Restoration Feasibility Study

Author: Land Trust Team | 02/22/23

Exploring the Potential Restoration of the Livingston Bay Tidal Estuary

Aerial view of much of the project area. Photo by Dawn Pucci.

The Whidbey Camano Land Trust, in partnership with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, conducted a restoration feasibility study for a large area along the north end of Livingston Bay. Reconnecting this historic estuary would help in restoring large areas of habitat for young salmon to shelter, feed and grow as they move from the Stillaguamish and Skagit Rivers towards the Pacific Ocean. This is especially true for Chinook salmon who are listed as threatened under the Federal Endangered Species Act.

As part of this project, the Land Trust hired a consultant team of experts led by Environmental Science Associates to evaluate restoration scenarios based on current and future opportunities for land acquisition at Livingston Bay. In exploring land protection opportunities, the Land Trust is committed to working only with willing landowners who want to see their properties protected and restored. The potential restoration scenarios for this project all involved re-introducing tidal flow to different portions of the project area, creating deep channels for fish and as well as tidal wetlands and mudflats. To support development of the different scenarios, information was collected on the site and models were used to forecast each scenarios restoration impacts.

Overall the feasibility study found that large tidal restoration is possible at the site and would provide substantial benefits to salmon. It concluded that full restoration, if all landowners were willing to sell or restore their property, would provide the greatest benefits and be the most cost-effective. Smaller restoration scenarios were found to be nearly as expensive because they would need to include structures (notably earthen berms) to protect adjacent un-restored lands. The Land Trust plans to continue to work on land acquisition with those landowners who are willing and continue discussions with others in the community about the benefits of this restoration.


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