Community

Dugualla Bay salmon habitat potential explored

The Whidbey Camano Land Trust will hold an open house in Oak Harbor  Thursday, April 7, to share information about its ideas for restoring juvenile salmon rearing habitat at two sites on the south side of Dugualla Bay, which is one of Island County’s highest priority salmon habitat areas.

In spring, the Skagit River carries young salmon, called smolt, across Skagit Bay to the sheltered waters of Dugualla Bay, a first stop on the smolts’ journey to the ocean. Before heading to open water, salmon smolt need nurseries; safe places near shore where they can rest, feed, grow and hide from predators.

But, as development has increased along Puget Sound shorelines, more and more of this critical habitat has been lost. According to the Land Trust, less than 20 percent of Puget Sound’s near-shore salmon rearing areas remain.

In 2009, the Whidbey Camano Land Trust acquired a conservation easement on a historic lagoon within the Dugualla Heights community and 39 acres of former marsh on the south shore of Dugualla Bay. In January 2010, with a grant from the Washington State Salmon Recovery Funding Board and in partnership with the Whidbey Island Conservation District, the Land Trust undertook a feasibility study to determine what might be possible. As part of the study, the Land Trust has been working with other organizations and neighbors, including the Marine Resources Committee, Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group, WSU Beachwatchers, Skagit River System Cooperative, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Island County, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Diking District 3 and the Dugualla Heights community.

The open house will feature displays and maps. Land Trust representatives will make a brief presentation about the project and the results of the feasibility study at multiple times (3:45; 4:15; 4:45; 5:15), followed by time for questions and discussion.

The open house will be held Thursday, April 7, at Skagit Valley College (1900 SE Pioneer Way, Oak Harbor) in  Oak Room 306 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.

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