Oblique view of upper Barnaby Pond and the Skagit River valley upstream of the project site. Photo provided by Aerial Inspection Resources.
Oblique view of upper Barnaby Pond and the Skagit River valley upstream of the project site. Photo provided by Aerial Inspection Resources.


The Barnaby Reach of the Skagit River extends from the mouth of Illabot Creek downstream to the Sauk River. Historically, the river has migrated over a very broad area in this reach which has created an extensive network of sloughs, wetlands, ponds, side channels, and other off-channel habitats. These types of floodplain habitats provide important spawning and rearing for a variety of salmon species and for this reason were identified as a high priority for protection and restoration in the Skagit Chinook Recovery Plan (SRSC and WDFW 2005).

Much of the land in the Barnaby Reach is in conservation or public ownership (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), Seattle City Light, and The Nature Conservancy), which creates a unique opportunity for management and restoration of habitat conditions across a large floodplain reach. Within the Barnaby Reach lies the “Barnaby complex”. It includes Barnaby Slough and Harrison Pond, which were natural features modified and developed by the Washington Department of Game to provide off-site rearing for hatchery steelhead starting in the 1960’s. This facility includes numerous culverts, dikes, fishways, and flow control structures that have greatly altered flow and habitat conditions in the reach. WDFW (who currently manages the site) has not used the facility for rearing since 2007 and currently has no plans to rear fish at the site in the future. As a result, the facility has fallen into disrepair and in some areas is creating barriers to fish passage. This has also created an opportunity to modify the facility to restore habitat conditions in the reach.

Land ownership in the project vicinity.
Land ownership in the project vicinity.

The Barnaby Reach Feasibility Study was funded through SRFB in 2009. The purpose of the feasibility study was to evaluate habitat conditions throughout the Barnaby Reach including the Barnaby complex and identify restoration actions that could improve habitat. This study had several objectives:

  • Evaluate the impact developments in the reach have on flow, fish use, and habitat conditions both currently and over time
  • Develop and evaluate restoration options for the reach that could improve habitat conditions, restore natural processes, and reduce maintenance costs
  • Identify hydraulic and geomorphic changes to the river and floodplain that may occur in the Barnaby Reach as a result of restoration actions
  • Select and develop conceptual designs for preferred restoration actions

A consultant was hired to complete the analysis of alternatives and a final feasibility report was completed November 2014. More project information, including the alternatives assessment report, map sets, appendices, and powerpoint presentations are available at: https://barnabystudy.wordpress.com/.


Project Status/Timeline
SRSC received SRFB funding in 2014 to complete preliminary design work at the 30% level for the preferred alternative identified after completion of the feasibility study. The preliminary design work will build on the work initiated by the feasibility study, and complete needed studies such as wetland delineation, geotechnical analysis, additional infrastructure and more specific survey, along with more intensive archaeological investigations. The preliminary design work will continue to support ongoing efforts to work closely with affected agencies, landowners, and other stakeholders to identify and incorporate key elements into design, such addressing flood or erosion hazards and developing recreation opportunities on the project site. Preliminary design deliverables will include a basis of design report, cut profiles and quantities, construction approach, a preliminary cost estimate and drawing package for the development of permits. The design work is expected to be completed Fall 2017. Funding for final design and construction funds will be sought thereafter.


Primary Project Contact
Devin Smith – Director of Habitat Restoration


Funding Sources
SRFB – Salmon Recovery Funding Board
Floodplains by Design
Seattle City Light


Project Partners
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
The Nature Conservancy
Seattle City Light