March 16, 2017 |

Still no sand, but some opposition

Challenges remain for Wahkiakum County commissioners' plan for a 10-year program to turn four flood control zone districts (FCZD) into dredge spoils sites.

Landowners in the zones need to grant right-of-entry easements so that dredging crews can work along their shorelines. After months of wrangling by attorneys, the easements are ready for property owners, but hurdles remain for the program.

One hurdle is that not all land owners in a zone may want to grant the easements. Commissioners heard from one of these persons on Tuesday.

North Welcome Slough Road resident Steve Sharp said he didn't want to sign the easement because there is no erosion on his property.

Sharp asked commission Chair Blair Brady if a newspaper report quoting him as saying "not signing (the easements) is not an option" was accurate.

Brady said the report was accurate.

"I'm real concerned," Sharp said. "It takes some serious consideration.

"I've written before (to the commission) that I'm against the dredge spoils on North Welcome Slough. We've lived there 30 years, and there have been no erosion problems.

"So, I'm not going to sign a right-of-entry. I'll continue to do so and advise my neighbors to do the same.

"I live on the river and enjoy the view. The sand would block the view.

"I feel for the people who have erosion problems. I'm in favor of moving forward with that.

"I'm not in favor of the assessment you placed on us--it cost me $500."

Commissioners have said they would contact land owners like Sharp who might be opposed to the program and discuss the issues with them.

Commissioners and program proponents are also chaffing on a recently added requirement by the US Army Corps of Engineers that the county conduct an archeological survey of the proposed spoils sites. The sites have previously received dredge spoils, commissioners said, and the study is a new unexpected expense.

"We've got to bring these costs in," said Commissioner Dan Cothren. "We don't have the money, and the Corps keeps asking for more. Right now we are spending a lot of money and not getting anything in return.

"We have to have that as a designated site so we don't have the costs again down the line."

County Public Works Director Chuck Beyer said the newly required archeological study is district wide and a response to a situation that occurred in Seattle.

While working in a previously used industrial site, a construction crew encountered archeological artifacts, and the project was stopped to study the site.

"So after that, they have to do all the studies," said.

Those studies might not be too costly, said Philip Vik, a retired Puget Island farmer whose land has already been designated as a disposal site.

An archeological study done on the site was conducted by "some college students with new boots." They walked over the land, looking at the ground, and were gone in about two hours.

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