It’s been a long time coming – almost a century and a half since the railroad cut off the estuary at the mouth of Lund’s Creek from Puget Sound, and a decade since the county, the state, the federal government, and BNSF partnered to restore it – but at a well-attended ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday morning officials and representatives from all participants joined together to celebrate the completion of a project that benefits people, salmon, orcas and other marine life, the surrounding community, and the entire Puget Sound ecosystem.
This is the first Puget Sound shoreline restoration project that included enlarging a stream crossing under railroad tracks along the shoreline. The installation of a wide railroad bridge to replace the undersized culverts was critical to converting what had become park lawn areas into high-functioning estuarine habitat.
The newly restored estuary provides habitat for an array of wildlife, a place for juvenile salmon to rest and adjust before entering the marine environment, and a transition area for returning adults to prepare for their journey upstream to spawn.
“This project is a win-win-win,” said U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, who was on hand for the event. “Dire environmental consequences were simply not taken into account a century ago when the railroad came through. Salmon used to grow big and strong here at the mouth of Lund’s Creek, but the coming of the railroad destroyed that.
“A 120-foot embankment shut off the estuary leaving only a 6-foot culvert for the creek to flow into Puget Sound. Salmon could not successfully navigate this narrow passage, the estuary dried up, and this vital environmental resource was lost.
“Now more than 100 years later we have completed a major step in returning the area to its natural state by replacing the 6-foot culvert under the tracks with a 100-foot opening, restoring 1.3 acres of estuary and in addition providing an ADA-accessible beach so all may see and enjoy this special place.”
Other speakers included Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers, who praised all who partnered in bringing the project to completion, Tulalip Tribes Vice Chair Misty Napeahi who spoke to the significance of the area to the Tulalip people, and Snohomish County Councilmember and District 21 State Rep. Strom Peterson, who acknowledged the efforts of all involved, particularly noting that the project represents one small step toward honoring the treaty rights of the tribes.
— Story and photos by Larry Vogel