Habitat to improve for Duwamish River salmon
By Environmental News Network staff
(ENN) -- Migrating chinook salmon will soon enjoy better living conditions along the Duwamish River where it winds its way through south Seattle.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will re-create, restore and preserve more than 16 acres of aquatic and nearshore habitat at the former site of Seabord Lumber. NOAA's Damage Assessment and Restoration Program specialists will work with Native American tribes and other natural resource trustees in Washington to complete the job.
The $4.6 million project is the largest restoration action undertaken to date by the Elliot Bay/Duwamish Restoration Program panel.
"This site will provide another natural habitat refuge in the midst of a highly industrialized area to help migrating salmon along the Duwamish River," said Terry Garcia, assistant secretary of Commerce for oceans and atmosphere and deputy NOAA administrator. "This project is in line with NOAA's continuing commitment to restore and improve critical marine habitat and also supports the goals of the International Year of the Ocean."
During the past century, approximately 98 percent of salt marshes and tideflats were filled and converted to industrial land in this portion of the lower Duwamish River.
"We strongly support this project as a major step forward in NOAA's efforts to restore salmon populations in the Duwamish watershed," said Will Stelle, Northwest regional administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service. "Loss of habitat is a major cause of depleted salmon runs in the Pacific Northwest."
The Seaboard Lumber restoration site is the third of nine projects to move forward under the 1991 Elliot Bay/Duwamish Restoration Program as part of a Natural Resources Damage Assessment settlement with the City of Seattle and King County Department of Natural Resources. The EB/DRP is administered by NOAA, the City of Seattle, the King County Department of Natural Resources, the Suquamish Tribe, the Muckleshoot Tribe, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Washington Department of Ecology.
The plans call for removing existing concrete foundations, pavement, railroad spurs and dock; grading the land to appropriate elevations; installing plants to establish a tidal marsh; adding a small parking lot; crushed rock pathways and an informational kiosk to educate the public about the importance of the fish and wildlife habitat area.
The restoration and revegetation work will restore estuarine wetlands that once existed as industrial land along the lower Duwamish River, and will also create intertidal habitat, which should be beneficial to juvenile out-migrating Chinook salmon.
This project will provide a desperately-needed soft bottom, off-channel, intertidal environment, which is necessary to juveniles for feeding, acclimating to salt water and finding protection from predation, according to NOAA.
Linda Hammons, project coordinator for the city of Seattle, emphasized the significance of the project location, pointing out that it is just north of Kellogg Island, a substantial remnant of the once extensive wetlands that characterized the mouth of the Duwamish River and also adjacent to Terminal 107.
The Port of Seattle, which owns both Kellogg Island and Terminal 107, has set aside and undertaken habitat restoration activities on both sites to benefit fish and wildlife.
This project and other activities designed to enhance habitat along the urban waterways have been well supported by local citizens.
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