Where the Skagit River forks to create Fir Island, Skagit Fisheries implemented a restoration project to reconnect the outlet of Britt Slough and a large wetland complex to the South Fork of the Skagit River. This important Chinook recovery project took place on WDFW land located between the dike and the South Fork of the Skagit River with engineering assistance provided by the Skagit Conservation District.
Reconnecting this restored off-channel habitat and wetland complex to the Skagit River provides much needed habitat for juvenile Chinook salmon in the lower Skagit floodplain. Young Chinook salmon seek out areas of slow-moving water as they migrate to the estuary as places to rest and grow larger before reaching the salt water. Access to this type of off-channel and wetland habitat is extremely limited in the lower Skagit River floodplain where most of the river is diked. This project offered a unique opportunity to restore floodplain habitat between the dike and the river on publicly owned land.
Skagit Fisheries staff, a Washington Conservation Corps crew, and student volunteers planted 6,950 trees along the restored channel and throughout the floodplain of the project site. Volunteers and staff also participated in monitoring activities to document salmon use prior to project construction.
The Britt Slough Project is included in the Intensively Monitored Watersheds (IMW) program which is evaluating the effects of habitat restoration projects in the Skagit estuary on Chinook salmon growth and survival. Skagit Fisheries volunteers and staff participated in data collection to document salmon use prior to project construction. Skagit Fisheries looks forward to assisting tribal scientists with continuing to collect data at Britt Slough to detect changes in salmon production as a result of this project and as part of the larger study effort to quantify impacts of estuary restoration projects on Chinook salmon populations.