Lone Tree Creek flows through the Thousand Trails Campground and into a lagoon partially enclosed by a spit.
Lone Tree Creek flows through the Thousand Trails Campground and into a lagoon partially enclosed by a spit.

Lone Tree Creek is a small, independent tributary to Kiket Bay, which is part of the larger Skagit Bay, located on the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community reservation. Where the creek meets Kiket Bay, two spits enclose the mouth of the creek creating a tidal lagoon that is approximately 5.3 acres at high tide. A small estuarine marsh is associated with the creek upstream from the lagoon.

While most of the upper watershed is forested, the lower portion has been developed with roads, rural residences, and the Thousand Trails campground, resulting in a heavily modified portion of the creek. Numerous culvert crossings impacted hydrology and sediment transport, and truncated the natural extent of tidal influence. Despite the creek’s small size and substantial development, the lower portion of Lone Tree Creek and its associated wetlands are used extensively by a variety of anadromous fish species, including Chinook, coho, and steelhead fry.

The primary objective for the Lone Tree Creek and Lagoon Pocket Estuary project was to increase the size and ecological capacity of the Lone Tree pocket estuary by restoring: (1) tidal hydrology to the historic drowned channel part of the lagoon and (2) freshwater hydrology and sediment dynamics (transport and deposition) in Lone Tree Creek.

In order to accomplish these objectives, SRSC worked with the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community to complete several restoration actions within the Thousand Trails campground. A central component of the project was to remove an undersized, perched culvert and replace it with a bridge, thus increasing the tidally influenced area of the lagoon. Additional project elements included relocating approximately 275 feet of stream length out of a road ditch, removing or replacing six culverts, improving riparian conditions, removing rip-rap bank protection, removing approximately 1600 square feet of artificial fills from a tidal marsh, and installing large woody debris in the stream channel.

Project Status/Timeline
The restoration work was completed in 2006. Site monitoring and stewardship are ongoing.

Primary Project Contact
Devin Smith – Senior Restoration Ecologist

Funding Sources
Natural Resources Conservation Service – Environmental Quality Incentives Program

Project Partners
Swinomish Indian Tribal Community

References:
Beamer, EM, A McBride, R Henderson. 2004. Lone Tree pocket estuary restoration: 2004 fish sampling and pre-restoration project monitoring report.
Beamer, EM, A McBride, R Henderson, K Wolf. 2003. The importance of non-natal pocket estuaries in Skagit Bay to wild Chinook salmon: An emerging priority for restoration.
Beamer, EM, R Henderson, K Wolf. 2009. Lone Tree Creek and pocket estuary restoration: progress report for 2004-2008 Fish Monitoring.