theler wetlands restoration project

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group (HCSEG) are planning to restore 7 acres of estuarine wetland habitat and reconnect a disrupted trail network at the Mary E. Theler Wetlands Nature Preserve. Union River continues to support the strongest run of Hood Canal summer chum in lower Hood Canal, and significant progress has been made in recent years to protect and restore estuarine and freshwater wetlands, restore riparian vegetation, and improve fish passage. This project will build critical rearing habitat for summer chum by expanding tidal connectivity inside the diked area. This will positively impact plant establishment, tidal channel development, food resources and habitat processes.

The project will also provide recreational benefits. As one of the largest estuary trail complexes on Hood Canal, the 3.2-mile Theler Wetlands Trail provides bird watching groups, educational institutions, and the surrounding community with the experience of viewing native plants, fish, and wildlife in the Union River Estuary. These lands have held considerable value to the Belfair community for decades. A section of the trail atop the levee has been compromised by high tides for over a decade. This project will build an elevated pier in the footprint of the old levee and fully reconnect the trail system.

Theler Wetlands Restoration Goals

Restore 7 acres of wetland habitat for ESA Listed Salmon

Eliminate Roessel Rd. flooding & temporary closure

Improve trail conditions for community access and use

Eliminate a tidal fish passage barrier

Scope of Work
  • Remove levees (7,300 Cubic Yards of fill material); place fill back into the excavated areas to match existing estuarine elevations inside and outside of the removed levee.
  • Fill straitened estuarine channel and excavate a new sinuous pilot channel that mimics other natural channels in the area, connecting it to the existing stream.
  • Work cooperatively with Mason County to raise Roessel Road to eliminate flooding and road closures, connecting the raised road with the existing raised trail/levee system.
  • Raise a portion of existing gravel emergency access road to the new elevation of Roessel Rd.
  • Replace one 18-inch culvert on the existing emergency access road with a 15 ft. culvert.
  • Construct an elevated piling supported pier built in the footprint of the removed levee and connect the existing trails.
  • Re-vegetate with native plants where needed.