The landmark Nisqually Estuary Restoration Project is the largest of its kind ever undertaken in the Pacific Northwest. Because the estuary was diked and dammed for more than 100 years, it took a decade of planning and on-the-ground work to restore tidal flow. The end result: the successful reconnection of 762 acres of estuary to the Puget Sound. The project included restoring 37 acres of riparian surge plain habitat and enhancing 240 acres of freshwater wetland habitat. More than 4 miles of dike was removed to allow tides to flood the area, increasing salt marsh habitat in South Puget by 50 percent. Combined with 140 acres previously restored by the Nisqually Indian Tribe, more than 900 acres of the Nisqually estuary have now been restored.

DU engineers, biologist and construction workers spent 18,000 man-hours on the project, which included moving 500,000 cubic yards of dirt and 6,000 cubic yards of riprap. Now, in just a single tide, more than 500 million gallons of water flow through the estuary, creating an unparalleled habitat teeming with waterfowl, fish and other wildlife.

Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge provides abundant opportunities for wildlife-related recreation. Hiking, wildlife observation, environmental education, wildlife photography, fishing and hunting all allow visitors to learn more about the natural world and the importance of places rich in beauty and biological diversity.

Partners: United States Fish Game, Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, Nisqually Indian Tribe, Estuary and Salmon Restoration Program, Washington Dept. of Fish Wildlife, Salmon Recovery Funding Board, Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration, National Fish Wildlife Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Puget Sound Nearshore Partnership, Nisqually River Council, Puget Sound Partnership and Ducks Unlimited