Nearshore Sediment Study
In the Snohomish River Basin (WRIA 7), the restoration of juvenile Chinook rearing habitat in the nearshore has been identified as a high priority action needed for salmon recovery. This project will help address the need to identify, locate, and advance restoration in the nearshore area, targeting potential projects located south of the Snohomish River mouth, along the railroad-impounded shoreline between Mukilteo and Everett.
Click here to download a copy of the Snohomish Basin Salmon Conservation Plan.
Forage Fish Spawning Surveys
Three stakeholder meetings were held in 2011. A collaborative stakeholder process was used to identify priorities for restoration of the nearshore to improve both salmon and forage fish habitat. A technical assessment was used to evaluate the physical characteristics and biological potential of proposed sites.
Given that complete restoration through the re-establishment of sediment delivery processes is not possible along railroad-impounded sections of the shoreline, process substitution needs to be considered as a restoration strategy. Therefore, restoration options should not just include an evaluation of engineering options available to recreate habitat (e.g., engineered beach habitat) but also ongoing maintenance activities. As a primary project outcome, the MRC and Snohomish County Surface Water Management will lead the effort to identify and prioritize potential restoration projects that benefit Chinook salmon and forage fish within the project study area.
At the conclusion of the stakeholder process, two restoration approaches for specific sites within the project area were selected for development of a 30% design. The approaches include Howarth Park Beach Restoration and sediment placement at three key locations. The 30% designs and report will be completed in December 2011.
The project team continues to work on identifying project leads for design implementation and facilitating coordination. Significant progress has been made with NOAA, the USACE, the Port of Everett, the City of Everett, and the Tulalip Tribes to move the project forward. In October 2011, NOAA included the sites identified through the Snohomish MRC Nearshore Sediment Study as a recommended use for clean dredged material from the Snohomish River. The sites were included in the permit letter sent to Evan Lewis of the USACE from Will Stelle, NOAA’s Regional Administrator.
The railroad located along the nearshore (locally spanning 26 miles of nearshore from Seattle to Everett) causes habitat loss both through direct fill and by disrupting the habitat-forming processes of sediment delivery and transport. Extensive loss of mid-upper-beach habitat and a shift in the sediment composition of remaining beach habitat impacts forage fish dependant on these areas for spawning grounds. The disconnection of riparian areas from the beach and shallow marine waters degrades nearshore food-webs. Low-gradient shoreline loss negatively impacts salmon that use these areas for migration.
Click here to download the Nearshore Sediment Study fact sheet.
Forage Fish Spawning Surveys
In conjunction with the nearshore sediment study, the MRC is conducting pre-restoration monitoring of forage fish spawning within the project reach. Surveys conducted during the winter of 2011-2012 will look for the presence or absence of Surf smelt and Sand lance eggs. The results of the study will update forage fish spawning information for Snohomish County and provide baseline data for the proposed restoration activities. Partners in the forage fish monitoring study include WSU Snohomish County Extension Beach Watchers who are leading the volunteer training, Dan Penttila, and Pentec Environmental.
View footage by 5th Life Productions of Sand Lance spawning. This is valuable imagery as so little is known about these fish.
NWSC Benchmarks Achieved:
Marine Habitat, Science, Education & Outreach