Larsen Bill to Support Estuary Restoration Moves Forward

Source: Larsen.House.gov
 
WASHINGTON—A bill to provide continued funding to improve estuaries in the Puget Sound region that Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02, introduced passed the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee today. Larsen introduced the bipartisan bill with Rep. Frank LoBiondo, NJ-02 earlier this summer. H.R. 5266 would reauthorize the National Estuary Program through 2018, funding local efforts to restore and protect sensitive estuaries and their wildlife.
 
“Estuaries are a critical habitat for salmon, birds and many other species in the Pacific Northwest, where we know that protecting our natural resources is good for both the environment and the economy. In addition to improving salmon habitat, restoring estuaries can have important carbon sequestration effects, as a recent report on the Snohomish Estuary found. Healthy estuaries support our strong fishing industry and are one of the many draws for tourists who visit Northwest Washington because of recreational opportunities. This bill will continue federal support for local efforts to keep these sensitive habitats vital today and for future generations.
 
“I have long supported estuary restoration in the Puget Sound region, like the Qwuloolt Estuary Restoration Project, which will be one of the largest tidal marsh restoration projects ever completed in our state when it is finished.
 
“I am pleased to work with Rep. LoBiondo on this bipartisan bill that will ensure local organizations across the country can continue their work to protect and restore estuaries,” Larsen said.
 
Funding from the National Estuary Program, which is administered by the Environmental Protection Agency, helps build the comprehensive plan for Puget Sound recovery through the Puget Sound Partnership.

Larsen Announces Funding for Skagit Valley Flood Study and Qwuloolt Estuary Restoration

 
 Press Release, U.S. Representative Rick Larsen
WASHINGTON—Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02, announced $760,000 in funding for local flood protection and estuary restoration projects. The Skagit General Investigation (G.I) Study will be receiving $400,000 and the Qwuloolt Estuary Restoration Project will be receiving $360,000. Citing the need for long-term flood protection in the Skagit River valley, Larsen pressed the Army Corps for funding last month.
 
“Communities in Skagit County have stayed focused on getting the G.I. Study finished,” Larsen said. “This ongoing commitment from the Army Corps is great news and sends a clear message that the federal government is going to keep its agreement in Skagit County. 
 
“The Qwuloolt Estuary Restoration Project will be the largest tidal marsh restoration project ever completed in our state. This project is not just about protecting the environment. It is about protecting our economy. Restoring the estuary will enhance the role of fishing in our economy and keep a commitment to our tribal and city partners and provide critical habitat for salmon.”
 
More information on the Army Corps’ announcement of funding is available here.

Qwuloolt restoration in its final phase

By Monica Brown Tulalip News Writer

State and local politicians along with environmentalists toured the estuary while learning about the extensive undertakings that are part of the complex project that will restore the estuary to it's natural function. Photo by Monica Brown

State and local politicians along with environmentalists toured the estuary while learning about the extensive undertakings that are part of the complex project that will restore the estuary to it’s natural function. Photo by Monica Brown

Tulalip, Wash. –

Restoring 400 acres of estuary land is not a mediocre task and has required years of dedication from many groups. The complexity of the restoration project has spanned fourteen years and is nearing completion. With just over a year left in the project the, the final stage is to  lower the southern levee and remove the tide gate.

The tide gate and levee drain the fresh water from the land and prevent any water from flowing back into the estuary. With the completion this winter of the setback levee on the western side, the southern levee, which runs along the northern edge of Ebey Slough, will be breached and the tide gate removed allowing the saline and fresh water to mix.

The Tulalip Tribes, along with the City of Marysville, Army Corps of Engineers, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Washington State Department of Ecology, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service have collaborated on this project and representatives were invited along with local and state politicians to view the progress that has been made.

Visitors were led into the estuary and taken on a brief walk to view the channel opening. Afterwards they were invited to the Hibulb Cultural Center for lunch and a discussion the estuary project in its final stage.

The restoration’s completion is expected to increase the salmon and migratory bird population and bolster the native vegetation in the area.

The collaboration between tribal, local, county, state, and federal agencies will restore the natural water flow in the 400 acre estuary. Photo By Monica Brown

The collaboration between tribal, local, county, state, and federal agencies will restore the natural water flow in the 400 acre estuary. Photo By Monica Brown

 

Mel Sheldon, Tulalip board chairman, reminisced during the lunch after the tour about when the project was just getting started 14 years ago. Photo by Monica Brown

Mel Sheldon, Tulalip board chairman, reminisced during the lunch after the tour about when the project was just getting started 14 years ago. Photo by Monica Brown

 

 

 

Earth Day celebration at the Qwuloolt Estuary

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Qwuloolt Estuary Restoration Project and earth Day Celebration

Article by Monica Brown

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Ecologist Walter Rung demonstrates how to plant a native tree.
Photo by Monica Brown

TULALIP, Wash. – Community members chose to celebrate Earth Day on April 20th, by helping plant native trees and shrubs in the Qwuloolt Estuary located on the South end of Marysville. The Adopt a Stream Foundation (AASF) is guiding this portion of the project by planting the native trees and shrubs which have been made possible by a grant from the Washington State Department of Ecology through a $250,000 Allen Creek Grant. The main focus of the grant is  to work with and  inform nearby homeowners that live near the Allen Creek watershed about the restoration project. Walter Rung, Ecologist from the AASF says “We are going to door to door and talking to them about ways to help improve water quality in the creeks.”

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A plastic shield is placed around the tree in order to help it thrive and prevent it from being cut down when the invasive species are removed from the area.
Photo by Monica Brown

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A peek iside that the freshly planted tree.
Photo by Monica Brown

The expected outcome of  the restoration project is to raise the population of salmon, and migratory birds that inhabit the Qwuloolt Estuary and it’s tributaries. Planting native vegetation is one way of helping to improve water quality. CK Eidem from the AASF informs, “Today we’re putting in about 100 potted stalk and 100 live stakes; potted stalk are potted plants and live stakes are a cutting from a tree which will grow into a shrub if planted at the right time of year,”

Other environmental changes are being made such as improving natural channel formation  and eventually removing the tide gate. The tide gate is located just south of the storm water Treatment Facility and should be taken down within a year.

“We’re expecting once they remove the tide gate that there will be a lot more salmon in the creek,” said Walter Rung.

At the estuary project, informational booths and speakers informed people about how to protect the estuary and streams in the area by simple methods of not using toxic chemicals in their yards for weed control, disposing of pet droppings properly and regular maintenance their septic systems. Staff from Tulalip Tribes Natural Resources Department explained the stages and reason of the restoration project and provided delicious samples of Sitka Spruce tea and Nettle Tea.

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Josh Meidav and Kelly Finley hosted The Tulalip Tribes booth.
Photo by Monica Brown

This project has been made possible through a large partnership between The Tulalip Tribes, City of Marysville, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, Sound Transit, Wash. Dept of Fish and Wildlife, Wash. State Recreation and Conservation Office, Natural Resources Conservation Services, Snohomish Basin Salmon Recovery Forum, Sound Salmon Solutions and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.