Local, National and even International Scientists confirmed the necessity of three major elements:  widening the mouth of the estuary by replacing the 50' tide-constricting bridge with a much longer one; restoring the fresh water flow into the estuary on the north which had decreased over the years dramatically creating a 6' high blockage to fish passage; and densely re-establishing native plants along the shorelines to minimize sediment depositing on the estuary bed.

The bridge replacement would have to wait for Federal Highway funds, but work began immediately on the salmon ladder and planting of native trees and shrubs.

Working along the shorelines, researchers observe sediment deposits, tiny marine life, collect, count and catalog type of fish smolt, tidal currents, seaweeds, contamination type, and consider remediation and enhancement techniques. 

Mycoremediation Mushroom mycelium filtering



Within this magnificent 100 acre classroom we find nearly limitless on-going examples of the island's most important environmental systems, studied through enjoyable, rewarding, educational experiences for all ages.

Mycoremediation, a phrase coined by Paul Stamets, is a form of bioremediation, the process of using fungi to degrade or sequester contaminants in the environment. Here we inoculate alder wood chips with spores, keeping them moist and warm.  In a short time, mycelium are densely growing, forming their natural "web", which will act as an extremely effective filtering and capturing mechanism to break down toxins into harmless elements removing the contaminants from the soil and water flowing into the estuary.

Certainly one of San Juan County's most diverse wildlife habitats, these 140 acres contain: a renowned freshwater marsh, a large vibrant estuary, streams, ponds, forests, meadows, uplands and farmland.  Our decades long study and research of the estuary and surrounding riparian land has yielded a plethora of vital information, and resulted in countless hours of restoration and enhancement.  Students from elementary grades through university and post-graduate studies, marine and environmental scientists, biologists, hydrogeologists, botanists, local, state and federal employees, and national and  international experts have contributed to the vast research and education that has gone into all aspects of the Deer Harbor Stewardship Project over decades.

Working from one of the University of Washington's research boat under the tutelage of Russel Barsh, renown scientist and founder of Kwiaht yound students from Orcas Island examine the "bounty" brought up by nets to be catalogued classified, and examined for establishing a baseline of nearshore saltwater tidal areas.