History: Samish Slough & Shoreline

Slough on Samish

The Samish Slough in 1887 | Samish Slough in 1994 | Slough Proposal 2004 | Shoreline data

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The Slough in 1887

According to Samish oral history, island folklore, and early maps, Samish Island was separated from the mainland by a slough and tidal marsh.

The Slough was actually a salt marsh area between Alice and Padilla Bays, which was filled in during the 1930's by farmers and Skagit County, to construct the present roadway to the island. This action blocked the Samish River outlet to Padilla Bay, forcing the Samish River to go north around the island. Samish Island became a peninsula off the mainland, and that's why we say "no island like Samish island" on our web page and bumper stickers.

It is suspected that closing the slough may have been responsible for increasing erosion on the Padilla Bay side of the island, and increasing silting of the Alice Bay and Samish Bay side, and the disappearance of oysters in Alice Bay..


Samish Slough 1887 Here is an 1887 Navy Map of what the Samish River Slough / Channel looked like then. One could row a small boat through the slough, from Padilla Bay on the west, to Alice Bay on the East.

The Slough in 1994

Samish Slough 1994
Facing west
Samish Slough 1994 facing east
Facing east
Photos of the slough from the Department of Ecology web site.


A Slough Proposal, 2004

Proposed reconstruction

A proposal was made to reopen the channel in 2004, for the health of fishing, shellfish, and marine health in the area.

Since the channel is on private land, and the owner was not interested in selling the affected land, the proposal died.

Many organizations had become interested in this proposal because of the health of the waters in and around Puget Sound. The Skagit County Marine Resources Committee, The People for Puget Sound, The Samish Tribe, and many islanders, supported the proposal.

Samish Island Shoreline data

Samish Island shorelineView the shoreline photographs of the island held at the Department of Ecology.

In 2002, The people of Puget Sound did a Rapid Shoreline Inventory of Samish Island. This study which provided a baseline of data for changes over time to the marine environment of the island.


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