2021 National Coastal Wetlands Conservation grant awards

We're excited to announce we were awarded just more than $3.56 million in National Coastal Wetlands Conservation grants through the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to fund four projects.

Although only states can apply for the grants, we work in close partnership with land trusts, local and tribal governments, and other entities to restore and protect wetlands across Washington. We've been successful in helping projects totaling about $127 million conserve more than 13,000 acres of wetlands. Wetlands help control flooding, clean the environment, provide habitat, recharge groundwater, and do much more to benefit the ecosystem.

2021 funded projects

(You can click on the images below to enlarge them.)

View of Little Squalicum Estuary at sunset. Photo courtesy of Garth Baldwin.

Little Squalicum Estuary Protection ($1 million)

We're working in collaboration with the City of Bellingham to restore critical coastal wetland habitat in Bellingham Bay, just east of the Nooksack River Delta. The project will restore 4.85 acres of coastal wetland habitat, including a 2.4-acre estuary, and remove a fish passage barrier at the mouth of Little Squalicum Creek. The benefits of this project include restoring tidal and sedimentary processes, and reestablishing estuary, saltmarsh and mudflat habitat where historical wetlands have been lost. The estuary will provide rearing and foraging habitat for endangered juvenile Chinook, steelhead and bull trout, and coho salmon. Dredge material will be beneficially re-used to restore documented forage fish spawning habitat immediately west of the re-established estuary. This project will also protect sensitive coastal wetland and wildlife by redirecting recreational activities to more ecologically appropriate parts of Little Squalicum Park.

This coastal wetland habitat along Nisqually Reach in Thurston County will be restored and protected. Photo courtesy of Eric Erler.

Nisqually Reach Coastal Protection and Restoration ($687,750)

We're working in partnership with Nisqually Land Trust to protect 132 acres of coastal habitat stretching along the southern edge of Nisqually Reach in southern Puget Sound via permanent Conservation Easement. This project will protect 7,830 feet of shoreline habitat critical for 70 species of migratory and coastal-dependent birds, as well as estuarine and marine habitats that sustain five salmonid species and other forage fish. It will prevent future development at the site and restore essential nearshore processes including sediment input, transport, and accretion. The project will also restore degraded estuarine and forested areas within the project site. It also supports the Nisqually Land Trust Marine Conservation Initiative and is consistent with and supported by more than 25 conservation and recovery plans.

Arial shot of Padilla and Samish Bays in Skagit County. Photo courtesy of Skagit Land Trust.

Padilla and Samish Bays Coastal Protection ($875,000)

We are working in partnership with the Skagit Land Trust to acquire and permanently protect 50.6 acres of wetlands, field and forest habitat and historic slough, along with 2,500 feet of marine coastline along two bays in northern Skagit County, Washington. The site supports freshwater wetlands, riparian slough habitat, beach habitat on Padilla Bay, and salt marsh and tidelands on Samish Bay. This habitat is beneficial to forage fish spawning and eelgrass communities and provides foraging habitat for a multitude of bird species. Other benefits include reduction of site contamination and control of invasive species. Protecting this land will prevent future development, allow for future restoration of nearshore processes, and allow public access for low-impact recreation.

In this phase of the project, over 500 acres of former coastal wetlands will be acquired and protected in Snohomish County. Photo courtesy of Jason Griffith.

Stillaguamish Tidal Wetland Acquisition Phase 2 ($1 million)

We are working with the Stillaguamish Tribe to acquire and permanently protect 537 acres of former coastal wetlands in Snohomish County, Washington. This project is the second step toward restoring tidal and riverine influence to a large swath of land diked in the late 1800s. The first phase of this project included the acquisition of 248 acres to the southeast through a previous National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program award. The current project will benefit a wide range of fish and wildlife species, including Endangered Species Act-listed Chinook salmon populations of the Stillaguamish and Skagit Rivers, while linking together conserved lands to the north and south. This project will also allow conservation of lands that will benefit waterfowl and shorebirds that use the Pacific Flyway. The tidal wetland restoration planned for future phases of this project is specifically called for in the Puget Sound Chinook Recovery Plan.