Presentation Abstract

Puget Sound’s nearshore has been substantially modified since the Industrial Revolution with extensive infrastructure developed along the shoreline. In Washington State, the BNSF railroad right-of-way runs along 52 miles of the shoreline, while another 73 miles of railroad is within 200 feet of the shoreline. In many places, the railroad forms a barrier between the coastal watershed and the shoreline preventing the delivery of water, sediment, wood and organic matter into the nearshore. This creates ongoing degradation of habitat quality in the nearshore, including small estuaries and coastal embayments, which provide important habitat to juvenile Chinook salmon. In addition, the modifications associated with the railroad also limit juvenile salmon movements in estuaries, including juvenile chinook who are documented using the estuaries and freshwater habitats of non-natal streams. Nearshore restoration along the railroad is expensive and requires extensive planning. To maximize environmental benefits, restoration efforts should be focused on those areas that provide substantial benefits to fish habitat and nearshore processes. Confluence Environmental is leading a project to prioritize and evaluate coastal embayments and streams along the 125 miles of railroad-impacted shoreline. The project is synthesizing existing data, as well as identifying and filling data gaps for use in the prioritization. This prioritization will be integrated with a list of known railroad maintenance and upgrade needs. An advisory team is guiding the development of the prioritization to ensure it can support identified local and regional restoration outcomes. The outcome of the project will include a prioritized list of coastal embayments and streams to support strategic restoration choices and potential matching of upgrades and maintenance along the railroad to mitigation projects that will benefit fisheries and shoreline processes. The list will also enable independent funders to evaluate the benefits among restoration projects.

Session Title

Big Objects Need Big Solutions: Addressing the Environmental Effects of Major Infrastructure Around the Salish Sea

Keywords

Railroad, Stream, Culvert, Restoration, Bay, Chinook, Salmon

Conference Track

SSE1: Habitat Restoration and Protection

Conference Name

Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference (Seattle, WA : 2018)

Document Type

Event

SSEC Identifier

SSE1-492

Start Date

6-4-2018 2:00 PM

End Date

6-4-2018 2:15 PM

Type of Presentation

Oral

Contributing Repository

Digital content made available by University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Geographic Coverage

Salish Sea (B.C. and Wash.)

Rights

This resource is displayed for educational purposes only and may be subject to U.S. and international copyright laws. For more information about rights or obtaining copies of this resource, please contact University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225-9103, USA (360-650-7534; heritage.resources@wwu.edu) and refer to the collection name and identifier. Any materials cited must be attributed to the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference Records, University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Type

text

Language

English

Format

application/pdf

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Apr 6th, 2:00 PM Apr 6th, 2:15 PM

Working on the railroad: coastal streams prioritization to inform restoration planning

Puget Sound’s nearshore has been substantially modified since the Industrial Revolution with extensive infrastructure developed along the shoreline. In Washington State, the BNSF railroad right-of-way runs along 52 miles of the shoreline, while another 73 miles of railroad is within 200 feet of the shoreline. In many places, the railroad forms a barrier between the coastal watershed and the shoreline preventing the delivery of water, sediment, wood and organic matter into the nearshore. This creates ongoing degradation of habitat quality in the nearshore, including small estuaries and coastal embayments, which provide important habitat to juvenile Chinook salmon. In addition, the modifications associated with the railroad also limit juvenile salmon movements in estuaries, including juvenile chinook who are documented using the estuaries and freshwater habitats of non-natal streams. Nearshore restoration along the railroad is expensive and requires extensive planning. To maximize environmental benefits, restoration efforts should be focused on those areas that provide substantial benefits to fish habitat and nearshore processes. Confluence Environmental is leading a project to prioritize and evaluate coastal embayments and streams along the 125 miles of railroad-impacted shoreline. The project is synthesizing existing data, as well as identifying and filling data gaps for use in the prioritization. This prioritization will be integrated with a list of known railroad maintenance and upgrade needs. An advisory team is guiding the development of the prioritization to ensure it can support identified local and regional restoration outcomes. The outcome of the project will include a prioritized list of coastal embayments and streams to support strategic restoration choices and potential matching of upgrades and maintenance along the railroad to mitigation projects that will benefit fisheries and shoreline processes. The list will also enable independent funders to evaluate the benefits among restoration projects.