Fir Island Farm Estuary Restoration

CLIENTWashington Department of Fish and Wildlife

Location Skagit River Delta, WA

The Fir Island Farm Estuary Restoration project is located on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Fir Island Farm Snow Goose Reserve, within the Skagit River delta.

The Skagit River is the largest tributary to Puget Sound and is home to ten salmonid species, including Chinook salmon that were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1999. Chinook smolts rely on estuaries for food and protection as they transition from fresh water to salt water. The Skagit delta has lost approximately 85 percent of the historic estuary; in 2005 the Skagit River Chinook Recovery Plan identified estuary habitat as an important limiting factor for recovery.

A key challenge with estuary restoration in the Skagit delta is that the areas most important for Chinook are also some of the most agriculturally productive farmland in the world. Local farms can support up to 80 different crops varieties and are a major worldwide producer of vegetable seeds. However, much of the farmland is sub-tidal and reliant on a complex system of dikes and drainage infrastructure.

The project’s design balances the needs of fish and farmers by addressing risks and developing contingencies for coastal flood protection and drainage infrastructure that have both project related and long-term impacts from climate change and sea level rise. Project design elements included a mile-long dike setback, 9,000 gpm pump station, five tidegates, a 50 acre-foot storage pond, and restoration of 130 acres of estuary habitat. Our team developed partnerships to facilitate project design development and agreements between the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the consultant team, the restoration community and granting agencies, as well as the dike and drainage district and farm community. These partnerships resulted in the completion of the highly successful, large-scale, $16 million Fir Island Farm Estuary Restoration Project.

water Dams / Levees Rivers / Shorelines / Wetlands
Laboratory Instrumentation Geotechnical Engineering Natural Resources Water Resources Construction Management


ACEC Washington 2017 Gold Award Water Resources

ACEC National 2017 National Recognition Award Water Resources


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