New bridge at Sequim Bay State Park connects Olympic Discovery Trail, restores salmon habitat

Sequim Bay State Park opened a new steel bridge in mid-May 2017. Spanning 210 feet and soaring 50 feet above a restored stream, the bridge replaces a culvert that had been harmful for fish passage. The bridge also connects a critical part of the Olympic Discovery Trail (ODT) — a 120-mile mixed-use, non-motorized recreational trail that extends from Port Townsend to the Pacific Ocean.

The Sequim Bay Bridge was one of 15 fish barriers removed by State Parks in 2016. Last fall, the agency took out the Sequim Bay culvert along with a road, a building and a sewage lift station. Parks then restored the stream to its natural flow, adding woody debris and replanting native vegetation on the banks to improve habitat for fish.

The bridge was installed between February and May 2017. The entire project cost $1.25 million and was funded by a special appropriation from the Legislature to improve salmon migration and spawning conditions.

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Thousands of people use the ODT every year, including park visitors taking shorter walks and rides. For long distance hikers, cyclists and equestrians, Sequim Bay is often the first overnight on their westward journey.

“The bridge makes it a straight shot through the park,” said Sequim Bay Ranger Erik Plunkett. “The grade is flat, the surface is nice and people won’t have to detour.”

Usage is projected to increase as the trail continues to be developed.

While the salmon have not yet come back to Sequim Bay State Park, several parks that participated in the obstruction removal project have seen salmon return to their creeks.