Rivers and Tides: Restoring the Nisqually Estuary

Jennifer Strickland
Created: 6/05/2011 -

Abstract

River delta restoration projects are considered crucial to provide increased resiliency to large estuary systems – a key tool for adaptation in the face of climate change and related impacts of sea level rise. The Nisqually estuary in Washington State is a shining example. After a century of diking off tidal flow, the Brown Farm Dike was removed in October 2009, allowing tidal waters to once again inundate 762 acres of the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge near Olympia, Washington. Along with 140 acres of tidal wetlands restored by the Nisqually Indian Tribe, the Nisqually Delta represents the largest tidal marsh restoration project in the Pacific Northwest to assist in recovery of Puget Sound salmon and wildlife populations.

During the past decade, the refuge and close partners, including the Tribe and Ducks Unlimited, have restored more than 22 miles of the historic tidal slough systems and re-connected historic floodplains to the Puget Sound in Washington State, providing the potential to increase salt marsh habitat in the southern reach of Puget Sound by more than 50 percent. The projects have also initiated the restoration of more than 70 acres of riparian surge plain forest, an extremely depleted type of tidal forest important for juvenile salmon and songbirds. Science monitoring led by a team including the U.S. Geological Survey, the Nisqually Tribe, and the refuge continues.

Published On

Organization(s)

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the premier government agency dedicated to the conservation, protection, and enhancement of fish, wildlife and plants, and their habitats. It is the only agency in the federal government whose primary responsibility is management of these important natural resources for the American public. The Service also helps ensure a healthy environment for people through its work benefiting wildlife, and by providing opportunities for Americans to enjoy the outdoors and our shared natural heritage.

Ducks Unlimited conserves, restores and manages wetlands and associated habitats for North America's waterfowl. These habitats also benefit other wildlife and people.

Keywords

Scale
Community / Local
Tribal / First Nation
Sector Addressed
Conservation / Restoration
Water Resources
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy
Natural Resource Management / Conservation
Incorporate climate-smart guidelines into restoration
Target Climate Changes and Impacts
Flooding
Flow patterns
Precipitation
Sea level rise
Habitat/Biome Type
Aquatic
Estuarine
Sociopolitical Setting
Urban
Suburban
Region
Coasts
North America
United States
Northwest