WDFW breaches dike at Fir Island Farms Estuary to benefit fish, farmers and wildlife


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News release

Jenna Friebel, (360) 466-4345 ext. 250, cell: (425) 985-1959

Mount Vernon - Ocean water flowed across 131 acres at Fir Island Farms estuary today for the first time in recent memory. 

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and partners breached a 3,110 foot long dike in a culminating effort to restore estuary habitat for juvenile chinook salmon in north Puget Sound.

Initiated in 2009, the Fir Island Farms estuary restoration project is also designed to protect agricultural land while preserving the established snow goose reserve, said WDFW Hydrologist and project manager, Jenna Friebel. 

“The dike breach was a pivotal moment for salmon in the region,” said Friebel.  “We expect this work to contribute to chinook recovery in Puget Sound for years to come, as well as provide new opportunities for bird watchers and other nature enthusiasts.”

WDFW and partners were aiming to restore tidal processes that bring water, sediment and nutrients into the marsh for the benefit of fish and wildlife, said Friebel. “We also worked to ensure the project provides a high level of flood protection and drainage for the adjacent farmland, and we retained land for snow geese.”

Funding partners include WDFW, The Nature Conservancy, Puget Sound Partnership, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Approximately 15 percent ($2.31 million) of this $16.4 million project has been funded with federal dollars.

Project support was also provided by the Skagit County Consolidated Diking and Drainage Improvement District #22, Skagit Watershed Council, and the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office, among others.

High resolution photos of the event are available at: http://wdfw.wa.gov/lands/wildlife_areas/skagit/fir_island_marine_dike_removal.php.

Request this information in an alternative format or language at wdfw.wa.gov/accessibility/requests-accommodation, 833-885-1012, TTY (711), or CivilRightsTeam@dfw.wa.gov.