County, USFWS plan joint road project
Wahkiakum County and the US Fish and Wildlife Service have agreed to work together to improve the southern end of Steamboat Slough Road.
Jackie Ferrier, manager of the Willapa Wildlife Refuge Complex, proposed that the county support the federal agency in a grant application for funds to upgrade the road.
The grant funds are directed toward projects that improve access to parks and public lands, she said.
"Steamboat Slough Road is in bad shape," said Wahkiakum County Public Works Director Pete Ringen.
The grant, if the application is successful, would fund 86.5 percent of the project; the county and Fish and Wildlife Service would pay the rest. Ringen would do the design work, and the federal agency would handle the permitting.
Commissioner Blair Brady asked if language in the application could be changed where it refers to the top of the setback levee now under construction as the "setback levy trail." Brady said he feared that the word "trail" could lead permitting agencies to reject future county attempts to develop the top of the levee into a road.
After discussion, Ferrier and Ringen said the change could be made, and commissioners voted to support the grant application.
In other business, Sheriff Mark Howie offered a report of crime statistics.
Overall calls have decreased from a high of 1298 in 2011 to 985 in 2013, he said, but the number of mental calls has increased from 17 in 2009 to 47 in 2013.
The number of domestic violence calls decreased from 54 in 2008 to 37 in 2011 but went up to 53 in 2012 and 40 in 2013.
Howie said officers had been injured while responding to calls.
"The danger levels of responding to mental health and domestic violence calls has increased while the staff level has remained low," he said. "That's something to think about."
Howie added that he will have officers, including jailers, receive extra training in dealing with mental health and domestic violence calls.
Regional representatives of US Senators Patty Murray--David Hodges--and Maria Cantwell--Deena Horton--introduced themselves to the board, and Commissioners Dan Cothern and Blair Brady outlined the issues that concerned them.
Cothren said environmental and permitting agencies need to be reined in, and he doesn't support efforts to restrict peoples' right to bear arms.
Brady commented that the process for obtaining environmental permits for projects costs the county "time and money that we don't have. He also commented that the federal government should share with the state in reimbursing counties for trust timberlands that have been encumbered by endangered species habitat restrictions. Transportation is also an issue here and nationwide, Brady said, and federal efforts to expand control over regulation of waters needs to be curtailed.