Puget Sound Innovation Stories

Bowman Beach Nearshore Restoration

Restoring an ecosystem and providing a beach to enjoy

Bowman Bay is a pocket beach located in the Whidbey Basin at Deception Pass State Park. Prior to the 1970s, a seawall was built to protect a fish hatchery that was operated at the site. The hatchery was dismantled, but the large rocks used to build the seawall were left behind. The seawall prevented movement of sediment from the land down to the beach which resulted in the loss of native plants and beach habitat in the nearshore. The Skagit County Marine Resources Committee (MRC) partnered with the Northwest Straits Foundation and Washington State Parks to remove the seawall along the shoreline. The project helped restored habitat for forage fish, juvenile salmon and bull trout. Forage fish are an important food source for salmon, sea birds, marine mammals, and other wildlife. In addition to the ecological benefits, removing the seawall improved access to the beach for kayakers and other park visitors. Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group continues to maintain the new vegetation while Salish Sea Steward and MRC volunteers monitor the habitat and species changes resulting from the restoration actions.

What worked:

  • Removal of 1,600 tons of rocks and seawall material from 540 feet of shoreline restored beach habitat for forage fish and other wildlife.
  • Beach sand and cobble added to the beach provided the right size and texture of material for forage fish to lay their eggs.
  • The restored beach attracted surf smelt to lay eggs on the beach for the first time.
  • Restoration of one-half acre of sand beach and addition of native plants stabilized the beach and provided nutrients, insects, and shade for fish and birds using the shoreline.
  • Removing the large rocks provided visitors with easier access to the beach.


  • Interpretive signs continue to educate visitors to the park.
  • Sediment from the land continues to provide sand and material to build the beach.
  • The stable shoreline attracts large wood which creates habitat and food for shore birds.


  • Congressional District: 2
  • Legislative District: 10
  • WRIA: 3
  • County: Skagit


  • Skagit County Marine Resources Committee
  • Northwest Straits Foundation
  • Washington State Parks
  • Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group

Project Funding:

  • Estuary Salmon Restoration Program
  • EPA National Estuary Program
    • Skagit MRC/Northwest Straits Commission
    • Puget Sound Marine Nearshore Grant Program
  • Alcoa Foundation

More Info

Publish Date: July 10, 2019
Category: Nearshore
Congressional Districts: Congressional Dist. 2
Legislative Districts: Legislative Dist. 10
Counties: Skagit
Habitat Types: Marine | Nearshore