Lower Dungeness River levee project open house scheduled

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County will host an open house for the lower Dungeness River levee setback project Tuesday, Nov. 29.

The community event will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Dungeness Schoolhouse, 2781 Towne Road, north of Sequim.

The long-planned restoration effort will connect the lower Dungeness River with 112 acres of its historic floodplain by moving back a 0.8-mile section of the east dike between the schoolhouse and the Dungeness Valley Creamery. Towne Road will be realigned as part of the project.

Clallam County officials have said the project will decrease flood risk and improve fish and wildlife habitat, river function and water quality in the lower river and Dungeness Bay.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ levee, which was built in the 1960s, has constricted the lower Dungeness River and raised the level of the river bed, officials have said.

In advance of the levee setback, Clallam County has purchased property from landowners, removed buildings and other infrastructure, managed vegetation and reestablished the floodplain and wetland.

A study to reconnect the historic floodplain is complete and an Army Corps project report and environmental assessment is awaiting signature, county officials said.

The next steps are the design for the setback levee and Towne Road reconfiguration.

Construction is scheduled for 2017 and 2018.

Clallam County is leading the design and construction phases of the project. Its partners include landowners, state, federal and local agencies, and the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe.

Setback of the lower Dungeness River levee has been identified as a high priority in the Puget Sound Salmon Recovery Plan since the late 1990s, county Habitat Biologist Cathy Lear said.

Lower Dungeness River restoration has also been a priority of the Jamestown S’Kallam Tribe, Clallam County, Dungeness River Management Team, North Olympic Peninsula Lead Entity, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the state departments of Fish and Wildlife, Transportation and Ecology, officials said.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

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