Thatcher Bay Nearshore Restoration (Blakely)

200 waterfront feet of subtidal and intertidal habitat restored at a known forage fish spawning beach by removing an outdated log handling facility and rebuilding an existing barge landing into a smaller footprint (2013).


The project site is the sole access point for stewardship-focused forest practices on roughly 2,000 acres of forestlands. The project maximized habitat restoration while supporting the minimal access necessary to ensure forest activities can continue and help maintain the island’s healthy watershed.

– Tina Whitman, Friends’ Science Director

The goal of this project was to restore documented surf smelt spawning habitat and improve nearshore habitat for salmon and salmon prey by removing a historic log handling and beach access facility, associated armoring, fill and beach debris and restoring intertidal, backshore and marine riparian conditions.

In the northern portion of Thatcher Bay, Blakely Island, a historic log handling and beach access structure was negatively impacting surf smelt spawning habitat, backshore, beach, intertidal habitats and coastal processes important to salmon and salmon prey. This location is identified as a high priority for salmon recovery efforts in San Juan County; there is documented forage fish spawning (WDFW 2004, FSJ 2004), high juvenile Chinook presence probability, and high juvenile sand lance presence probability (Beamer et al. in prep).

Restoration activities included removing the current structure, as well as associated beach debris, re-grading the upper beach and backshore, and replanting vegetation. The project improved backshore, intertidal and subtidal conditions for forage fish spawn, juvenile Chinook, eelgrass and juvenile forage fish at a priority salmon recovery site

955 cubic yards of concrete, rock and fill was also removed from the intertidal area at Thatcher Bay and the existing barge landing access was rebuilt in a smaller footprint, uncovering 5,000 square feet of intertidal habitat at a documented surf smelt spawning site.

Additional restoration actions at the site included removal of over 20 creosote pilings from the bay (landowner, Friends members, and the Department of Natural Resources) as well as a wood waste removal project at the adjacent pocket beach with the landowner and the Skagit River Watershed Council.

Project acknowledgements: Blakely Island Timberlands, Drayton Archaeological Research, Coastal Geologic Services, and Blue Dog Construction.

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