BNSF Railway Foundation gives $25,000 to help restore Titlow Park lagoon South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group spearheads effort to improve fish habitat

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The BNSF Railway Foundation has donated $25,000 to the nonprofit group that plans to restore Metro Parks’ Titlow Park lagoon as a potential refuge for juvenile salmon.

The South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group (SPSSEG) accepted a check for the donation on Oct. 30 when representatives of the foundation toured the park and lagoon.

“The Titlow Lagoon redesign project is an important opportunity to restore valuable habitat for salmon in Puget Sound. This project also helps enhance a beloved park in Tacoma, providing benefits not only for the environment, but also for the community,” said Zak Andersen, president of the BNSF Railway Foundation. “The BNSF Railway Foundation is proud to support South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group in its efforts to restore critical habitat in Puget Sound as well as provide a space for the entire community to enjoy.”

The BNSF Railway Foundation is the railway’s charitable arm and is dedicated to improve the quality of life in the 28 states where BNSF operates.

The project hinges on the removal of a gated culvert that connects the lagoon to the Tacoma Narrows. The foundation’s contribution will be used to complete preliminary design plans for the lagoon redesign and restoration work.

Eventually, the salmon group aims to replace the culvert with a fish-friendly channel, erect a railroad bridge that spans the gap, and redesign the lagoon to more closely reflect its historic character.

“The recent contribution from the BNSF Foundation represents a significant contribution to the current phase of project development,” said Kristin Williamson, SPSSEG salmon restoration biologist. “The South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group is extremely grateful to the BNSF Foundation as well as the BNSF Railway Company for their support of this important project.”

In addition to the design of an open tidal channel between the lagoon and Puget Sound, the preliminary plan calls for modeling of the water flow. The results will be used in future grading of the lagoon shoreline and improvements to freshwater and tidal wetlands.

The preliminary design work is scheduled for completion in December 2018. The promise of a foundation grant helped Metro Parks and SPSSEG secure an additional $129,000 for the project from the state Department of Fish & Wildlife’s Estuary and Salmon Restoration Program.

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