Commissioners discuss fish recovery issues
Wahkiakum County commissioners handled a variety of business when they met Tuesday.
The board held a public hearing to collect comment on an upgraded watershed management plan for Wahkiakum and Cowlitz counties. The Lower Columbia Fish Recovery Board is leading the update of the plan, which is required by Washington's Watershed Management Act, and which has a goal of enhancing water conditions for salmon populations.
Executive Director Jeff Breckel said the upgrade would have little impact on stream basins in Wahkiakum County. There are adequate sources of water to supply the county's anticipated growth in population, he said.
When first developed, Breckel said, the plan called for restrictions in creating new water rights in the Cowlitz River basin. Local officials objected, saying the restrictions would hamper growth. Planners reviewed water supply and stream flow provisions and concluded that future water supply needs for nearly 80 percent of the river basin should not significantly affect flows needed for fish. They also learned that more water was available than originally identified in the 2006 plan. Consequently, most of the restrictions were lifted, and language was added to the plan to allow easier reopening of the plan for amendment.
As with the 2006 management plan, none of the proposed recommendations would affect or impair any existing water right or rural domestic/permit exempt well, the plan says.
Commissioners took no action on the plan; Breckel said that once public hearings are completed in Lewis and Cowlitz counties, they'll convene a joint session of all boards of commissioners to act on the proposed update.
In other business, commissioners approved a recommendation from Public Works Director Pete Ringen to seek a grant from the Fish Recovery board for puchase of right-of-way property along Elochoman Valley Road at Clear Creek.
Ringen has been planning to replace an outdated culvert and realign the road. The work would require acquisition of a tenth of an acre of property from two landowners. If the grant is approved, the county would pay 5 percent of the purchase price, and the grant would cover the rest of the cost.
The cost of road construction would be covered by funds from the state's County Road Administration Board.
Washington State Patrol District 8 Sergeant Brad Moon introduced a new trooper, Dan Knox, who will be working in Wahkiakum and Pacific counties.
Moon also presented reports showing the patrol's activities in 2013. Troopers made 1,183 stops in the county last year, with most in the Cathlamet area. Troopers also responded to 28 collisions.