McDonald Creek, as seen from Old Olympic Highway on May 22.

McDonald Creek, as seen from Old Olympic Highway on May 22.

McDonald Creek fish passage project expected to begin this summer

Work to improve fish passage in McDonald Creek has moved a step closer to realization.

During Monday’s Board of Clallam County Commission work session, commissioners indicated they would formally invite qualified firms to bid on the McDonald Creek Irrigation and Fish Passage Improvement Project, due to begin sometime this summer.

The commission expects to approve the call for bids at its May 31 regular meeting. Interested contractors will have until Tuesday, June 21, to submit bids.

The project — which is funded entirely by $511,995 in grants from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the state Salmon Recovery Funding Board — is designed to rectify a fish-passage barrier on the creek while improving the Agnew Irrigation District’s ability to divert water for irrigation.

The project is expected to be completed by Oct. 31.

McDonald Creek crosses beneath U.S. Highway 101 and Old Olympic Highway approximately 8.8 miles east of Port Angeles.

Passage

According to Rebecca Mahan, habitat biologist with the Clallam County Department of Community Development, only about 33 percent of adult salmonids (salmon and trout) can pass the current barrier. The improvement project would help alleviate the logjam.

“By doing this (rectifying the fish passage barrier), it would open up 6.1 miles of habitat to ESA (Endangered Species Act)-listed steelhead and also 4.5 miles to coho,” she told commissioners.

Cathy Lear, senior habitat biologist for Community Development, noted the project is not expected to affect transportation on Highway 101.

“Access to the project is off of Highway 101 and is upstream of the bridge that crosses McDonald Creek,” she explained. “So the project shouldn’t affect traffic.”

The scope of the improvement project impressed County Commissioner Randy Johnson.

“It looked like to have that skill level to do all of those different things — some engineering and some other kinds of things — I thought ‘oh my goodness. There probably aren’t a lot of people who are qualified to do this.’”

“There are some,” Mahan replied, “and this is a pretty interesting project. They’re able to improve on the irrigation outtake and improve fish passage at the same time.”

“It’s kind of a win-win,” Johnson said.

In other action Monday:

Commissioners moved to their May 31 regular meeting a resolution authorizing expenditures from the county’s hotel/motel tax fund.

A total of $253,208 received from the consumer fund — which is designed to promote tourism or construction and operation of tourism-related facilities — will go to five county entities.

They are: Lincoln Park BMX Association, $19,570; Peninsula Trails Coalition, $20,000; Port Angeles Waterfront Center, $145,000; Forks Chamber of Commerce, $53,638; and Olympic Peninsula Visitor Bureau, $15,000.

“I would expect we would formally approve recommendations we discussed today,” Commission Chair Mark Ozias said regarding the resolution.

Commissioners also opted to approve for their consent agenda a letter of support for the Master Gardener Foundation of Clallam County.

The foundation is seeking grant funding to help defray the costs of removing 13 hazardous poplar trees from the Woodcock Demonstration Garden.

The goal is to replace non-native species with native trees that are more appropriate for the Woodcock wetland area.

Tree removal is expected to cost $24,600.

Commissioners whole-heartily supported the request.

“I see lots of smiles on faces around the table, so that tells me that all three commissioners will be pleased to sign this letter of support for you,” Ozias said.

________

Paul Dunn at reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].

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