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6 thoughts on “McNeil Island becoming known for fish and wildlife, not just prison

  1. Thanks as always for the good news, Chris. When you started the section with “The accomplishment goes well beyond appearances. ” I thought you were going to explain the connection between the debris removal and wildlife habitat, but I have to admit I’m still confused.

    I understand how removing creosote logs and restoring natural functions of estuaries would be good for wildlife, but I don’t understand the rest of the debris removal described here. Can’t some underwater and beach debris act as habitat for small fish and animals? I know from diving in the Sound that old wrecks often have the highest concentration of sea life.

    I get that this project makes the beach look more natural, but I worry that it is being done at the expense of wildlife, or at best not really helping wildlife.

    1. Conor,

      I put the question to Monica Shoemaker, a restoration manager for DNR who is quoted in the story above. Here is her response:

      “The project removed shoreline armoring/bulkheads that were blocking the natural processes of the feeder bluff. The debris and armoring can also prevent the natural processes of sediment transport. By removing the debris, these shorelines can now function naturally by allowing the feeder bluffs to move the materials from the bluffs onto the shoreline, and the beach materials can move around naturally without being blocked by various pieces of very large debris. These fine-grain materials from the feeder bluff are the type of sediments that are the preferred habitat for forage fish and migrating salmon.

      “The debris that was along these stretches of shoreline was scattered along large areas. The debris included small tiles, metal and brick all the way up to very large pieces of concrete and metal. These stretches of shoreline were covered in this material. Barnacles were attached to some of this debris, but the debris is covering shoreline that has the potential to become forage fish spawning beds. The debris fields are not the type of materials that forage fish would spawn in. Also, migrating juvenile salmon prefer shallow-water habitat with fine-grained materials and overhanging vegetation. Removing this debris provides better habitat for forage fish as well as migrating salmon.”

  2. This is good news to see McNeil Island is not being left derelict. It is obviously extremely important to ensure that it remains a nurturing marine and wildlife habitat. With this said, the island is an almost natural and untouched gem (on most of it) and I wonder if there are plans to create a park for the public to enjoy and share? It seems that other areas (not south Puget Sound) have similar parks (i.e. Blake Island) and the opportunity to do so on McNeil Island for the south South could be amazing.

  3. I grew up on McNeil island and it was a wonderful place to live. My father worked for the Federal Bureau of Prisons & I lived there from 1959 until 1965. My family continued to live on the island until 1971. I know that there has been a lot of discourse with the state government and also the federal government about the island. I have to ask does it even make financial make sense to house 280 prisoners with 320 employees overseeing them (numbers are estimates only).
    I know this state / federal issue is a political football but why hasn’t the Washington state government granted a petition for McNeil Island becoming a State Park or even a National Park. I have to wonder why one of the most beautiful places on earth is housing the most horrific sexual predators when the American public could be able share and enjoy the island and the views of Mt Rainer and the Olympic Mountain Range from the island. Alcatraz is under the umbrella of the National Park Service and in no way as has as much to offer as McNeil island with it’s diverse beauty and rich history.
    I do applaud the clean up efforts whole heartedly!! Thank you DNR and WDFW for that.

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