Friends of the San Juans restores shorelines on San Juan and Lopez Islands

  • Fri Nov 6th, 2009 11:59pm
  • News

Left: Before restoration of the shoreline.

Through the implementation of two shoreline restoration projects on San Juan and Lopez Islands, marine habitats that support forage fish, salmon and orca will improve. The two projects were initially identified through habitat restoration surveys completed in 2006 and are part of Friends of the San Juans ongoing efforts to work with landowners to remove unnecessary shoreline modifications. “After three years of project identification, landowner outreach, funding requests, project engineering and design, and permitting…it is very rewarding to finally achieve on-the-ground habitat improvements at these two sites.” said Tina Whitman, Friends of the San Juans Science Director and Restoration Project Manager.

San Juan Island Salt Marsh Restoration: Last week, along San Juan Island’s Turn Point Road, an unnecessary rock wall was removed and a critical wetland and potential forage fish spawning beach were restored. After eleven dump truck loads were taken away from the upper beach and salt marsh habitat, clean pea gravel and sand were used to nourish the beach. Impacted wetland plants were then replanted along the new marsh face. The restored beach now provides suitable forage fish spawning substrate and the wetland and the marine environment are reconnected. Jim Johannessen and his staff at Coastal Geologic Services completed the restoration assessments and designs. The project was funded through a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grant. Friends wishes to thank the landowners, the Ruckelshaus Family, for their willingness to complete the project and provide matching funds for the implementation.

Lopez Island Creosote Pile Removal: Two weeks ago, 13 derelict creosote piles were removed from intertidal and shallow subtidal waters within Barlow Bay. Barlow Bay is a priority nearshore marine habitat area with eelgrass, sand lance and surf smelt spawning beaches, and out-migrating juvenile salmon. In 2008, Friends of the San Juans, Coastal Geologic Services and local residents completed a comprehensive community restoration planning process. The removal of the derelict creosote pilings is the first, early action, restoration project to be completed of the many identified in the plan. “Barlow Bay is recovering from it’s hey day, when salmon was king and infrastructure filled the bay. With the help of the Friends of the San Juans, Barlow Bay’s water quality, forage fish spawning beaches, clam and oysters, and eelgrass prairies are benefiting from removal of derelict fishing infrastructure. As a resident of the area, I am delighted to see restoration begin.” said Lopez Islander, San Olson, who has helped advance restoration actions in the bay. The project was funded through a National Fish and Wildlife Service’s Community Salmon Fund grant. Friends wishes to thank to the multiple private residential landowners and the Tulalip Tribes for supporting the restoration actions on their tidelands.

Friends of the San Juans has numerous additional shoreline habitat restoration projects in the final design, permitting and implementation planning phases and also works on protection projects. For more information on how you can help protect and restore local shorelines and support marine ecosystem recovery visit their website: or call 360-378-2319.