Barlow Bay Eelgrass & Forage Fish Spawn Habitat Restoration (Lopez)

Eelgrass and forage fish habitat restored by removing a derelict dock, including 1,200 square feet of overwater structure, 26 creosote pilings, pier decking, and 26 cubic yards of rock and fill (2013).

before
after

We are very pleased that the Friends of San Juans worked in collaboration with the Tulalip Nation and the Department of Natural Resources to remove debris and creosote piles from Barlow Bay. These efforts on behalf of natural resources and future generations have improved the environment we cherish.

–Hank and Joyce Landau, Lopez Island Residents

Located in the southwest corner of Lopez Island, Mackaye Harbor (which includes Barlow Bay) is one of 4 priority nearshore habitat regions in San Juan County due to multiple forage fish spawning sites (surf smelt and Pacific sand lance), year round spawning activity, and eelgrass.

Mackaye Harbor and Barlow Bay are also home to documented Pacific sand lance beaches in San Juan County providing critical habitat for an important salmonid prey species. In 2008, Friends initiated extensive community outreach and scientific research in Mackaye Harbor in order to advance nearshore restoration in this critical region.

This project improved the overall health and productivity of this important nearshore area by removing extensive toxic creosote pilings, and armoring from forage fish spawning habitat. It enhanced water quality and restored documented forage fish spawning habitat for critical marine species including salmon, forage fish, and shellfish.

Project acknowledgements: The Tulalip Tribes, Washington Department of Natural Resources, Coastal Geologic Services, Northwest Concepts.

Funding was provided by: Friends members, the Washington State Salmon Recovery Funding Board, and the Tulalip Tribes.

It wasn’t until 1979 that San Juan County got a comprehensive growth plan and that was largely due to the Friends of the San Juan’s being there to advocate for the shoreline and the ecosystem. Since then, there have been constant waves of pressure by developers. Friends have risen each time, fighting to protect this fragile and precious place.

Liza Michaelson

member, San Juan Island