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Restoring the River

Restoring the River: Groups chart complicated path forward for Stillaguamish salmon

It’s a long, complicated path forward for salmon in the Stillaguamish River

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Salmon habitat

The Stillaguamish empties into Port Susan Bay near diked farmland that will soon be restored into more estuary space.

Twice a day, murky, brackish water creeps into miles of muddy estuary channels, bringing nutrients — and hope — with the tides.

Converting diked farmland at the mouth of the Stillaguamish River back into this type of natural landscape is a pivotal element in restoring endangered salmon runs to their former glory, according to local and state scientists.


Salmon habitat tour, 3.26.21

Jason Griffith, the fisheries biologist for Stillaguamish tribe, holds salmon at the Harvey Creek Hatchery in Arlington on Friday, March 26, 2021.

Salmon habitat tour, 3.26.21

Heather Cole with The Nature Conservancy cups a young salmon at the Harvey Creek Hatchery in Arlington on Friday, March 26, 2021.

Salmon habitat tour, 3.26.21

Young salmon swim in a tank at the Harvey Creek Hatchery in Arlington on Friday, March 26, 2021.

Salmon habitat tour, 3.26.21

The zis a ba habitat restoration site in Stanwood, seen here on Friday, March 26, 2021, is already home to young salmon.

Stillaguamish River

Highway 532 runs through Stanwood, at left, and along a branch of the Stillaguamish River. Treating stormwater from Stanwood streets before it flows into the river is one of the many steps needed in restoring salmon runs. Also part of the puzzle: adding estuary lands like the recently completed Leque Island restoration site, bottom right, and the zis a ba site, center.

Salmon habitat tour, 3.26.21

Jason Griffith, the fisheries biologist for Stillaguamish tribe, talks about the dangers facing salmon at the zis a ba estuary site on Friday, March 26, 2021.

Salmon habitat tour, 3.26.21

The zis a ba habitat restoration site in Stanwood, seen here on Friday, March 26, 2021, is already home to young salmon.

Salmon habitat tour, 4.1.21

Congressman Rick Larsen on Thursday, April 1, 2021, tours the Leque Island site, which was recently converted from farmland to an estuary

Salmon habitat tour, 4.1.21

Congressman Rick Larsen on Thursday, April 1, 2021, tours the Leque Island site, which was recently converted from farmland to an estuary

Contact reporter Evan Caldwell at ecaldwell@scnews.com and follow him on Twitter @Evan_SCN for updates throughout the week and on Instagram @evancaldwell.scn for more photos.

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