A short film produced by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife with funding support from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Community Based Restoration Program.
Leque Island, located between the City of Stanwood, Camano Island, Port Susan and Skagit Bay, was once entirely tidal marsh. In the late 1800s, early settlers built dikes around the perimeter of the island to convert the area to farmland.
Beginning in 2013, and through consultation with community leaders, Tribes, scientists, hunters, anglers, and many others, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) undertook restoration of Leque Island in partnership with Ducks Unlimited with the goal of restoring habitat for salmon and other native species.
During the summer of 2019 the restoration project was completed, returning the diked island back to the tides.
Removing the dikes restored 250 acres of tidal marsh habitat in the Stillaguamish River watershed where 85% of historic tidal marsh has been displaced. Estuaries like this are incredibly important for juvenile Chinook salmon as they transition from fresh to salt water. They are also important to shorebirds, waterfowl, and a host of other species in the area. Because Puget Sound's Southern Resident killer whales rely upon Chinook for food, estuary restoration projects including Leque Island are also closely aligned with orca recovery efforts.
WDFW biologists and partners are now monitoring the restoration site to evaluate outcomes. We have seen at least 15 different species of fish (including juvenile Chinook salmon) in the newly created channels as well as many bird and plant species. The restored Leque Island also includes amenities for visitors including parking areas, a gravel walking path, and a hand-launch site for small boats and kayaks.
Learn more about Leque Island and how to visit at: https://wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/habitat-recovery/nearshore/conservation/projects/leque-restoration