Edgewater Beach Bulkhead Removal

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Armoring removal at Edgewater
Surf smelt egg count at the Northern, unarmored Edgewater site

In an effort to restore nearshore processes and habitat, South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group participated in the removal of ~ 800 foot of armoring from the base of an historic feeder bluff near Edgewater Beach and Hunter Point, Olympia, WA. Effects of the bulkhead and armoring on the shoreline ecosystem include:

  • Direct burial of habitat in the intertidal zone
  • Suppression of sedimentparticles of clay, silt, sand, gravel, or cobble, transported by water, are called sediment. input from the feeder bluff
  • Interruption of inputs from detritus and freshwater springs


This project is addressing the root causes of degradation along the nearshore environment and within the drift cell. Since the site is near the up-drift end of the drift cell, it is assumed to affect the sedimentparticles of clay, silt, sand, gravel, or cobble, transported by water, are called sediment. supply for the down-drift areas and thus the underlying geology and habitat formation for the whole drift cell. By removing the bulkhead and groin, the sedimentparticles of clay, silt, sand, gravel, or cobble, transported by water, are called sediment. supply from the feeder bluff will be allowed to enter the system unhindered and direct nearshore beach habitat will be gained. ESRP funds helped produce the monitoring and stewardship plan, collect baseline monitoring before bulkhead removal (Aug. 2016), and conduct the year 1 beach monitoring effort (Aug. 2017). This project is intended to benefit target salmonid species such as Chinook salmon, Coho salmon, Chum Salmon, and Cutthroat Trout, as well as other marine taxa.


The effects of this restoration effort are being evaluated by monitoring the site of removal in addition to the unaltered updrift (armored) and downdrift (reference/unarmored) sites. Sampling was done before (2014 and 2016) armor removal in Oct. 2016, and will be repeated 1 year after (2017), and 2 years after (2018) restoration.

Transects set up at each of the 3 sites will assess:

  • Amount and type of wrack
  • Organisms in the wrack and riparian zone
  • Epibiota and infauna at Mean Low Water (MLW)
  • Sediment grain sizes and beach profile
  • Beach topography

In addition, this project site has become a magnet for learning opportunities for other organizations, so that data are also being gathered on:

  • Forage fish spawning use (WDFW)
  • Use of the beaches by fishes and crabs during high tide (NOAA)
  • Beach and bluff topography (WA Dept. of Ecology)
  • Nearshore fishes (seining by Squaxin tribes)
  • Survival of eelgrass transplants (WA DNR)

Already, surf smelt eggs have been found on the upper shore at the unarmored Northern reference beach at Edgewater, especially in the winter. Continued sampling will reveal if smelt now start using the restored beach. (See "Surf Smelt Eggs" figure above. Dashed vertical line indicates date of armor removal in Oct. 2016. Data from WDFW.)

Feeder bluff at Edgewater