Fir Island: Collaborative Restoration for Salmon, Wildlife and People

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Big habitat gains were celebrated at the June 30th groundbreaking for a restoration project at the Fir Island Farms Unit of the Skagit Wildlife Area.

Written by Cailin Mackenzie, GLOBE Intern
Photographs by Jason Wettstein, Washingon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife

“This kind of project takes real collaboration,” said Bob Everett, from Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), and this collaboration will provide exponential benefits to the five native salmon species that call Skagit delta home.

This $16.4 million project, led by WDFW, will restore 131 acres of tidal marsh habitat and set back 5800 feet of existing dike, moving about 10,000 truckloads of dirt along the way. The restoration will provide enduring benefit not only for salmon recovery, but also for agriculture and communities.

Jessie Israel, The Nature Conservancy’s Director of Puget Sound Conservation pictured fourth from the right, lauds the project team’s partnership on large-scale restoration with lasting environmental impact. “That’s the only way we’re really going to get things done.”

The large scale of this project would not have been possible without broad and synergetic collaboration. The Nature Conservancy worked with WDFW, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Puget Sound Partnership, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Estuary and Salmon Restoration Program, along with other invaluable partners, to simultaneously restore habitat for migrating juvenile Chinook, protect against saltwater intrusion to farmland, and ensure public access for bird watching.

The Fir Island project closely aligns with The Nature Conservancy’s conservation strategies – we are committed to fruitful teamwork that secures victories for humans, animals, and nature alike.