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Tide returns to Marysville wetlands for first time in decades

The tides return to the Marysville wetlands. (Chris Sullivan, KIRO Radio)

You’ve probably noticed all the trees missing along I-5 in Marysville. The state has been restoring wetlands in the area.

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And drivers likely noticed a huge difference this week along I-5 and Highway 529 in Marysville as the tides returned. Workers recently breached the dike on the north end of Steamboat Slough to allow water back into the area for the first time in decades.

“We had trees there for the last 70 years, and now you go by there you’re going to see dry land sometimes and sometimes you’ll see the estuary filled with water from the tides,” Washington Department of Transportation’s Tom Pearce said.

WSDOT removing trees to restore marshland in Marysville

The state decided to reclaim about 12-and-a-half acres of wetlands in that area because they will be taking about two-and-a-half acres in two years, as they rebuild the I-5/529 interchange.

“By doing this project now, we’re creating this wetland, and it will be in use for a couple of years before we do impact the other wetlands,” Pearce said.

The state left a bunch of the trees and root balls they cut in the area to provide a more natural feel to the wetlands, providing safe places for juvenile fish to hang out.

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“When salmon come down the river, they’re very small and they’re not very strong,” Pearce said. “This wetland is going to give them a place to go in and grow. It’s like a nursery for them while they can get stronger before they head out to sea.”

This is the precursor work to a new I-5/529 interchange in Marysville. It will start construction in 2021, and provide a much-needed alternative to the single Marysville exit at 528. This will also happen at the same time the new HOV lane is being added northbound from Everett.

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