PORT TOWNSEND — Shoreline restoration providing easier access to a beach at Fort Townsend and habitat for shorebirds, forage fish and other marine animals is nearly complete.
The $400,000 project, managed by the Northwest Straits Foundation, includes removing about 1,700 cubic yards of large rock and soil, which are being moved out by barge. The remaining small landing will be reshaped.
“The purpose of this project first and foremost was to uncover habitat that had been buried by the fill pad,” said Lisa Kaufman, project manager for the Northwest Straits Foundation. “Also equally important was to improve public access.”
With the new ramp being built to the beach, people who hadn’t been able to previously get down to the beach will now be able to.
Before, people had to climb over rocks to get to the beach.
Northwest Strait Foundation is managing the project and is partnered with Washington State Parks and Jefferson County Marine Resources Committee.
Pacific Pile &Marine is the construction contractor and Herrera Environmental Consultants did the design.
When work finishes — likely on Thursday — the landing will be about one third of the size it was previously.
Dismantling the breakwater was expected to take up to six weeks, but the project is expected to finish early, she said.
Crews began work on the breakwater, which was constructed when the fort was an active installation in the 1850s, three weeks ago.
When work is finished, the fill area will only be about a third of the size as it was previously.
Some of the rocks were moved to protect the new smaller fill area, she said.
“We still have to protect the edges of this fill pad area to keep it from eroding away,” she said.
Sometime in the fall, likely around October, volunteers will plant native vegetation in the area and two interpretive signs will be placed at the location, she said.
There isn’t a date set yet, but there will likely be a ribbon cutting around the same time, she said.
The project was first proposed in 2012. A feasibility study was completed and it was expected to begin in 2014, but the required permits took longer than expected to obtain.
Among permits needed were those from the Army Corps of Engineers, Jefferson County and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The feasibility and design phase was funded by a grant from the Northwest Straits Commission with support from the Puget Sound Partnership, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Estuary Salmon Restoration Program.
Construction, outreach and education were funded by the state departments of Fish and Wildlife and Natural Resources, along with the Puget Sound Marine and Nearshore Grant Program.
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5550, or at [email protected].