Duckabush Estuary Restoration Project

Project news

Duckaubsh Estuary Aerial Photo
Aerial view of the Duckabush Estuary  WA Department of Ecology WA Department of Ecology

Expect an increase in activity in and around the estuary through Summer 2021. Field researchers will be collecting data about water and soil conditions and cultural and archaeological resources on WDFW-managed lands and adjacent privately-owned properties. Equipment used for fieldwork activities will typically be hand-held (such as shovels or augers) with limited use of larger, tracked machinery. The design team will use the data collected to help advance the project design from conceptual towards 35% design.

Review the final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the Duckabush Estuary Restoration project. The final SEIS was released in Summer 2020 and includes responses to comments received on the draft SEIS. For more information on the Duckabush State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) process, visit the Duckabush Environmental Review webpage.

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Project background

WDFW, in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group (HCSEG), is proposing a restoration project on the Duckabush River estuary in Jefferson County. The project would occur primarily on public land at the Duckabush Wildlife Area Unit managed by WDFW.  

The project would reconnect the Duckabush River to neighboring floodplains and wetlands by modifying local roads and elevating Highway 101 onto a bridge spanning the area where freshwater from the Duckabush River meets saltwater of Hood Canal.  

The Duckabush River estuary is currently impacted by fill, dikes, and road infrastructure, which blocks water channels and limits critical habitat for fish and wildlife, including endangered salmon species.

Chum Salmon
Chum salmon, a species that would benefit from estuary restoration Morgan Bond

This project would contribute to a Puget Sound-wide objective to restore river deltas and their wetlands. Over 50% of historical wetlands (57,823 acres) in Puget Sound’s 16 largest river deltas have been eliminated by development, which means there is significantly less natural habitat available for fish and wildlife to survive and thrive. 

Fortunately, the Duckabush estuary provides a valuable opportunity to restore important habitat that would provide long-lasting benefits to fish, wildlife, and people.  

Project-specific objectives

  • Reconnect and restore estuarine and freshwater tidal wetlands.
  • Re-establish channels to promote greater diversity of delta wetland habitats.
  • Restore mudflats and salt marsh.

Anticipated project benefits

  • Improved estuarine habitat for fish, birds, and wildlife, including endangered Hood Canal summer chum and chinook salmon, which is a main food source for endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales (Orcas).
  • Modernized highway design with updated safety features.
  • Improved opportunity for natural filtration of water flowing through the estuary.
  • Reduced seasonal flooding by eliminating existing water bottlenecks and allowing for natural tidal flows.

Community engagement

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is committed to sharing timely project information with the local community, stakeholders, tribes and government agencies, as well as providing opportunities for comment during project planning.

Community events

Public Open House 

  • Feb. 8, 2020 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. | at Brinnon School (46 Schoolhouse Rd., Brinnon, WA 98320)

SEPA Scoping Meeting (See the Duckabush SEPA page for more information.)

  • July 13, 2019 from 9:30 - 11:30 a.m. | Brinnon School (46 Schoolhouse Rd., Brinnon, WA 98320) 
  • Meeting materials: SEPA scoping public meeting presentation and posters

Project newsletters

News releases


Conceptual project design

A conceptual project design was developed as part of the Puget Sound Nearshore Ecosystem Restoration Project (PSNERP). The current design partnership with USACE, in conjunction with WSDOT and HCSEG, will incorporate site-specific data and public input to refine the conceptual design.

Project features include:

  • Relocate and elevate Highway 101 upstream to allow wetland habitat to be connected.
  • Remove existing Highway 101 fill, bridges and roadway to allow channels and wetlands to reconnect.
  • Remove levees/berms to allow channel migration.
  • Improve intersection of Highway 101 and Duckabush Road.
  • Modify Shorewood Road at Pierce Slough.
  • Excavate channels, increase habitat complexity, and plant native vegetation.

View the project's conceptual design.