Turners Bay lagoon, located at the northeast end of Similk Bay, in the Whidbey Basin of Puget Sound, is one of 12 pocket estuaries identified as high priority restoration sites in the Skagit Chinook Recovery Plan (SRSC and WDFW 2005), which has been incorporated into the Puget Sound Shared Strategy. Prioritization for these sites was based upon proximity to the Skagit River delta, size of restorable habitat, and likelihood of successful restoration. Data collected in the Whidbey Basin indicate that juvenile salmon displaced from Skagit River delta habitat as a result of high population densities or flood events could reach these sites in as little as five or six hours.
Turner’s Bay pocket estuary site is a nearly 60-acre salt marsh/lagoon complex located at the head of Similk Bay, on the north end of the Skagit Bay in Puget Sound. This project enhanced fish access and restored tidal inundation to a 7.3 acre portion of a 59.4 acre tidal channel lagoon and marsh complex.
Formerly, upper portions of the salt marsh received muted tidal volumes and fish access was severely limited due to a road crossing and a non-functioning tide gate. An extensive feasibility study was completed in 2007 that identified removal of Similk Bay Road as the restoration action with the greatest habitat benefit (McBride 2007). The study also documented portions of the site that had been ditched and/or filled, and identified creosote-treated debris on the site from a previous log storage operation.
The restoration work was completed in phased construction. In 2010, a gas pipeline was reinstalled at a lower elevation to allow road removal. Reservation Road, which borders the project site, was elevated in 2011. In 2012, restoration work was completed with the removal of Similk Bay Road and restoration of tidal prism and fish access to the upper salt marsh. Native plants were installed at the site following construction.
Project construction activities were accomplished in two phases, in 2010 and 2012. Site maintenance and monitoring are ongoing.
Primary Project Contact
Eric Mickelson – Restoration Ecologist
SRFB – Salmon Recovery Funding Board
ESRP – Estuary and Salmon Restoration Program
Beamer, EM, R Henderson, K Wolf. 2007. Juvenile salmon and nearshore fish use in shoreline and lagoon habitat associated with Turners Bay, 2003-2006.