Northwest Indian College Students help restore salmon habitat at Qwuloolt Marsh

On a sunny afternoon in October students and faculty from Northwest Indian College joined Tulalip Restoration Ecologist Josh Meidav to restore salmon habitat at the Qwuloolt Estuary site near Ebey Slough.  The word “Qwuloolt” means “Marsh” in the Lushootseed language and the Qwuloolt restoration project is part of a larger effort to restore salmon populations in the Snohomish River.

According to Kurt Nelson of the Tulalip Tribes and Josh Fitzpatrick of Army Corps of Engineers, the project is one of “the largest estuarine habitats to be restored in Puget Sound (second only to the Nisqually Delta)”   The project site includes 360 acres of a historic intertidal marsh ecosystem, currently vacant farm land.  According to Meidav, once completed, the project will allow juvenile salmon to make the transition from fresh water to saltwater more easily.  

With the help of volunteers like those from Northwest Indian College, the Tulalip Tribes and other project partners will coordinate the planting of over 10 acres of native plants.   As a part of their service learning field trip, students from Northwest Indian College got a chance to visit the project site at Harborview Park in Marysville.  Shortly after arriving everyone got their hands dirty, each getting a chance to plant a different species of tree or shrub native to the estuary ecosystem. 

According to Ben Lubbers, faculty instructor at the Northwest Indian College, these types of service learning activities are designed to help students develop a better understanding and connection to their community and culture.  “The Qwuloolt Estuary is a project of regional significance and it’s important for the younger generation to learn what the Tulalip Tribes are doing to improve the environment” said Lubbers.

During the field trip students also have an opportunity to explore career options and make connections with local professionals.  Currently Northwest Indian College in Tulalip offers an Associates Degree in Native Environmental Studies and provides students with an opportunity to gain additional knowledge and skills in that field.

“This project is a great thing for our environment” said Nick Brown a first year student at Northwest Indian College. “The plants and tree’s we planted are going to provide home for birds and other animals.  Maybe the cedar tree I planted will provide a home for an eagle someday.”

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For more information contact:
Renee Roman Nose – Site Manager – Northwest Indian College – phone: 360-631-3441
Ben Lubbers – Faculty Instructor – Northwest Indian College: cell phone: 425-870-0379
Northwest Indian College website: http://www.nwic.edu/group/tulalip
Kurt Nelson – Tulalip Natural Resources Department -  phone: (360) 716-4671
Josh Meidav – Tulalip Natural Resources Department –  cell phone: 206-552-5348
Qwuloolt Estuary Project website: http://www.tulalip.nsn.us/qwuloolt/index.html