The purpose of the Smith Island Restoration is to re-establish historic tidal marshlands that provide critical habitat for threatened Chinook salmon, as well as other salmon species, in the Snohomish River basin.
The project includes construction of the new dike to hold back flood and tidal waters to protect the adjacent properties including farmland, local businesses, and Interstate 5. Once complete, the aging old dike will then be breached to let tidal water return to the historic estuary. The river water levels will ebb and flow once the old dike is breached.
The reestablished estuary will provide food and shelter to thousands of juvenile salmon on their way downstream and out to the ocean. These numbers contribute significantly toward achieving salmon recovery benchmarks identified in the Puget Sound Salmon Recovery Plan, the Puget Sound Action Agenda, and the Snohomish River Basin Salmon Conservation Plan. The Smith Island Restoration project, along with the Port of Everett’s Blue Heron Slough project and the Tulalip Tribe’s Qwuloolt Estuary project will restoration approximately 1,100 acres of tidal marsh estuary.
The Smith Island site consists of approximately 400 acres of publicly owned land located on the northeast portion of Smith Island, within the Snohomish River estuary near Everett. The site is bounded by Union Slough to the east and north, Interstate 5 to the west, and Everett’s wastewater treatment plant to the south.
Construction on the Smith Island Estuary Restoration Project began in the summer of 2015. The construction company, Scarsella Bros. Inc., was awarded the bid for the first phase. Currently, dike construction is underway as part of phase 1. In addition, drainage facilities and a construction access road are under construction. Construction will be suspended during the winter months and resume in the spring of 2017. Phase 2 of the project is currently at the 90% design level. It includes the construction of aquatic habitat elements and breaching the existing dike.
Chinook salmon are considered a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. In accordance with federal law; agencies such as Snohomish County, are obligated to increase Chinook salmon numbers in the Puget Sound. This project’s goal is to increase the number of juvenile salmon who return to the ocean, helping make great strides in required salmon recovery plans.
Increasing salmon numbers has a positive impact to the economy. This restoration project will help protect commercial fishing jobs, tribal fishing rights, and increase opportunities for sports fishing enthusiasts.
Protecting farmland throughout Snohomish County is also vital to the local economy. Local agricultural production offers better prices, more variety and greater food security as well as new opportunities in exporting homegrown products.
The Smith Island Restoration Project will cost an estimated $28,890,079
Over $20,546,031 was funded through grants
The City of Everett also contributed $475,000 toward the project
For more on funding see our funding chart (link to funding information)