Habitat Restoration Complete at Vigor Shipyard

Photo taken directly after planting, June 2023, approx. -4 MLLW

June 2023 saw completion of a precedent-setting new aquatic habitat restoration project designed to support juvenile salmon migration at Vigor Shipyards (Vigor) on Harbor Island, at the mouth of the Duwamish River. The project is the culmination of 22 years of work by Floyd|Snider and KPFF Consulting Engineers, supporting Vigor (formerly Todd Pacific Shipyards) to remediate legacy upland and sediment contamination and restore habitat. Floyd|Snider worked closely with Vigor to conceptualize this habitat development within the footprint of an old shipway onsite, while avoiding impacts to other operations at the facility.

Sediment cleanup at the site was completed in 2006. Upland cleanup was completed in 2020. In 2017, Vigor began negotiations for a Consent Decree with the Natural Resource Trustees, including federal and state regulatory agencies, the Muckleshoot Tribe, and the Suquamish Indian Tribe. This Consent Decree was initiated to settle Natural Resource Damage claims tied to historical releases of contamination to Elliott Bay and the Lower Duwamish River from the Vigor-owned property, former home of WWI and WWII shipbuilding, and Exxon-Mobil tank farms.

The habitat construction project involved demolition of upland and overwater shipyard infrastructure, including removal and disposal of over 6,000 creosote-treated piling, contaminated soils, and sediments. Following the demolition, over 50,000 cubic yards of clean sediments and soils were excavated and beneficially reused to create new off-channel intertidal and marsh aquatic habitat, fringed by new riparian trees and shrubs, with a perimeter berm to protect the habitat from Puget Sound wave action and tie-up locations for tribal fishing. The project also included shipyard infrastructure upgrades for facility access, drydock moorage, and stormwater treatment.

Floyd|Snider led design, permitting, and construction oversight for the project, in partnership with KPFF Consulting Engineers, J.A. Brennan Associates, and PanGeo, and the team will continue to support Vigor in habitat maintenance and stewardship. Kate Snider, Amanda McKay, Erin Murray, and Adia Jumper filled key roles for Floyd|Snider. “I see this project as a ‘capstone’ project of my career,” said Floyd|Snider Founding Principal Kate Snider, PE. “I have loved working with Vigor Shipyards, our exceptional consulting team, and an incredibly skilled and thoughtful construction team led by Orion Marine Construction to bring this project to completion. The project is extraordinarily important to the Duwamish River ecosystem, and I hope it will be a strong precedent for other urban industrial estuaries.”

Click here to learn more about this project.  The project was also recently featured by NOAA’s Damage Assessment, Remediation, and Restoration Program here.