North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

By Mel Sheldon
Tulalip Tribes Chairman 

Qwuloolt restoration an example of strong partnerships

 


It is a pleasure to be part of Building Bridges, a rotating column between the Tulalip Tribes, City of Marysville, and the Marysville School District. This column provides an opportunity to share with the Tulalip and Marysville communities the work our two governments are doing to ensure our part of the region remains a wonderful place to live, work and raise our families. We lift our hands to the North County Outlook for providing this forum.

The Tulalip Tribes, along with the City of Marysville, Army Corps of Engineers, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Washington State Department of Ecology, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service have been working in partnership to purchase, plan and restore critical salmon habitat on 400 acres of marshland located in Marysville. The project site is called Qwuloolt—a Lushootseed word for marsh.

After nearly two decades of discussion, planning, compromise and habitat work, we have arrived at a critical juncture in our joint project.

The Army Corps of Engineers will soon break ground and begin the next phase of the restoration effort, which includes building a setback levee to protect surrounding properties from flooding, followed by several months of preparation to breech the existing levee, which has separated Qwuloolt from the natural estuary system for over a century.

Qwuloolt is the second largest restoration project of its kind in the state of Washington and represents what can be achieved when we work together for a common goal. As co-managers of Qwuloolt, the Tulalip Tribes and the City of Marysville will continue to work together to ensure the project’s success.

This area was once one of the most productive salmon fisheries in the Puget Sound. The ancestors of the Tulalip Tribes built a strong and thriving salmon economy over thousands of years. Today we are bound by traditions and our ancient relationship to salmon to do what is necessary to protect this great resource.

The benefits of a healthy Qwuloolt to the Tulalip Tribes, the City of Marysville, and the region are abundant.

As the estuary recovers, it will become a refuge for threatened and endangered Chinook and other fish, including rearing habitat for juvenile salmon, and open up access to 16 miles of spawning tributaries further upstream. Restoring the natural estuary function will allow the mixing of freshwater and saltwater to support plants, fish, and wildlife that live between the Snohomish River and the Puget Sound.

Qwuloolt will also present an opportunity for a whole generation of K-12 students who will have the access to the project site through outreach and education programs on science and the environment. They will bear witness to the results of our partnership, which we hope will provide a roadmap for future generations to work together on issues that affect both communities.

Thanks to the commitment, dedication, and perseverance of the partnership and advocates such as Senator Maria Cantwell and Representative Rick Larsen (and many more), a restored Qwuloolt is within sight.

 

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