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Corps to plant eelgrass to help restore Eagle Harbor

Eagle Harbor is about to get a little more green as the Army Corps of Engineers continue a project to restore the shoreline to its natural glory.

Ferry commuters may have noticed large barges at the mouth of Eagle Harbor in recent months. They’re part of a restoration effort around Bill Point and have been filling in old wounds along the island’s shoreline.

The Corps of Engineers has overseen the construction of a new underwater bed near the shoreline. Old dredges have been filled in, and new eelgrass will soon be planted.

“Eelgrass provides critical habitat for migratory fish, but it’s also a valuable component to restoring the Puget Sound nearshore,” said John Kern with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Fill work on the dredges was completed

Feb. 12. Workers from Jansen, Inc., based in Ferndale, were using the barges to deposit nearly 14,000 cubic yards of material to fill in an old dredged channel. The material came from a quarry near Shelton.

The channel formerly led to a dock serving the creosote operation on Bill Point. But now the dock, along with creosote production, is gone. The natural habitat has been slow to return to the shores off Bill Point, however.

Now the Corps is ready for the next step. Approximately 1.4 acres of eelgrass will be planted under the water, on top of the newly deposited material.

“The primary reason eelgrass would not grow in these depressions is light didn’t get that deep into the water column,” said Mark Murphy of the Army Corps of Engineers.

“So we filled the depression with suitable material, brought it up to grade where light can reach the bottom and eelgrass has the conditions to reestablish itself.”

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