Snohomish Estuary Project Prioritization

Setting goals for the next estuary restoration project

Shows locations of Spencer Island, North Ebey, and DD6 properties
Photo by WDFW
Spencer Island, North Ebey, and DD6 properties, along with dike locations (white lines) in the Snohomish River estuary.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is setting priorities and building momentum for a future large estuary restoration site in the Snohomish River estuary. This project will assess feasibility and recommend how and where to advance ecosystem restoration on three properties: Spencer Island (429 acres), the north tip of Ebey Island (191 acres), and a property known as "DD6" (426 acres). 

Each of these properties are located in historic tidal wetland in the Snohomish River delta. Tidal flow on these properties is either restricted or eliminated by perimeter dikes and tide gates that lie directly between the project areas and tidal waters. The entire project area is publicly owned, either by WDFW or Snohomish County.

Tidal marsh in the lower Snohomish River provides important rearing habitat for Chinook salmon and other species. However, 90% of these historic estuary habitats were lost due to diking. This loss of rearing habitat is considered one of the primary factors limiting recovery of Chinook salmon, which are listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.

The Snohomish Basin Salmon Recovery Forum has identified the restoration of tidally influenced habitat in the Snohomish River estuary as a priority for Chinook salmon recovery in the basin.

Led by WDFW and facilitated by Triangle Associates, an advisory group will meet from December 2020 to March 2021 to identify hurdles and benefits for restoration on each property. When complete, WDFW and Triangle will compile the results into a project prioritization report that recommends which property to focus on for the next restoration effort. This document will recognize hurdles to restoration and will scope what may be needed to overcome them in a subsequent planning and design phase. The report is intended to be used to secure funding and focus energy and efforts towards the next large project within the Snohomish estuary. 

Advisory group

The advisory group consists of local governments, tribes, and partner organizations that have an interest or a responsibility for what takes part on the three properties being considered. Advisory group members include staff from the following organizations:

  • Snohomish County Surface Water Management
  • Snohomish County Parks
  • City of Everett
  • Washington State Department of Transportation
  • Puget Sound Energy
  • Tulalip Tribes
  • Snoqualmie Tribe
  • NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
  • Snohomish Basin Lead Entity
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Ducks Unlimited
  • Hart Crowser for Port of Everett

Advisory group meetings will take place from December 2020 to March 2021. To view the meeting summaries and materials, visit the advisory group webpage. 

Public engagement

This prioritization process is the precursor to a more in-depth feasibility process and public engagement effort and we are not taking formal public comment at this time. We will update this webpage when the prioritization report is complete and a focal project has been chosen.

If you would like more information, have questions, or would like to discuss the project, please contact Loren Brokaw at Loren.Brokaw@dfw.wa.gov or 425-697-0687.