BRINNON — The state Department of Fish and Wildlife will host a public meeting this week to gather input on a potential 38-acre restoration project in the Duckabush River estuary.
State officials will be at Brinnon School, 46 Schoolhouse Road, at 9:30 a.m. Saturday. They will be looking for public guidance on what to evaluate as they prepare a supplemental impact statement through July 26.
The public can provide input online, by mail or in person. Comments should be succinct and focus on impacts that could affect the environment.
“This estuary restoration project has the potential to greatly improve conditions for multiple species of salmon, including endangered Hood Canal summer chum,” Mendy Harlow, the executive director of the Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group, stated in a press release.
“We look forward to continuing our long-term efforts working with landowners in the Duckabush area to communicate the importance of this project to the Hood Canal ecosystem.”
The project, estimated to cost $90.5 million, would reconnect the Duckabush River to neighboring floodplains and wetlands by modifying local roads and elevating U.S. Highway 101 onto a bridge that spans the area where freshwater from the Duckabush River meets saltwater of Hood Canal.
Congress is expected to appropriate funds for 65 percent of the project cost through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the state Legislature will fund Fish and Wildlife at 35 percent of the project costs through the capital budget, said Seth Ballhorn, a nearshore communications manager for Fish and Wildlife.
The river estuary is impacted by fill, dikes and road infrastructure, including Highway 101, which blocks water channels and limits habitat.
“Healthy estuary and wetland habitats are rare in Puget Sound due to extensive development over the last century,” said Theresa Mitchell, an environmental planner for Fish and Wildlife. “It’s exciting to realize there is this opportunity to restore important habitat in the Duckabush. This project has the potential to provide long-lasting benefits to fish, wildlife and people.”
The Puget Sound Nearshore Estuary Restoration Project selected the Duckabush River estuary as one of three from more than 500 statewide proposals. The other two selections involve the Nooksack River delta and the North Fork Skagit River delta.
Jefferson County Managing Editor Brian McLean can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 6, or at [email protected].