Emergency repairs are underway at the McGlinn Island Jetty near La Conner in Skagit County, where hundreds of dead baby chum salmon have been discovered after they were trapped in a cove on the north end of the jetty.
The jetty, constructed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers in 1938, has fallen into a state of significant disrepair, and hasn’t been maintained by the corps since 1963. Hundreds of infant chum salmon have been killed as a result of the crumbling infrastructure.
Biologists with the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community reported dozens of dead and injured juvenile fish in mid-April, prompting the corps to evaluate maintenance and repair options. In the weeks that followed, more dead and injured fish appeared as a result of holes along the jetty. Repairs began May 22.
“We identified appropriate funding and awarded a contract to implement the solution within weeks of the first observation of concern,” Colonel Alexander “Xander” Bullock, Seattle District commander for the corps, said in a statement. “This solution will minimize harm to Endangered Species Act-listed fish during the coming fish run. Protecting the viability of juvenile salmon is of paramount concern.”
The baby salmon, spawned in the Skagit River and its tributaries, are not quite strong enough to swim through the jetty, where high-velocity water is pushing the small fish through gaps and holes in the jetty, causing “severe injury,” the corps said.
Throughout the repair process, the corps will work to fill the holes in the jetty and conduct significant environmental monitoring with tribes and other federal and state agencies.
Repairs are almost finished, the corps wrote, with work anticipated in the area until June 9.