Communications Specialist III
Nationally Recognized Project Increases Accessibility and Provides Habitat Improvement for Endangered Chinook Salmon
Edmonds, Wash., October 6, 2023 – Snohomish County and partners today celebrated the completion of the long-envisioned park improvements and estuary restoration at Meadowdale Beach Park. The Meadowdale Beach Park & Estuary Restoration Project is regionally significant for its role in salmon recovery and Puget Sound shoreline restoration, while making critical improvements to the park. This is the first Puget Sound shoreline project that enlarged a stream crossing under railroad tracks that was designed to reach full restoration potential.
“Meadowdale Beach Park is a beloved community asset, and I’m glad we can celebrate these improvements that have been years in the making,” said Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers. “The park improvements and estuary restoration work we have done at Meadowdale are truly groundbreaking and will allow both endangered Chinook salmon and our broader county community to thrive. I’m grateful to our partners who have made this award-winning project possible.”
“After years of work, Meadowdale Beach Park has been transformed into a beautiful natural destination. Replacing a six-foot-wide concrete culvert with a 100-foot-wide opening makes it safer and easier for people to get to the beach, and restores a pre-railroad estuary that provides essential habitat to endangered salmon. This project, the first of its kind along Puget Sound's shores, is a blueprint for how federal, local, and private partners can work together to restore shore habitat along rail lines while keeping trains running and our economy going,” said Senator Cantwell.
“Congratulations to Snohomish County on the completion of the Meadowdale Beach Park & Estuary Restoration Project!” said Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02), who serves as a co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Estuary Caucus. “Thanks in part to federal grant funding, the County and its partners have transformed the park into a historical pocket estuary where salmon and other wildlife can thrive and local residents can enjoy recreational opportunities and the beautiful environment. I look forward to visiting soon!”
“Salmon have sustained us for generations and serve as a symbol of our history and culture. Through this project, we honor our ancestors and work towards ensuring the survival and recovery of this iconic species,” said Misty Napeahi, Vice Chairwoman, Tulalip Tribes.
“This project shows that all levels of government (county, state, and federal) can work together alongside our tribal partners to restore salmon habitat, strengthen our Orca population, and work to honor the Treaty of Point Elliot,” said Snohomish County Councilmember Strom Peterson. “I hope today’s success can serve as a model for other projects around Puget Sound.”
“This project has been a long time coming and is representative of strong partnership within our department, including the Parks and Surface Water Management (SWM) divisions with BNSF Railway, Tulalip Tribes, state and federal agencies, and the local community,” said Tom Teigen, Director of Snohomish County Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. “We want to thank our funding partners for supporting this innovative project that will benefit the public and our environment for many years to come.”
The project broke ground on June 15, 2021, beach access was reopened to the public on January 7, 2023, and construction wrapped up this week. The project removed the 128-foot railroad embankment and a six-foot culvert and replaced it with a five-span railroad bridge. The new 100-foot opening improves human access to the beach including ADA accessibility, addresses fish passage, flooding, and sediment delivery, and restored 1.3 acres of estuary habitat. To understand the efficacy of this project, restoration monitoring of the site will continue over the next ten years. The restored estuary provides rearing habitat for endangered Chinook salmon, which are key elements in the Puget Sound food web and a critical food source for the endangered Southern Resident Orcas.
As a groundbreaking and innovating project, the Meadowdale Beach Park & Estuary Restoration Project was awarded the “Innovation in Conservation Award” by the National Recreation & Park Association (NRPA) and the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC)’s “Vision 2050 Award.”
A public celebration will take place on Saturday, October 7 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the beach park under the new picnic shelter. The public is invited to attend and learn more about how the project was designed and constructed, as well as about the environmental improvements and habitat monitoring that will occur into the future. They can tour the site and learn from project engineers, a site historian, biologists, and other staff. Due to limited parking, shuttles will transport people to and from the Meadowdale Beach Park ADA parking lot from Meadowdale Middle School (6500 168th St SW, Lynnwood 98037) from 9:30 a.m. until the last shuttle departs the park at 2:30 p.m.
The cost of construction of the Meadowdale Beach Park and Estuary Restoration Project was approximately $15 million, which was below the initial estimates. The project was funded in part by the Federal Rail Administration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries, Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account, Estuary and Salmon Restoration Program, Puget Sound Acquisition & Restoration, State Salmon Recovery Grants, Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, and Snohomish County.
The Snohomish County Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) includes the Division of Surface Water Management; the Division of Parks and Recreation; the Office of Energy and Sustainability and the Office of Agriculture. DCNR works in support of thriving communities; a clean and healthy environment to foster environmental stewardship; ensuring food security; supporting a green economy and strengthening communities by providing regional parks and infrastructure; protecting the region's water, air, land and natural habitats; enhancing agriculture and recreation; and reducing flooding. https://snohomishcountywa.gov/5758.