Dungeness dike setback awaits feasibility study
By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News
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The east dike that constricts a mile-long stretch of the lower river south of Anderson Road eventually will be moved back in a multi-agency effort to reduce flood risks and improve fish and wildlife habitat.
Exactly where the dike will go has not been decided.
‘A whole process’
“There’s still a whole process that will go on publicly about what we’re going to do,” said project coordinator Hannah Merrill, Clallam County natural resources planner, in a briefing to commissioners Monday.
“I’m trying to keep communication going with the farmers out there and the people that live out there because they’re saying: ‘I see the sign. Does this mean you’ve made the decision?’
“Where the actual setback line is, and how that’s going to progress, has not yet been determined,” Merrill said.
County planners have said the 50-year-old Army Corps dike has constricted the lower Dungeness River and that sediment confined to the narrow channel has caused the riverbed to rise above the surrounding pasture.
Study done in January
The Army Corps feasibility study, which is now a year and a half behind schedule, is slated to be completed in January, Merrill said.
“The feasibility study is where the Corps comes to us and says, ‘Here’s our thoughts of where it goes,” Merrill said.
The dike setback line and dike access will be considered in the design phase.
Merrill described the recreational component as a “huge piece” of the design.
“People are out there all the time walking and taking their dogs and bikes on the levee, and we want to keep those opportunities available,” Merrill told the three commissioners.
Clallam County and its partners have been purchasing wetland and semi-wetland parcels in a 117-acre project tract along Towne Road for the past several years.
Agreement with state
On Tuesday, commissioners unanimously approved a $30,000-maximum interagency agreement with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to purchase another Towne Road parcel.
Earlier this year, the county razed an old house and barn within the footprint of the dike setback project.
Materials from the buildings were salvaged and made available through a local historic barn program.
“Right now, those materials are covered, and they’re out in a field,” Merrill said.
“They’re not in great shape. The barn was in a wetland.”
$5 million project
The estimated cost of the overall project is $5 million. The funding comes from a variety of sources, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, state Recreation and Conservation Office Salmon Recovery Funding Board, U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife, and state Department of Ecology.
In addition to the flood mitigation and restored habitat for salmon and other wildlife, Merrill said the dike setback project is expected to improve the water quality for shellfish in Dungeness Bay.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last modified: October 16. 2013 5:47PM