Cornet Bay Restoration
At Cornet Bay on the northern tip of Whidbey Island we are restoring about 1,000 feet of altered shoreline to more natural condition. Our partners are Washington State Parks, Island County, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Northwest Straits Foundation.
Cornet Bay is a functioning estuary located alongside the narrow, deep channel of Deception Pass, about five miles from the mouths of both the north and south forks of the Skagit River. The Skagit is the largest source of out-migrating juvenile Chinook salmon in Puget Sound and Cornet Bay is about halfway to the open ocean on the shortest path to it from both mouths of the river.
Major elements of our project involve removing a creosote bulkhead and the fill material behind it, re-grading the beach to match existing, natural, beach slope at nearby reference sites and replanting the restored shore area with native vegetation. The work is designed to improve spawning habitat for forage fish and nearshore habitat for salmon and forage fish. This will eliminate a source of beach scouring, expand intertidal habitat, improve beach composition, remove a source of hydrocarbons leaching from the bulkhead and improve riparian vegetation.
Our work includes ongoing monitoring of how juvenile salmon use Cornet Bay. To learn more about this, please see the following studies:
Our Cornet Bay project was funded initially by a $175,000 grant to the MRC in 2007 from the National Fish and Wildlife Federation (NFWF). We are matching this with about $41,000 of MRC funds and in-kind services. By the end of 2010 the total project value had grown to more than $700,000 with these additional resources:
- $45,000 -- Washington State Parks matching resources
- $44,000 -- Northwest Straits Commission
- $50,000 -- Oak Harbor off-site mitigation funding
- $4,675 -- Watershed characterization work
- $75,000 -- NFWF additional funding
- $35,000 -- US Fish & Wildlife Service
- $268,875 -- Salmon Recovery Funding Board
We view Cornet Bay as an important opportunity to showcase successful restoration to the Island County community. Plans call for making this work a part of park outreach projects for the next several years, including the installation of interpretive signage. The restoration message will reach thousands of visitors annually because Cornet Bay is one of the most heavily-used fishing, boating and picnic areas in the parks system.