Salmon-restoration project may start in summer

EVERETT — Snohomish County this week issued a final environmental impact statement for its Smith Island salmon-restoration project and said crews could be ready to break ground next summer.

The $18 million, mostly grant-funded project affects about 400 acres in the Snohomish River estuary. It’s immediately east of I-5 with Union Slough to the east and north. The tidal marshlands were diked up in the 1930s.

The county plan calls for breaching dikes and building new ones farther from the river to create better habitat for Chinook and other fishes. The county also says the new dikes will better protect the area during floods.

Critics say the plan is too expensive and endangers existing businesses, including a nursery and a lumber mill.

Proponents say the cost of the project has risen, in part, to accommodate agriculture.

The county earlier issued a environmental impact statement in late June 2013, but soon withdrew it to add technical details. The withdrawal followed appeals by the local diking district and the Snohomish County Farm Bureau.

Everett is assisting the county on the project.

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