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Causeway removal meant big jump in juvenile salmon

INDIAN ISLAND, Wash. (AP) — The return of young salmon to the eelgrass beds of the tidelands below Indian Island’s sandstone-stacked bluffs has been swift following the removal of an earthen causeway that opened fish passage.

Even Bill Kalina, the island’s longtime environmental program manager for the Navy, was taken aback by the jump in the number of juvenile salmon since the causeway was replaced with the bridge at the south end of Kilisut Harbor, Kitsap Sun reported.

“We weren’t expecting these results so quickly,” Kalina said. “It happened almost overnight.”

For the past 75 years, the causeway’s two small culverts were the only way saltwater — and the life traveling in it — traversed Oak Bay north to Kilisut. But in 2020, a $12.6 million state project replaced the causeway with a concrete girder bridge.

Only six juvenile salmon were found during seining in the five years before the bridge opened. During this year’s seining, over two days in May, volunteers netted close to 1,000 juvenile salmon.

“The increase was really dramatic,” Kalina said.

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