Ennis Creek flows through a pair of culverts near the Port Angeles wastewater treatment plant Wednesday, May 20, 2020. The city is seeking a $191,260 grant to improve fish passage in the creek corridor. (Rob Ollikainen/Peninsula Daily News)

Ennis Creek flows through a pair of culverts near the Port Angeles wastewater treatment plant Wednesday, May 20, 2020. The city is seeking a $191,260 grant to improve fish passage in the creek corridor. (Rob Ollikainen/Peninsula Daily News)

Port Angeles seeks state grant for fish passage

Funds would remove barriers on Ennis Creek

PORT ANGELES — The city of Port Angeles is seeking state funding to design fish passage improvements that could provide salmon habitat along 5.4 miles of Ennis Creek.

The City Council voted unanimously last week to authorize a $191,260 grant application to the state-administered Brian Abbott Fish Barrier Removal Board.

The city would use the grant to design the removal of two side-by-side concrete barriers on the lower creek and a portion of an abandoned combined sewer overflow interceptor main that was installed under the creek in 1969 and is now exposed across the width of the stream.

“Removal of those barriers is pretty significant from an environmental standpoint,” Public Works and Utilities Director Thomas Hunter told the City Council on May 19.

“This grant will provide us 100 percent design for removal of those fish barriers, and we’re really excited about it.”

The existing double-concrete culverts under Ennis Creek Road about half-mile from the mouth of the creek will be replaced with either a bridge, a wide concrete box culvert or an arch culvert, according to the city’s preliminary 2021-26 capital facilities plan.

The 1969 sewer main, which is just downstream from the Olympic Discovery Trail bridge, was taken out of service in September 2016 when the city completed its combined sewer overflow project.

Ennis Creek fish barrier removal is listed as a $950,000 project in the capital facilities plan.

The city project will coincide with a state Department of Transportation effort to replace another culvert for Ennis Creek under U.S. Highway 101, Hunter said.

“I’m excited to be moving forward on what could be the eventual restoration — complete restoration — of Ennis Creek,” Mayor Kate Dexter said in a virtual council meeting last week.

“I think that’s pretty exciting.”

Council member LaTrisha Suggs, a restoration planner for the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, said other groups like the North Olympic Peninsula Lead Entity for Salmon have been working with the state to identify culverts that need to be replaced.

“This just helps in that overall bigger-picture process,” Suggs said.

“So this is just one of those great, fun projects to work on.”

Ennis Creek begins on the upper slopes of Klahhane Ridge and flows about 8.7 miles to the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

The creek supports steelhead, coho, bull trout and cutthroat trout, Hunter said in a memo.

“It is the healthiest of the seven Port Angeles urban streams with the largest undisturbed upper watershed with headwaters in the Olympic National Park,” Hunter said.

“It has the least development, the greatest diversity of existing native fish stocks and the highest potential for restoration and salmon recovery.”

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at [email protected].

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