Last week, Friends of the San Juans enhanced habitat for beach spawning forage fish along Barlow Bay at the south end of Lopez Island. Over the years, substantial rock from road protection efforts has fallen onto the middle and upper portions of the beach, degrading habitat at one of only nine known Pacific sand lance spawning sites in San Juan County.
Sand lance are a key food item for many fish, seabirds, and marine mammals, including salmon and bottomfish. Sand lance lay their eggs on sandy upper beaches. Land use practices, especially armoring, can easily damage this valuable and limited shoreline zone.
Local contractor Michael Budnick, hired by FOSJ, restacked rock along Barlow Bay's public and private roads, improving the spawning beaches and repairing the failing road protection.
"The Friends of the San Juans' habitat restoration project was a win win for everyone" states San Olson, FOSJ board member and neighborhood resident, "while the primary objective was to enhance critical spawning habitat and support marine food webs, we were also able to use the rocks removed from the beach to fill gaps and improve protection along the road". Thanks to San Juan County Public Works, Barlow Bay shoreline property owners and the Salmon Point Community for their support of the project. Also thanks to the Washington State Salmon Recovery Board provided for funding this small but important restoration project.
For more information on priority shoreline habitats and species, or the work FRIENDS is doing throughout the county to protect and restore them, visit www.sanjuans.org.