Puget Sound Nearshore Ecosystem Restoration Project Overview

The Puget Sound region is generally characterized by areas of steep upland terrain (i.e., mountains, bluffs) that transitions quickly to the deep waters of Puget Sound. A narrow band of shoreline serves as a transition zone providing ecologically important connections between the terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystem types. These beaches, embayments and delta shorelines are heavily impacted by human changes. Therefore, the nearshore zone is a strategic focus for Puget Sound recovery.

Puget Sound is home to large concentrations of waterfowl, shorebirds and raptors; abundant shellfish; dozens of marine mammal species; and some of the largest salmon runs in the lower 48 states. More than 2,500 miles of beaches, estuaries and river deltas make up Puget Sound’s nearshore zone. Nearshore habitats provide commercial, recreational and aesthetic benefits that enhance quality of life. For more than 150 years there has been profound physical modifications to the Puget Sound nearshore zone. Government and non-government agencies, organizations, tribes and businesses are actively seeking opportunities to reverse past damage. The Puget Sound Nearshore Ecosystem Restoration Project (PSNERP) offers a unique opportunity to tackle large-scale habitat restoration based upon a comprehensive science-based assessment of this nationally-significant estuary.

Recommended Plan

Of the 36 sites identified for implementation across Puget Sound, three are being recommended for construction authorization under this existing Corps feasibility study and are presented as the recommended plan. Projects included in the recommended plan are:

  • Duckabush River Estuary

  • Nooksack River Delta

  • North Fork Skagit River Delta

The recommended plan will restore over 2,100 acres of degraded habitat and produce 716 average annual habitat units.  Based on a March 2016 price level, the total estimated project first cost of the recommended plan is $452 million.  The Federal share of the cost is $294 million and the non-Federal sponsors’ share is $158 million.

Benefits from the recommended plan would derive from removing nearly 28,860 linear feet of shoreline stressors (including tidal barriers, nearshore fill, and shoreline armoring). Restoration at the Duckabush River Estuary would address habitat constraints in Hood Canal, which is a partially isolated geographic section of Puget Sound. Restoration at the Nooksack River Delta would provide 25 percent of Puget Sound Action Agenda’s 2020 estuarine habitat recovery goal in a single project.  Inclusion of North Fork Skagit River Delta would restore floodplain and tidal connectivity in the estuary of the Skagit River, the largest and most productive river in Puget Sound.