Seattle District received $13.6 million in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Fiscal 2019 Work Plan to complete the Skokomish River Basin Ecosystem Restoration Project design and construction phases.

This project plan provides restoration on a total of 277 acres including habitat critical for Endangered Species Act (ESA)-listed chinook and chum salmon, key food sources for southern resident orca whales.

In addition to chinook and chum salmon, the project will improve habitat for ESA-listed steelhead and bull trout, and over 100 additional wildlife species known to use the Skokomish River for some part of their life cycles.

“The plan includes removing a levee, placing large woody debris, restoring wetlands at two sites and reconnecting a side channel,” said Corps project manager David Cook. “When complete, it will also benefit an estimated 40 miles of habitat in the river that is periodically inaccessible to ESA-listed species due to lack of water.”

The Skokomish Indian Tribe and Mason County are cost-sharing, non-federal sponsors working with the Corps on the restoration effort.

“This is a testament to the commitment of not only the Corps, Mason County, and the Skokomish Indian Tribe but state and federal resource managers, NGOs, and citizens to the recovery of habitat and ecological functions essential to the recovery and robustness of aquatic resource populations. The water and salmon are central to the life, culture, and well-being of the Skokomish community and we are pleased and encouraged to be taking this next great step in the restoration, recovery, protection, and management of the salmon resources we depend upon,” said Skokomish Tribe Natural Resources Director Joseph Pavel. “We have accomplished a great deal in the watershed but there’s more to be done. Getting the design and construction complete with the county and Corps of Engineers for this project is essential.”

The Skokomish River Basin is located on Hood Canal, a natural fjord-like arm of Puget Sound and water of national significance. Running through Mason County, the Skokomish River is the largest source of Hood Canal’s freshwater as it flows into Annas Bay and critical in the canal’s overall health.

“Once again, Mason County is proving the power of partnerships in securing much-need funding for habitat restoration and safety improvements in the Skokomish Valley,” said Shutty. “I look forward to continuing to work with our tribal, state and federal partners to ensure the completion of these projects which will enhance the safety of Valley residents and restore Hood Canal salmon and steelhead runs that historically were the largest in the region and remain critical to our local culture and economy.”

Officials expect final design completion in spring 2020, followed by contractor acquisition and construction.