Beach and Bluff Restoration (Brown Island)

250 waterfront feet of bluff and beach restored by removing an unnecessary rock bulkhead (2015).


It all started when I saw a newsletter from Friends of the San Juans talking about armoring of beaches and how it degrades the beach, which was a huge shock to me. I want the beach to be able to be here for my grandchildren, for my nieces, nephews and god children—and that’s why we made the decision to contact Friends and see what we could do about this portion of beach.

– Mariluz Villa, Brown Island

Friends of the San Juans restored a historic feeder bluff located on the southeast shore of Brown Island near Friday Harbor in partnership with three private landowners. The bluff and upper beach was armored with large rocks across multiple private properties. With limited wave energy it was an excellent site for full bulkhead removal. Restoration of the feeder bluff  restored coastal processes. Removal of the rock armor uncovered potential forage fish spawning habitat and also allowed for expansion of marine riparian vegetation. This enhanced insect and organic material delivery into the nearshore benefits outmigrating juvenile salmon.

The project site is very typical of developed shorelines in San Juan County: the parcel sizes are relatively small; there are multiple private landowners; and the beach had outdated, unnecessary rocks along the bank that limited the natural supply of sediment to maintain the beach.

Project acknowledgements: Rain Shadow Consulting, Naturescapes Landscaping, Drayton Archaeological Research, Coastal Geologic Services.

Funding was provided by FSJ members, private landowners, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Estuary Program’s Puget Sound Marine and Nearshore Grant Program.

Click here to watch A Place at the Table: Benefits of Beach Restoration which showcases this project.