Estuary Restoration

We are committed to restoring the Swan Lake Watershed to its optimal, bio-diverse, fish-friendly, natural state. The cornerstone of this effort is to improve access for juvenile salmon and other salmonid species to Swan Lake and nearby uplands by enhancing the tidal connection to the high-energy, oxygen-rich, marine waters off West Beach.

Currently, the lake is connected to the marine waters of Puget Sound by a poorly-functioning, limiting, tide-gate and an inadequate culvert system. They prevent normal marine flushing and fish access. Our goal is to restore and enhance this valuable salt marsh for maximum biodiversity. The system remains relatively intact but is threatened by growth in the adjacent Oak Harbor watershed.

It is likely that restoration of this estuarine wetland will be successful for salmon and other flora and fauna. Targeted salmon stock include juvenile Chinook, Chum, Coho and Cutthroat that will be seeking forage fish and refuge at this important junction of Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan De Fuca. Our vision is to restore a damaged site to health at relatively little expense.

In partnership with the Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group (SFEG), we applied for and received a Washington State Salmon Recovery Funding Board (SRFB) grant of almost $25,000 for a preliminary study of the feasibility of establishing an enhanced tidal connection. This study was completed Sept. 14, 2010 by Coastal Geologic Services Inc., of Bellingham. It outlines the considerations surrounding several options ranging from no action to an open channel or an engineered opening through the berm. Preliminary Feasibility Study PDF (larger file 13.5 mb).

The preliminary feasibility study concludes that the habitat enhancement potential for this site is high and recommends a more comprehensive feasibility assessment to include much more detailed mapping, assessment of wave and littoral drift, habitat mapping, wetland hydrology assessment, and more thorough analysis of several other components including detailed feasibility of several alternatives.

During recent studies conducted by Shappart, amphipodes, Pacific Staghorn Sculplin and three Spine Stickleback were found in just one seining.

Shappart’s Report, Meridian Environmental Fish Survey, 2007 (PDF)

Island County Estuarine Restoration Program (PDF)

Water levels, May 2008 - January 2009 (Photos)

2013 Wave Climate, Sediment Transport, and Inlet Analysis for Swan Lake

2013 Hydraulic Modeling and Fish Passage Analysis for Swan Lake report

SculpinPacific Staghorn Sculplin caught at Swan Lake

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