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Catherine Soper
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Everett Port Commission approves project to restore 358-acres of tidal marshland in Snohomish County

Post Date:02/17/2006

Everett, Wash. - On Feb.14, Everett Port Commissioners approved a contract with Wildlands Construction to create a wetland mitigation bank on the Port-owned Biringer property.

The Port of Everett purchased the 358-acre site, which is located on Spencer Island off Highway 529 between Everett and Marysville, from Mike & Diane Biringer in 1993 for environmental mitigation uses. In October 2003, the Port completed a feasibility study on the use of Biringer Farm as a mitigation bank. In August 2005, the Port Commission selected Wildlands, who has an office in Marysville, to plan, permit, construct and sell mitigation credits for the property.

"I was on the Port Commission when the Biringer's first approached the port about selling the property for mitigation uses," Port Commission Vice-President Don Hopkins said. "I want to thank Mike and Diane Biringer for having maintained this property so well, while we worked to realize the Biringer's vision for a mitigation bank on Spencer Island."

The Biringer property is in an area with high potential for estuarine salmon habitat restoration, said Martha Neuman, lead salmon recovery planner for the Snohomish River basin and the senior planner for Surface Water Management at Snohomish County Department of Public Works.

"Restoring tidal marsh in the Snohomish Estuary is a very high priority for local salmon recovery," Neuman said. "The Port's project at the Biringer property has a high potential for estuarine salmon habitat restoration, especially for young fish. This work will help achieve a local recovery goal to restore over 1,200 acres in the estuary by 2015."

By breaching the dike, the project is able to create more than 300 acres of freshwater wetlands and brackish marsh habitat in Snohomish County. This is in addition to the nearly 24 acres that the Port has already restored adjacent to the Biringer property.

Some of the benefits of wetland mitigation banking include:

  • A net increase in the salmon habitat area and quality in the lower Snohomish Estuary.
  • Provides a shallow brackish water habitat for native fish, shellfish, tiny shrimp-like animals and shorebirds in the area by creating a unified ecosystem.
  • Allows for more flexibility in mitigating unavoidable impacts by permitting mitigation to occur off-site.

The mitigation bank will provide compensation for other Port projects, as well as provide mitigation credits to third parties. The Port will maintain ownership of the property. Construction is expected to start in mid-2007.

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