Wahkiakum County and Diking District 4 are a step closer to approving a plan to address the possible breach of Steamboat Slough Dike.
The Columbia River is eroding the dike, a breach would allow flooding of the 2,000 acres of the Julia Butler Hansen National Wildlife Refuge.
On Friday, officials from the county, diking district, US Army Corps of Engineers, and US Fish and Wildlife Service met to go over the plan and iron out differences.
None of the parties have funding to armor the shoreline and stop the erosion.
The Corps proposes using salmon habitat funding to build a new dike set back from the eroding shoreline and to breach the dike in 1-3 places to create 70-80 acres of wetlands habitat for juvenile salmon.
County commissioners asked that the setback dike be constructed so that the county could have a graveled road on top and that the Fish and Wildlife Service guarantee county access to the dike.
Corps officials said they have designed a smaller dike to stay within their funding, and Fish and Wildlife Service personnel said they couldn't guarantee access without going through a long process.
The officials said they try to accommodate the county's wishes.
Diking District Commissioner Maurice Mooers gave grudging approval to the plan, saying it would be better than nothing in the event of a breach.
Commissioners said they would vote on the plan at their February 5 meeting.
Photo: Officials from the local and federal agencies inspect eroding Steamboat Slough Dike. Photo by Rick Nelson.