Qwuloolt estuary restoration on schedule, Tulalip ecologist says

It’s quiet out at Qwuloolt, a 400-acre expanse of farmland protected from annual floods by a network of ditches and tide gates and a levee near Jones and Allen Creeks in Marysville.

That will change this summer, when crews will descend on the area to fill ditches and plant flora native to the region, said Kurt Nelson, an ecologist with the Tulalip Tribes.

The $13 million project remains on schedule, Nelson said. Tribal ecologists are currently working on an agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to design a levee to protect Brashler Industrial Park, just north of Qwuloolt, and the city of Marysville’s sewage treatment lagoon, located to the east.

The work will continue through next summer, and by 2010, when the rains come, Qwuloolt will flood. Already, crews have extended creekbeds to historic routes. They plan to remove four tide gates and about 3,000 feet of levee. That portion of the plan alone will cost about $3 million.

The Tulalip Tribes have, for more than a decade, been purchasing the farmland in the area with the intent of restoring the Qwuloolt estuary to its native bounty.

That means salmon, waterfowl and other creatures will thrive in an area where they were once forced into narrow irrigation ditches created by farmers.

The project will restore about 2 percent of the estuary that originally dominated the area.

Reporter Krista J. Kapralos: 425-339-3422 or kkapralos@heraldnet.com.

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