Puget Sound Innovation Stories

Skokomish Estuary Restoration

The Skokomish River floods more frequently than any river in Washington, and yet the river channel often goes dry during Chinook salmon migration. This is because nearly half of the Skokomish River estuary had been converted to diked farmland, which contributed to flooding, declining salmon, and reduced farming.

Over the past decade, the Skokomish Tribe has successfully restored 1,000 acres of the estuary. Miles of dikes were removed, and the tides and floods could freely flow again on the floodplain. Fish-blocking tide gates and culverts were removed, restoring 20 miles of stream channels, and rootwads were installed to support habitat in the channels. New, salmon-friendly bridges and larger culverts reconnected freshwater wetlands to the estuary, further improving the habitat.

Restoration efforts saw immediate success. The very next day after one of the levees was removed, salmon were seen returning to spawn. More than 114 different species of wildlife have been observed using the area.

People have benefited too. Local schools use the estuary for their outdoor science programs; tribal members now have easy access to the estuary and tidelands for harvesting traditional plants and shellfish; and flooding on private and public land has been reduced.

Funding Sources:

  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • Salmon Recovery Funding Board
  • Washington Recreation and Conservation Office
  • Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • Local match funding

Congressional District: 6


  • Skokomish Tribe
  • Mason Conservation District
  • Hood Canal Coordinating Council
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Mason County Public Utility District #1
  • City of Tacoma, Skokomish Watershed Action Team
  • U.S. Army Corp of Engineers
  • NOAA Fisheries
  • Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office
  • Floodplains by Design partnership

NWIFC -Skokomish Dike Breaching Tom Strong Kris Miller Sept 07

Photo credits: Tiffany Royal, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission

More Info

Publish Date: April 20, 2017
Category: Estuaries | Salmon
Congressional Districts: Congressional Dist. 6
Legislative Districts: Legislative Dist. 35
Counties: Mason