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Nisqually Delta with Mt hood in background.

The Nisqually River Delta

The Nisqually Glacier on Mt. Rainier forms the headwaters of the Nisqually River.  The Nisqually River meanders for 80 miles through forests, foothills, farmland, several towns, a reservoir, and eventually empties into the Nisqually River Delta in southern Puget Sound.  The Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge) and the Nisqually Tribe (Tribe) have partnered to protect and restore the Delta and together almost 900 acres have been reconnected to Puget Sound waters, representing the single largest estuary restoration project to date in the Pacific Northwest and one of the most significant advances to date towards the recovery of Puget Sound.

Nisqually River Delta aerial image with location tags.

The restored habitat mosaic is comprised of freshwater to saltwater transitional wetlands and forests, tidal marsh, mud flats, and eelgrass beds.  The ultimate goal of the restoration is to increase the capacity of the estuary to support a diversity of wildlife, waterbirds, and native fish such as the Nisqually Fall Chinook (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), a population listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act and a vital cultural resource.  

Nisqually Delta Estuary Zones - Post Restoration

The restoration of an estuarine and tidal marsh landscape mosaic is important because it increase the health and wellbeing for wildlife and humans alike.  Since estuaries and healthy coastal habitats are of the most productive ecosystems on earth they provide a variety of benefits including: habitat and food resources for a variety of fish and wildlife, flood and erosion protection, improving water quality, increased carbon sequestration, and supporting human recreation and aesthetics.  Here we focus on two of the ecosystem benefits of estuarine restoration: foodweb support and carbon sequestration.

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