Work to resume soon on new refuge dike
After “demobilizing” for the winter, contractors will return this spring to the Julia Butler Hansen White Tailed Deer Refuge to finish the setback dike.
The setback levee is in place but more work needs to be done, according to US Army Corps of Engineers representative, Amy Gibbons. More material is needed to finish the dike, which is made up of an impervious mixture of clay and soil on the river side and a sandier mix on the other. Eventually they plan to place topsoil on the levee and hydro seed to create a natural and grassy finish.
The project will create habitat for fish, birds and other wildlife that will soon reside in the space between what is left of the old dike and the new one. Channels will be excavated for fish habitat during low water. Trees, wetland shrubs and grasses will be planted to create an inviting ecosystem for wildlife.
“When it is ready, Gibbons said, “we will remove sections of the existing levee so the Columbia River and the fish and amphibians and birds can move in and live there.
The Corps hopes to have to project completed this fall, Gibbons said.
“We should be out of the there by next October,” she said, “but still, it depends on the weather.”
Jackie Ferrier of US Fish and Wildlife Services reports that the county and the diking district will have access to the setback dike. Fish and Wildlife are also working with the county to provide access for emergency vehicles.
As for public access, Ferrier said, “We plan to open the setback dike for wildlife-dependent recreation, which includes observation, photography, and environmental education. Both pedestrian and bicycle access will be permitted.”