Forage Fish Spawn Habitat Restoration (Lopez)

100 waterfront feet of forage fish beach spawning habitat restored by removing creosote and concrete (2008).

before
after

To our surprise, excitement, and amazement, all of the effort involved with our restoration project came to fruition as we watched surf smelt spawn on our beach. We also observed two salmon foraging on the surf smelt, which is all part of this marine environment life cycle! We have such a feeling of fulfillment. ––Gary and Patty Bergren, Lopez Island

Many unnecessary, degraded or outdated modifications exist along local shorelines including legacy structures and creosote pilings. Debris removal can reduce known sources of toxic materials into water and sediments and recover shallow water and beach habitat for fish, shellfish and people.

The beaches of Shoal Bay on Lopez Island are valuable documented surf smelt spawning habitat. The project site is located along a no-bank, accretionary beach located on the spit. Along a known surf smelt spawning beach, 65 linear feet of the upper beach was directly covered with an old concrete shuffleboard court. There was also a degraded creosote soldier pile bulkhead along the waterward face of the concrete structure.

This project restored over 600 square feet of beach habitat and also allowed restoration of natural geologic and vegetative processes to reform the upper beach profile, berm and substrate.

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