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Making a home for spawning sand lance at Barlow Bay

From left to right; rock from failing road protection buries spawning habitat, rocks removed from the upper beach, refilling gaps in the rock wall and a post-project view of the fish spawning habitat zone. - Contributed photos
From left to right; rock from failing road protection buries spawning habitat, rocks removed from the upper beach, refilling gaps in the rock wall and a post-project view of the fish spawning habitat zone.
— image credit: Contributed photos

The Friends of the San Juans last week helped to enhance habitat for spawning forage fish along the beach at Barlow Bay, at the south end of Lopez Island.

Boulders used for road protection projects had fallen onto the middle and upper portions of the beach over the years, degrading habitat at one of only nine known Pacific sand lance spawning sites in San Juan County. Sand lance, which lay their eggs on sandy upper beaches, are a key food item for various fish, seabirds, and marine mammals.

“The Friends of the San Juans’ habitat restoration project was a win win for everyone,” said San Olson, a Friends of San Juans’ board member and neighborhood resident.

“While the primary objective was to enhance critical spawning habitat and support marine food webs, we were also able to use the rocks removed from the beach to fill gaps and improve protection along the road.”

San Juan County Public Works, Barlow Bay shoreline property owners and the Salmon Point Community provided support for the restoration project, and the Washington State Salmon Recovery Board provided funding.

For more info, www.sanjuans.org.

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