Conserving land along our waterways protects important habitat and helps keep our rivers healthy, clean, and more resilient to drought. Riparian Protection projects conserve and restore fresh and saltwater habitat while protecting fish habitat. In doing so, the grants help provide our families, farms, and fisheries with clean water across the state.
The Stillaguamish River supports a regionally important fishery that is at risk. Of the 5 species of salmon in the watershed, 2 (chinook and coho) are listed by state and tribal agencies as “depressed.” Nonpoint pollution has closed commercial shellfish beds at the river’s outlet. Pollution problems prompted the Department of Ecology to fund an early action watershed plan. The 1990 plan (which included habitat actions) continues to be actively implemented under the guidance of the citizen/agency Stillaguamish Implementation Review Committee (SIRC). This application arises from a 2-year effort by the SIRC and its member organizations to identify priority habitat protection and restoration sites. Studies helped set priorities. The Tulalip Tribe’s coho habitat loss study (1997) found that a lack of rearing habitat severely restricts coho production. A related study by the Corps of Engineers (1997) identified 3 sloughs on the mainstem as priority rearing habitat restoration sites. This application proposes purchase of conservation easements on the 3 sloughs. This will protect 105 acres of Riparian Protection habitat as a key step in slough restoration. Eventually, 4600 lineal feet of valuable off-channel rearing habitat will be restored using other funds. Through easements and future restoration projects, coho production could increase by an estimated 50,000 smolts/year while providing quality habitat for waterfowl, migratory birds, and other wildlife.