Puget Sound Innovation Stories

Howarth Park Nearshore Habitat Restoration

Restoring habitat for Forage Fish while Improving a City Beach Park

Howarth Park is a public beach used for recreation and was the site of a large-scale restoration and beach enhancement project in 2016. Along the Everett shoreline, rock bulkheads (seawalls) protect the railroad tracks, but over time they cause loss of sand and gravel from the beach. Forage fish such as surf smelt and sand lance use the beaches to lay their eggs, and the fine sand is important for egg survival. Forage fish are an important food source for salmon, sea birds, marine mammals, and other wildlife. The restoration removed the rock bulkhead and reshaped the beach to a gentle slope. The beach was rebuilt with sand, and large wood was placed on the beach to keep the sand in place. Grass and shrubs were planted to keep the beach from washing away. Sand to build the beach was also added further along the shoreline. Forage fish are laying eggs on the restored beaches, and smelt eggs are now found throughout the year.

What worked:

  • Removal of 300 feet of rock bulkhead, grading the beach, and adding 19,000 cubic yards of sand and gravel increased the amount of beach area for fish and people.
  • Over 15,000 square feet of planted native grass and shrubs prevent the beach from washing away.
  • Sediment from the Port of Everett dredge operations was used to improve fish habitat, returning sand to the beach instead of dumping into deeper water.
  • An additional 22,156 tons of sand was spread across 4.5 miles of adjacent shoreline to provide more habitat for fish to lay eggs.
  • Rocks removed from the beach were used to protect the pedestrian stairs over the railroad.
  • Surf smelt and sand lance returned immediately to lay eggs.
  • Egg surveys and beach plantings were made possible by MRC, Washington Conservation Corps, and local school group volunteers.


  • Restoration improved habitat for Chinook salmon and the forage fish that they eat.
  • Drifting sand along the beach provides new sediment to adjacent beaches.
  • Surf smelt favor the beach at Howarth Park, and the new sand keeps eggs cool and wet until they can hatch.
  • Annual sampling finds very good water quality for swimming standards.
  • The park has expanded beach access and the area is available for walking and recreation.


  • Congressional District: 2
  • Legislative District: 38
  • WRIA: 7
  • County: Snohomish


  • Snohomish County Surface Water Management
  • City of Everett
  • Port of Everett
  • EPA National Estuary Program
  • US Army Corps of Engineers
  • US Fish and Wildlife
  • Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office Salmon Recovery Funding Board
  • Snohomish County Marine Resources Committee

Project Funding:

  • EPA National Estuary Program
  • Salmon Recovery Funding Board
  • Snohomish County Surface Water Management
  • Snohomish County Marine Resources Committee
  • Northwest Straits Commission
  • Northwest Straits Foundations
  • City of Everett

More Info

Publish Date: July 10, 2019
Category: Nearshore
Congressional Districts: Congressional Dist. 2
Legislative Districts: Legislative Dist. 38
Counties: Snohomish
Habitat Types: Marine | Nearshore