Shoal Bay Tide Channel & Lagoon Restoration (Lopez)

Five-acre coastal lagoon habitat, water quality and fish passage improved by removing concrete tide gate and fill from the tide channel (2009).


We wish to thank everyone involved for the highly successful restoration project on our Shoal Bay shellfish farm. Friends of the San Juans has been cooperative, respectful and extremely inclusive through the entire process. The actual removal was carefully timed and staged to minimize impact both to the marine life and our ongoing shellfish farming activities. We are delighted with the result aesthetically, and can already discern significant, positive changes to the function of the lagoon.

-Nick and Sara Jones

In October 2009, a large cement tide gate was removed from the tide channel of Lopez Island’s Shoal Bay lagoon. The derelict tide gate was restricting the flow of water in and out of the lagoon, obstructing fish passage at low tide and causing elevated summertime temperatures within the lagoon. Shoal Bay has a rich nearshore marine environment with forage fish spawning beaches, eelgrass, shellfish beds, a sand spit, and a coastal lagoon. Pacific herring, surf smelt, and multiple species of out-migrating juvenile salmon utilize the project area. The restoration project, coordinated by Friends and designed by Coastal Geologic Services, improved water quality and fish passage conditions at the privately owned lagoon.

Two dump truck loads of concrete, steel, plastic and wood, and nearly 20 truckloads of fill material were removed from the site. The channel was deepened and widened slightly and the slope of the banks were reduced. Lower marsh vegetation was saved and replanted after the bank and channel reshaping was complete. Additional dune and salt grasses were replanted by volunteers. Within a few months schools of out-migrating juvenile salmon were observed in the lagoon for the first time.

Project acknowledgements: Lopez Sand and Gravel, Drayton Archaeological Research, Coastal Geologic Services, Wyllie-Echeverria Fisheries, and Beach Watcher volunteers.

Project funding provided by: Friends members, the Washington State Salmon Recovery Funding Board, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation‘s Community Salmon Fund, and the Washington Department of Ecology’s Coastal Protection Fund.