OLYMPIA – This week, scientists with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will fly a drone over sections of marine shoreline at McNeil Island in South Puget Sound to collect information to support habitat restoration work.
“By using a drone, we have the opportunity to conduct restoration monitoring safely, while also efficiently providing a view of extensive wetlands that would not be possible otherwise,” said Jane Atha, WDFW scientist. “We will focus our drone flights at sites where the Department is working to design projects to re-establish former tideland habitat.”
Atha said they will fly the drone between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. for approximately 30 to 60-minute periods within the four-day window (April 13-16) at the Milewa Estuary, Floyds Cove, and Bodley Creek.
WDFW scientists use drones to better understand how restored estuary habitat changes over time and to determine if restoration projects are functioning as designed.
Over 70% of McNeil Island is managed by WDFW for conservation as part of the South Puget Sound Wildlife Area. Wildlife area manager Darric Lowery said WDFW is continuing habitat restoration work on the island in partnership with the Washington Department of Natural Resources, Washington Department of Corrections, and Washington Department of Social and Health Services.
The Milewa Estuary Restoration Project, expected to go to construction this summer, will be the fourth marine shoreline habitat restoration project completed at McNeil Island since 2015. The project will restore fish passage and estuarine habitat to benefit salmon and other wildlife.
WDFW is the primary state agency tasked with preserving, protecting, and perpetuating fish and wildlife and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing and hunting opportunities.