Construction Progressing at Fir Island Farm

Conservation in action along the Skagit River

Written and Photographed by Jenny Baker, Senior Restoration Manager

Fir Island Farm estuary restoration is underway and the site is a hub of activity. Jenna Friebel, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Project Manager, reports:

We are about half-way done with year-one construction. We are importing 4,200 tons of dike material, or 150-175 truck and trailer-loads, per day; and IMCO Construction has about 40 people working on-site 5-6 days per week.

The project, which is located in the Skagit River delta west of Conway began earlier this summer and will continue through summer 2016, with funding from Puget Sound Partnership, NOAA, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and The Nature Conservancy (15 percent is federally funded). 

This summer a setback dike, drainage infrastructure and marsh channels are being constructed. Next summer the existing dike will be removed restoring 130-acres of tidal marsh and channels, and opening up critical habitat for endangered juvenile chinook salmon! See the progress of the construction in the slideshow above:

The first step in constructing the new setback dike is to strip away the sod. Seen in Photograph 1.

After stripping sod from the dike footprint, the construction company lays down a geotextile material and then places and compacts imported soil to form the dike. Seen in Photograph 2.

The setback dike is protected from wind and waves on the bay-side with fabric and rock, and then covered with soil.  Later this summer it will be seeded with grass. Seen in Photograph 3.

Drainage is important to maintain the productivity of farmland on Fir Island. A pond was constructed to provide additional storage for water draining from Fir Island. From here the water will either drain out through new tidegates or be pumped out through a new pump station into the restored estuary. Seen in Photograph 4.

Learn more about our work on Puget Sound.