Port Susan Bay Restoration

Stanwood, WA

The Nature Conservancy, an environmental group that owns approximately 4,000 acres of tidelands in Port Susan, hired NWC to remove a man-made dike that seals off the bay from 150 acres of former estuary. A local farmer built the 1.4-mile-long dike in the 1950s in an attempt to keep saltwater out of his farmland. Not only was it unsuccessful, it has also kept the area north of the mouth of the Stillaguamish River shut off from tidal influence and forced fresh water from the river southward for more than 50 years. The impact has deprived the habitat from the right mix of nutrients needed by plants and animals.

NWC will begin to remedy the situation by removing the existing dike and constructing a new dike to the east to serve as the new boundary between the bay and adjoining farmland. The Nature Conservancy estimates that the habitat will restore itself in about five years.

This project generates a mix of saltwater and freshwater, creating nutritive estuarine marshes, and improves the ability of fish caught in floodwaters to return to the natural system.

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