The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Skokomish Indian Tribe, Mason County and the Washington Department of Natural Resources met a major milestone Tuesday with the signing of the Skokomish River Ecosystem Restoration Project Partnership Agreement.
The Project Partnership Agreement is the next step toward constructing the project, signifying the transition from design phase into the construction phase. It is a legally binding agreement between the Corps and its non-federal sponsors that serves to define responsibilities, cost-sharing and execution of work.
The project aims to restore a total of 277 acres in the Skokomish River Basin 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 project includes channel realignment near the confluence of the North and South Fork Skokomish River to allow for year-round fish passage, installation of large woody debris and engineered log jams, the reconnection of a historic side channel and wetland restoration at two sites. When complete, it’s expected to 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 approximately $22.1 million restoration effort.
The Skokomish River is the largest and most diverse tributary to Hood Canal, a 70-mile long natural fjord-like arm of Puget Sound that supports vital natural resources. The project is a critical element of an integrated restoration effort in the entire Skokomish River Basin and complements restoration efforts being completed by others throughout the watershed.
Construction is scheduled to commence in summer 2020 and is expected to last about two years.