Thomas' Eddy Restoration Project

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  • Preliminary site preparation has begun and will continue in 2024 with vegetation management, invasive plant removal and native plantings.
  • Major construction is scheduled to follow in 2025.

Project Overview

The County’s work at Thomas’ Eddy proposes to reconnect the Snohomish River to the floodplain around Bob Heirman Wildlife Park, and improve opportunities for fishing, hiking and wildlife viewing while restoring critical habitat for wildlife and threatened salmon species. To ensure these goals are met, Snohomish County solicited early input on project design from the public and park users. 

Why is Restoration Needed? 

Bob Heirman Wildlife Park was acquired to provide sustainable fishing and recreation opportunities and wildlife habitat. With two lakes, wetlands, and an extensive river environment, the Park offers opportunities for people to boat, fish, bird watch, walk, and enjoy being outside. The Park’s open space is home to a variety of local wildlife and provides important habitat for migratory waterfowl including iconic trumpeter swans. 

Much of the Park’s riverbank is a deteriorating levee – a relic of the past when the property was privately owned. Today, the levee cuts the river off from its floodplain and constrains its ability to create and maintain fish and wildlife habitat. This site is identified in the Snohomish River Basin Salmon Conservation Plan as a priority for restoration. This is because restoring the river’s connection to its floodplain will enhance juvenile salmon rearing opportunities and contribute to sustainable recreation and fishable salmon runs in the Snohomish River.

This restoration project is an opportunity to protect recreation amenities and the Thomas’ Eddy fishing access that is important to Park users. If actions are not taken, it is likely that the Snohomish River will continue to erode the old levee which could have unintended consequence for both recreation and habitat. 

Project Description

Snohomish County is moving forward on designs for a floodplain restoration project at Bob Heirman Wildlife Park. In 2018, the County received a $200,000 salmon recovery grant from the Washington State Salmon Recovery Funding Board for the preliminary design and outreach phase of the project. The new Snohomish County Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Surface Water Management and Parks Divisions worked in collaboration with several community stakeholders, agencies, and Tribes to develop a project design that maintains or improves access to fishing, hiking and wildlife viewing while restoring critical habitat for wildlife and threatened salmon species.

A consultant team led by Stantec and ESA produced preliminary restoration plans that built upon input from stakeholders.

The project is now in the final planning and permitting phase. Consultant selection for this phase will take place in early 2023 and the new contract will carry the project through construction. Initial site prep, including invasive weed removal, will take place in the summer of 2023 and major construction is expected to begin in 2024. 

Construction will largely be funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s National Coastal Resilience Fund, in partnership with NOAA, which awarded $5.85 million to the project in December 2022. The County will leverage these federal dollars with a combination of state grant dollars and local funds. 

Thomas' Eddy_Project Outreach Timeline

Public Engagement Timeline

Snohomish County and consultants met with local stakeholders beginning in spring 2021 to gather input on the restoration project design. The project team incorporated ideas and concerns from this engagement as they developed initial design elements and conducted hydraulic modeling of the site. Results of these efforts will continue to be made available for public review and comment through additional meetings with stakeholders and the public. 

Opportunities to Get Involved

Sign up to receive an email notification when this project page is updated, and to learn about future public meetings and public comment opportunities.

Public comment period held through mid-May, 2022 - The public was invited to share input from park users on early project design. The early comment period is closed. However the public is invited to contact us with questions anytime. 

Project Open House at Bob Heirman Wildlife Park - April 1 & 2, 10am to 4pm: The public was invited to Bob Heirman Wildlife Park to learn more about proposed park improvements at Thomas' Eddy from county staff. This was a chance to ask questions about early project design and share input from park users.  

About the Snohomish River Floodplain

Rivers move and change size over time. The space that a river occupies during high flows is called the floodplain. Historically, the Snohomish River had a bigger floodplain than we see today. That floodplain was cut off from the river by levees, allowing the land behind the levees to be dry year-round. When levees are removed, partially removed, or rebuilt further back from the river, the river can move over that part of the floodplain again. This can provide many benefits to people and wildlife, including cleaner water, recreation opportunities, places for wild animals to live, healthier soils, flood safety, and more. One potential benefit of restoration at Thomas’ Eddy is the possibility to create calmer river spaces for salmon eggs to grow and for juvenile salmon to rest and hide from predators.