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diver planting eelgrass at Milwaukee Dock project
Diver planting eelgrass at Milwaukee Dock project

Eagle Harbor Project Wins Restoration Excellence Award

June 28, 2016

Last month, we wrapped up the last restoration project for the Eagle Harbor case. This week, the Suquamish Tribe received an Excellence in Restoration award from the NOAA Restoration Center for their dedication and hard work.

This eelgrass restoration project will benefit threatened Puget Sound chinook and steelhead, and restore natural resources injured by years of contamination.

The Suquamish Tribe has lived along the shoreline of Eagle Harbor for 5,000 years. The first Euro-Americans settled in the area in the 1870s. In the early 1900s a large shipyard was built, and in 1903 the Wyckoff Company wood treatment plant began operating.

The plant and shipyard released hazardous substances, such as creosote and mercury, into Eagle Harbor for more than 80 years. Approximately 500 acres of Eagle Harbor were affected. In 1987, the EPA listed the area as a Superfund site due to contamination in groundwater, soils, and sediments. Extensive cleanup work has been completed since, and remediation is ongoing. 

NOAA and trustees began restoration in 2009. We restored shorelines, removed bulkheads and fill, and planted marsh and riparian vegetation. This last project, at the Milwaukee Dock, restored the natural elevation of sediment and planted eelgrass in these areas. Eelgrass is essential fish habitat for Chinook salmon and steelhead trout and is a “valued ecosystem component” in Puget Sound. Increasing the amount of eelgrass is one of the highest priorities for restoring the health of Puget Sound.

The first phase of the project was supported with Wyckoff settlement funds. Funding for the second phase was obtained by the Suquamish Tribe, one of the trustees for Eagle Harbor. The Tribe was recognized for their outstanding efforts in ensuring the project was completed.

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