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

Restoration project impacts studied

Snohomish County is one step closer to construction of a large-scale salmon project on Smith Island.

 


Snohomish County and its partners are ready to move forward with the Smith Island Restoration Project following last week’s release of a final environmental impact statement.

The project is intended to improve critical habitat for Chinook and other salmon species in the Snohomish River basin by providing food and shelter for thousands of juvenile salmon making their way to the ocean each year, while also protecting the viability of local agriculture.

The price tag for the work is estimated at $18 million, with most of the funding provided by grants from various environmental and wildlife agencies within the state. The project is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2014.

“Both salmon and farming are vitally important to our history and our quality of life,” said Snohomish County Executive John Lovick in a written statement. “Moving forward on this project demonstrates our commitment to supporting our local farmers and protecting the natural resources that make this county such a great place to live.”

Snohomish County withdrew its initial environmental impact statement, which had been given a Determination of Non-Significance, in late June 2013 to add more technical details. The withdrawal followed appeals by the local diking district and county farm bureau.

In the mid-1800s, Smith Island was a productive estuary for juvenile salmon. The county’s restoration project proposes to restore roughly 400 acres of historic tidal marshlands by removing sections of a 1930s-era dike and constructing a new dike that will improve flood protection for Interstate 5, neighboring businesses and farmland. The site is bounded by Union Slough to the east and north, I-5 to the west, and Everett’s wastewater treatment plant to the south.

According to a Snohomish County press release, the Smith Island Restoration Project is one part of Snohomish County’s Sustainable Lands Strategy, which balances the need to restore vital salmon habitat and protect the viability of local agriculture. Both farming and salmon production play a key role in the history, culture and economy of Snohomish County and can be protected through sustainable land projects.

The restoration project has attracted widespread support from federal, state and local agencies, many of which have provided funding and resources, including Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration Fund, Tulalip Tribes, Puget Sound Partnership, NOAA Restoration Center, Salmon Recovery Funding Board, Estuary and Salmon Restoration Program, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, City of Everett and Snohomish County.

 

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