Friends Partners With Youth at Sucia Island Restoration Site

We had productive and fun days at our Mud Bay restoration site on Sucia Island this month, learning with island youth and furthering ecological improvements to the site. Throughout 2020, restoration efforts at Mud Bay included the removal of nearly 300 feet of coastal road, the removal of rock armor and a culvert, as well as restoration of tidal hydrology, fish passage, and marsh and beach habitats. The work continued this month as eight members of the Islands Conservation Corps (ICC) assisted Friends staff with planting dune grass, removing treated wood and plastic debris, and making water quality improvements to the marsh channels. We camped out and had a fun adventure despite the chilly April snow showers! We were also able to explore Sucia Island’s diverse plants and geology. 

Students from Orcas Island’s Environmental Leadership class came out to the site as well. They got a lot out of seeing the restoration efforts first hand, hearing from Friends staff Tina and Jess about what goes into making a project like this happen, why it’s important to our ecosystem as a whole, and even getting some hands-on monitoring done by conducting forage fish surveys on the beach.

Thanks to all who came out to help make these important restoration and learning opportunities happen, including Washington State Parks, the Islands Conservation Corps as well as our boat captains with Salish Seacrets Adventures and Outer Island Expeditions! Funding provided by Orcas Island Community Foundation, the Washington State Salmon Recovery Board, and the Estuary and Salmon Restoration Program.

Friends staff and youth teams unloading from Outer Island Expeditions boat onto Sucia Island.
Katherine Dietzman, Friends’ Science and Education Coordinator, planting dune grass with Islands Conservation Corps members along the restored beach at Mud Bay Sucia.
Islands Conservation Corps crew members remove armor rock from the restored tide channel.
ICC crew members remove treated wood from the Mud Bay salt marsh.
Jess Newly, Friends’ Community Science and Education Manager, educating Orcas Island High School students about forage fish surveys on Sucia Island.
Students from Orcas Island’s Environmental Leadership class learning about the restoration site firsthand from Friends’ Science Director, Tina Whitman.
One of two interpretive signs installed at the restoration site by Friends and project partners.
WA State Parks prepares to transport Friends and ICC back to Orcas at the completion of the two-day restoration work party.

We chose to live on the westside of San Juan Island because of its natural beauty, and we want to preserve it for future generations. That’s where the Friends of the San Juans come in. Since their inception, they have been the guardians of the Salish Sea and this place we call home.

Glen and Deb Bruels

members, San Juan Island