I starting to imagine what emergent wetland habitats would look and feel like on this barren sand island in the Xiang River with the SWA Group in 2012. It started with just a sketch…
Prior to Army Corps anti-logjam crusade in the late 1800s, the Skagit River Valley was a beaver and salmon playground (an excerpt from Ben Goldfarb’s recent book Eager). Government Land Office (GLO) surveys between 1866 to 1895 (below) document “willow swamps” and “lagoons”, clearly the handy work of beavers. They created diverse wetland complexes along Nookachamps Creek floodplain, which encompasses the current Skagit Environmental Bank property (390 ac) in Washington State.
To reverse a century of agricultural drainage practices and restore wetland hydrology on this piece of property, a series of channel spanning wood weirs were constructed in 2016 to emulated beaver dams. They collect fines, provide much needed fish habitat, raise surface water elevations, and thus increase wetland hydrology.
Any yes, with the sound of leaky water, the beavers have returned (below)! We have done our best to restore basic structure to this site, now it is up to the locals to do the rest.