Smuggler’s Cove Road Forage Fish Spawning Habitat Enhancement (Shaw)

300 linear feet of shoreline, at a known surf smelt spawning beach, was improved by reducing the footprint of the road protection, removing unnatural large rock from the intertidal beach, and nourishing with sand and fine gravel (2009).


While the smugglers cove road project can’t really be called a true restoration project (the road remains), it did minimize impacts of the armored road, enhance spawning habitat conditions in a known priority area for forage fish and improve awareness of owners all around Blind Bay of the importance of healthy beach habitats to marine food webs.

– Tina Whitman, Friends’ Science Director

Shoreline armoring associated with roads has been identified as the largest impact to forage fish spawning habitat in San Juan County. The project site was selected based on results of habitat assessments, feasibility analysis, and the likelihood of successful implementation over the short term.

Smuggler’s Cove Road is located on Blind Bay, Shaw Island, within a priority nearshore habitat region. Rock removal from the beach and habitat enhancement through beach nourishment addressed the negative impacts of shoreline armoring associated with a county road at a publicly owned, documented forage fish spawning beach. Project partners, Friends of the San Juans and San Juan County Public Works, completed project designs, permitting, landowner outreach, engineering, and implementation.

Project results included the enhancement of forage fish spawning habitat, increased capacity of San Juan County to address shoreline habitat issues associated with county roads, and improved landowner and public support for restoration projects associated with county infrastructure.

Acknowledgements: Lopez Sand and Gravel, San Juan County Public Works, Drayton Archeological Research, and Coastal Geologic Services.

Funders: Friends members, Washington Department of Ecology’s Coastal Protection Fund, and The Washington Salmon Recovery Funding Board.

From the first time we visited the islands, we were awe-struck by the natural beauty of this majestic setting: towering conifers, green meadows, beautiful lakes, forested mountains, all surrounded by the sound! Like any beautiful location, this magical environment could be “loved to death”, which is why it is so important that Friends of the San Juans is there to help us protect what we all love.

David and Geri Turnoy

members, Orcas Island