The final session of the 2009 Tribal Habitat Conference consisted of a field trip to two of the Tulalip Tribes’ restoration projects.
The Coho Creek restoration began in 2000, with the replacement of a perched culvert. No salmon had been using the creek, but after the culvert was replaced, chum salmon were seen spawning in the ditches.
There was no suitable spawning habitat, no gravel, so the salmon spawned in the sand.
“We haven’t been supplementing it,” said Kurt Nelson, senior stream ecologist for Tulalip. “The salmon we’re seeing are strays that are recolonizing the area.”
Between 2000 and 2006, 18 culverts were removed or replaced, 1,000 feet of spawning gravel added, 1/2 acre forested pond constructed, ditch flow rerouted and five log weirs constructed. Since then, 2,000 feet of new stream channel was created, including 90 pieces of wood and about 900 cubic yards of spawning material.
Eventually the Coho Creek restoration project will restore and enhance 6,000 feet of stream channel, 8 acres of riparian forest and improve connectivity to adjacent forest communities. The project also will restore natural hydrologic connection and functions to sub-basins forest, wetland and streams.
The Qwuloolt Estuary project is in the planning and permitting phase. The restoration work will involve removing levee along Ebey Slough, installing a setback levee to protect adjacent properties located in the floodplain, filling ditches, excavating stream and tidal channels, and conducting native riparian planting.
The project will restore historic tidal processes and a functioning estuary intertidal marsh system to 350 acres of isolated floodplain within the lower Snohomish River estuary and improve fish access to 16 miles of upstream habitat.