The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Town hall meeting ahead for varied dredging issues


April 13, 2017

Wahkiakum County commissioners will host a town hall meeting next Tuesday, 6 p.m., in their meeting room to discuss issues relating to their efforts to establish a beach nourishment process eroding shorelines.

Erosion is threatening private property at Cape Horn and East Sunny Sands on Puget Island. They are in the midst of finishing the permitting process for their proposed 10-year program; they're negotiating with the last of property owners who are reluctant to sign easements allowing dredging crews to work along their shorelines, and they're reaching out to the association of upriver ports for support in quickly obtaining sand and also adding the county's flood control zone districts (FCZD) to association's own long-standing dedicated dredge spoils sites.

Commissioners Dan Cothren and Mike Backman visited some of the reluctant property owners this week to learn concerns and urge support of the county's program. They need all property owners in a district to sign easements, for the Corps won't authorize a disposal site that doesn't have contiguous ownerships.

Cothren said Tuesday at the board of commissioners meeting that he feels the one reluctant signer on the Cape Horn FCZD will sign, and Cape Horn residents said they had spoken with the party and felt the signature would come.

Backman said he had visited with most of the recluctant parties on East Sunny Sands. "Most are going to sign," he said, adding he'll make more visits this week.

The port association is also pressing the county to approve a shoreline permit so that it can dispose of sand inside the East Sunny Sands dike road on the Philip Vik farm.

Commissioners and Island residents alike have concerns about the latter project. The site was identified in the Corps's channel deepening project. The site is authorized for a layer of sand 35 feet high across the farm.

"People have questions about that," Backman said.

Although the channel deepening plan contained a plan for maintenance of disposal sites, commissioners agree that exact details are important.

"When you put that sand there, we know who's responsible to take care of it, but will it happen," Cothren said.

Before next Tuesday's meeting, regional staff of Senator Maria Cantwell will meet with the Corps of Engineers to talk about the progress of the dredging application and other programs.

Meanwhile, at their meeting this week, commissioners approved a $45,000 transfer from the Current Expense Fund to the Flood Control Fund, which is financing the application process.

Combined with an earlier transfer, that makes a total transfer of $70,000, said county Treasurer Tammy Peterson.

Commissioners hope to repay the transfer with an appropriation from the legislature to compensate the county for encumbered timberlands. Eventually a newly begun assessment of the FCZD will repay the transfers and build a fund for future expenses.


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