Wetlands restoration project to benefit endangered salmon

Work on the largest estuary-restoration project in the Northwest will begin next week in the fields and wetlands of the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge in Washington State.

The $12 million project, about 10 years in the making, will restore 762 acres of saltwater estuary near the mouth of the Nisqually River. It will provide habitat for South Sound chinook salmon, which are listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. Final state and federal permits for the project were obtained Thursday, and work on a new exterior dike much closer to the refuge visitors center will start next week, said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refuge manager Jean Takekawa.

After the new dike is constructed, work will commence next year to dismantle the Brown Farm Dike, which encircles the refuge and serves as a hiking trail for many of the estimated 150,000 visitors to the refuge each year.

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