Tulalip project returns the tide to isolated floodplain

TULALIP – Work is well under way on the Qwuloolt estuary project to return tidal processes to 350 acres of isolated floodplain in the Snohomish River watershed.

“We lost critical salmon habitat in the early 1900s when the Marysville marshes were drained and the area was diked for farming,” said Tulalip tribal Chairman Mel Sheldon. “Restoring Qwuloolt and other estuary wetlands are key to regional salmon recovery. The effort also provides critical habitat for waterfowl, shorebirds, eagles, river otter, harbor seals and other plants and animals.”

The Qwuloolt project is a partnership among the Tulalip Tribes, city of Marysville, and state and federal agencies. Historic natural conditions will be restored to two streams and fish-blocking tide gates will be removed to open fish access to 16 miles of spawning and rearing habitat.

Tidal channel work and ditch filling began in 2010. Eventually, the Ebey Slough levee will be removed and a new setback levee will be constructed.

The Qwuloolt estuary supports a large commercial and recreational salmon fishery and provides spawning, feeding and rearing habitat for chinook, coho, chum and pink salmon, steelhead and resident trout. Chinook, bull trout and steelhead are listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act, but all stocks are at risk because of the historic losses of estuary habitat and continued environmental degradation.

For more information about the project, visit tulalip.nsn.us/qwuloolt