By Jenny Baker, Senior Restoration Manager

Restoration of the zis a ba tidal marsh, named for a former Stillaguamish Tribal chief, has been documented in a wonderful new video.

Interviews of tribal members, cultural resources experts, tribal staff and consultants all contribute to the story of why this project is so important to the life and culture of the tribe, the complexities of planning and building a project in a built environment, and what this means for salmon and the community.


The zis a ba tidal marsh was restored during summer 2017. I visited the site on a blue-bird day in September and again after the dike had been breached and the tides were coming in on a blustery day in October. Through side-ways rain as the tide rushed onto the site behind him, tribal chairman Shawn Yanity told a group of soggy but excited visitors about the critical importance of chinook salmon to the Stillaguamish Tribe, and the turning point that this project represented – the first tribally-led estuary restoration project in the Stillaguamish. Here’s what was accomplished on the ground:

  •  > 87 acres of tidal wetland restored
  • 4 acres of tidal channel created
  • 131 pieces of wood installed
  • > one mile of levee removed
  • 750 feet of new setback levee constructed
  • One flood return structure installed
  • 300,000 cubic yards of materials moved
  • > $2.3 M in acquisition, design, permitting and construction costs

Less tangible accomplishments are also critically important project outcomes for the tribe and the larger community. The following quotes from the video illustrate some of these less tangible outcomes:

“We would often visit that land just because we felt we were closest to our ancestors and it would bring us back to our more traditional ways of being there on site… bringing our land back to its natural state, that is our way of respecting our ancestors”

-Tracey Boser, Cultural Resource Specialist

“We worked with stakeholders to understand what their concerns were, and worked with Cardno and the engineers to make sure those concerns were dealt with in a way that was robust and we felt confident that we could promise to be good neighbors and not impact their interests.”

-Jason Griffith, Project Manager

Floodplains by Design, a program in which TNC is a partner organization, provided a portion of the funding. Congratulations to the Stillaguamish Tribe on this wonderful accomplishment!