The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) owns approximately 264 acres of upland in the vicinity of Browns Slough, Dry Slough and Claude Davis Slough (Fir Island Farm) in the Skagit River delta that is currently managed as a reserve for Snow Geese. Approximately 240 acres of the site are farmed. Natural tidal exchange to the site has been eliminated by dikes running along the bay front and along the southeastern side of Browns Slough. This altered tidal prism combined with deposition of sediment eroded from adjacent farm fields has greatly reduced tidal channel and marsh habitat compared to historic conditions both inside and outside of the dikes. Currently there are tide gates that allow for upland drainage but block fish passage through the dikes at Browns Slough, Claude O. Davis Slough and Dry Slough. The historic connection between Claude O. Davis Slough and Dry Slough has also been eliminated.
With the assistance of a Steering Committee composed of local partners and stakeholders, different alternatives to restore tidal processes, tidal marsh habitat and tidal channel habitat at the Fir Island Farm site will be evaluated and a preferred restoration alternative selected. The different restoration alternatives evaluated by the feasibility study will range from replacing existing tide gates with self regulating tide gates to varying degrees of relocating the existing tide gates and flood dikes to more landward configurations. All of the restoration alternatives evaluated by the feasibility study will ensure that the drainage capacity, flood protection and salt intrusion protection for the surrounding farms are maintained. Snow geese management, agriculture production and public access interests will also be considered in selecting a preferred restoration alternative. Public outreach will inform the development and selection of a preferred restoration alternative. General study information will be posted on WDFW’s web site and study progress will be updated monthly. WDFW will have two open house events where interested parties will have an opportunity to review and comment on the feasibility study.
The objective of the proposed Fir Island Restoration Feasibility Study is to develop and evaluate restoration alternatives for the Fir Island Farm site and develop a preliminary design for a preferred restoration alternative.
While the restoration goals of the feasibility study are focused on restoring estuary processes and habitats beneficial to fish and wildlife, the related goals consider land and human uses.
Restoration of tidal flooding (natural process).
Restoration of unrestricted movement of water, sediments, nutrients, detritus and organism.
Restoration of native tidal marsh habitat.
Restoration of tidal channel habitat.
Restoration of fish passage.
Restoration of estuary rearing habitat for ESA-listed species.
Restoration of estuary habitat for fish and wildlife species.
Minimize impacts to adjacent private landowners.
Maintain a public parking area.
Maintain public uses.
Maintain or improve the existing drainage, salt intrusion protection and flood protection.