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Dockton Bulkhead Removal Project

Dockton Bulkhead Removal Project

Vashon-Maury Island

Construction was completed August 20, 2020 Visit our construction notice for details.

The Dockton Bulkhead Removal Project is a habitat restoration project to remove 225 feet of concrete bulkhead at Dockton Park. Removing the bulkhead will restore natural shoreline conditions and forage fish spawning habitat.

Project location

The Dockton bulkhead is located within Dockton Park on Maury Island along the eastern shoreline of Quartermaster Harbor. The King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks (DNRP) owns the property and operates the park. (This is project is different from the Dockton Dock Repair Project being done by King County Parks.) 

Location map: Dockton Bulkhead Removal Project
Project location - click to open PDF version

Project benefits

Removal of the bulkhead will improve shoreline habitat by allowing for movement and supply of sediment, invertebrates, leaf litter, and wood. Restoration of natural beach processes will result in improved quality of the beach at the site for forage fish spawning, increased food production for fish and reduced predation risk due to increased cover and shallow water refuge areas.

Plan concept: Dockton Bulkhead Removal Project
Plan concept

Pre-project conditions

Former Dockton bulkhead
This section of bulkhead at Dockton Park was removed.

The project site is owned by King County and is within Dockton Park. The 23-acre Dockton Park contains a boat launch and moorage, a dock, an interpretive trail, hiking trails, a picnic shelter, restrooms, and parking. Most of the shoreline in the park has a bulkhead.

The 225-foot-long bulkhead being considered for removal extends northeast from the boat dock. The bulkhead is constructed from concrete and is approximately 6 feet tall and 13.5 inches thick, and  its primary purpose was likely for erosion control. Behind the shoreline armoring is a steep, forested slope.

The existing bulkhead in this area has the potential to degrade fish habitat through:

  • direct loss of fish spawning habitat,
  • loss of shoreline plants and trees,
  • loss of sediment supply which degrades the quality of beach for forage fish spawning
  • loss of beach wood and organic matter,
  • less prey to eat, and
  • increased risk of fish being eaten by larger fish.

Project timeline

King County held a public meeting on Vashon Island on Nov. 12, 2019 for people to learn about the project.  Project construction was completed in August 2020. A small area will be replanted in late 2020 or early 2021.

Project background

The habitat needed for salmonid rearing has been substantially reduced as a result of landscape and river changes, such as the construction of dams and levees to contain rivers and the installation of bulkheads along marine shorelines. Juvenile salmon from all around Puget Sound use Vashon Island’s shoreline for feeding and retreating from deep water predators.

The WRIA 9 Salmon Habitat Plan  (2005) prioritized the need for natural shoreline habitats on Vashon-Maury Island. This project builds off the neighboring shoreline restoration effort completed in Dockton Park in 2013 and other restoration efforts to improve habitat within the Maury Island Aquatic Reserve.

The young salmon will feed on small fish that spawn on Vashon’s beaches as well as insects that fall from the trees into the shallow water. This project will restore the shoreline and associated beach habitat.

Finished project

Dockton Park Shoreline after bulkhead was removed
The shoreline at Dockton Park after bulkhead removal. Trees initially on the beach or felled during the project were left in the intertidal area to provide fish habitat.

Project funding

This project is supported by funding from the Estuary and Salmon Restoration Program, Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration Fund, Conservation Futures, and King County.

Project documents

Project Permit Plan (4.7 MB)

Determination of Non-Significance (1 MB)

Environmental Checklist (9 MB)

More information

To learn more about the benefits of a natural shoreline, and alternatives to bulkheads, check out Your Marine Waterfront: A guide to protecting your property while promoting healthy shorelines .

For more information about the Dockton Bulkhead Removal Project, please contact Jo Wilhelm, Project Manager, King County Rural and Regional Services or Greg Rabourn, Vashon Island Steward.