By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News
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Jesse Waknitz, the port's environmental technician, relayed four options to port commissioners for the decaying leftovers of what once was Clallam County's main shipping outlet.
The port commissioners, who usually have their meetins in Port Angeles, met Monday at John Wayne Marina on Sequim Bay.
The state Department of Fish and Wildlife and the North Olympic Salmon Coalition want the pier pilings removed to restore critical habitat, including a particularly lush stand of eelgrass, Waknitz said.
Waknitz met with those groups earlier this year.
He told commissioners the pier could be removed by state agencies.
That option would save the port removal costs, but it also would cost the port the opportunity to claim credits to mitigate future waterfront development.
“Those credits could be critical in helping our long-term development,” port Executive Director Jeff Robb said.
Once a shipping hub, the dock was rendered useless after a 1914 fire that wiped out the old town of Dungeness, according to historian Virginia Keeting's Dungeness: the Lure of the River.
The pier was purchased by the port in 1925.
Robb told commissioners that the port is planning to have a survey of the pier and shoreline to determine what land the port actually owns.
“That shoreline has moved a lot,” Commissioner Paul McHugh of Sequim said.
McHugh questioned if the port could apply credit from removing the decaying pilings to projects in Port Angeles or Sequim Bay.
Waknitz said the port might not be able to do so, but Robb said the Port of Tacoma had banked mitigation credits from an environmental cleanup in its jurisdiction.
Commissioner John Calhoun noted the port has no plans to develop at Dungeness.
Commission President Jim Hallett asked if the port could have the pilings removed just to improve the bay.
McHugh wondered how much damage the pilings are currently doing to the bay, noting that most of the creosote in the logs would likely already have leached into the water and the silt.
A meeting is planned for June, Waknitz said, with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the salmon coalition to find out more about the mitigation credit and possible cost of removing the pilings.
Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at email@example.com.