Padilla Bay is filled with eelgrass meadows that provide rearing habitat for juvenile chinook and other salmon.

The restoration of about 10 acres of marsh is part of a larger effort to improve juvenile salmon migration from the North Fork Skagit River to Padilla Bay, to increase salmon survival and productivity.

The SRSC is in the permitting process and plans to begin the fill removal in the spring or summer.

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