A conservation bank can be established when a wetland, stream, or other aquatic resource has been restored, enhanced, created, or (in some cases) preserved for the purpose of providing compensation for unavoidable impacts to aquatic resources caused by other developments.
Conservation banks can be used to compensate for adverse impacts of a single large project, or of several smaller projects. Conservation banking allows local governments and developers to earn “credits” to be used to offset unavoidable damage to wetlands or other aquatic habitats. These “credits” can be either used or sold.
The Port of Everett has created three conservation projects to compensate for future aquatic resource impacts from Port development projects: Blue Heron Slough, Union Slough and the Malsby Mudflats. Explore these properties and other Port mitigation sites below.
Blue Heron Slough is an approximate 350-acre habitat mitigation bank that creates natural tidal estuary habitat designed to provide high functioning aquatic and nearshore habitat for sea-life and birds, in particular salmon. The land will be sculpted with heavy construction equipment to mirror natural river and tidal channels and will be planted with native plants. The longstanding manmade dikes that separate this land from the waters of the Snohomish River will be breached in several locations to allow the ebb and flow of water through the new habitat. The construction of this project is expected to start in full force in 2019 with completion likely in the 2023 timeframe.
The newly restored channels will provide habitat for migrating and resident fish, large woody debris will be strategically installed to create fish refuge, the restoration of estuarine habitat will contribute to the aquatic food chain, and the permanent protection of these tidally influenced habitats will provide long-term watershed benefits.
The Port and Wildlands are currently pursing wetland credits for the site.
Interested in mitigation credits?
The project was developed under guidance from endangered species recovery planning efforts for Chinook salmon and bull trout in Puget Sound and the Snohomish River Estuary. Restoration activities at the site will increase the tidally-influenced acreage in the Snohomish River Estuary by about 13 percent. This area is considered to be of high value as a saltwater transition zone and rearing area for juvenile salmonids.
Because of its location near the mouths of Union Slough and Steamboat Slough, it has a high potential for providing tremendous regional environmental benefits and has been given a high priority for restoration in local salmon recovery plans.
The Port purchased the land in 1993. After completing a feasibility study on the use of the property as a mitigation bank in October of 2003, the Port of Everett decided to restore the land to its natural state for long range economic and environmental purposes. In August 2005, the Port Commission selected Wildlands Inc., a conservation bank development company, to plan, permit, construct and operate the habitat mitigation bank. The property is certified by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for fish credits, once the permanent easement is placed on the land and the habitat is constructed. The Port and Wildlands are currently working to obtain wetland accreditation for the bank.
Similar to the Union Slough Salt Marsh, the project will generate habitat conservation credits that can be used to offset marine impacts from future Port projects, as well as providing mitigation credits for sale to third parties.
HOURS OF OPERATION:
- April thru October: Dawn until Dusk
- November thru March: CLOSED
The property is maintained in partnership with the nonprofit group, EarthCorps, who leads volunteer efforts to remove invasive species, to establish native riparian vegetation, and to monitor the ecological performance of the site. The Port earned an environmental mitigation award from the American Association of Port Authorities in 2001 for its work on this project.
Union Slough has greatly exceeded the Port’s expectations for the success of the environmental restoration. Aquatic bird life, Dungeness crab, juvenile salmonids and many other forms of animal life, as well as plant life have been observed on what was once a diked agricultural field.
The Port of Everett owns 1,800 acres of tidelands. As part of the mitigation for the construction of Mount Baker Terminal, the Port of Everett agreed to place 60 acres of its Malsby Mudflats under a conservation easement.
The port-owned Jetty Island is a man-made island composed of sediment deposited by the Snohomish River. It began as a riprap jetty in the late 1800s and provided a protected harbor and navigation channel. The Port of Everett gained ownership of Jetty Island in 1929 and, with the help of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, built a new marsh of dredged river materials in 1989.
The original dredged material is more than 100 years old and has been added to over time as the result of maintenance dredging of the Snohomish River Channel. Juvenile salmon, waterfowl and bald eagles are just a few examples of the wildlife currently living on Jetty Island. Continuous work is being done to improve and expand the island’s wildlife habitat.
Jetty Island is a jewel to all who visit its sandy beaches, a rarity in the Pacific Northwest. Visitors often speak of Jetty Island’s untouched natural beauty. With no electricity or plumbing, the only structure on the island is the seasonal floating restroom off its shores. The sandy beaches and shallow waters make the water warm enough for any swimmer to enjoy. Set up your beach towels, bring your bucket and shovel to play in the sand and be prepared for the perfect day at the beach.
The extreme sport kiteboarding is growing in popularity and many athletes travel from outside the area to kiteboard at Jetty Island.
The island is as educationally important as it is for summer recreation, serving as the perfect teaching tool regarding the importance of wildlife preservation and the nearby estuary. There are several educational walks and tours offered to learn about the local ecosystem. Many visitors come to observe the wide variety of bird species that have made Jetty Island their home. More than 50,000 people visit the Jetty Island each year!