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

Commissioners' patience growing short for easements


There's good news and not so good news for the Wahkiakum County board of commissioners efforts to set up a beach nourishment program for eroding shorelines at Cape Horn and on Puget Island.

Acting as commissioners for the area's four flood control zone districts (FCZD), commissioners have been trying to collect right-of-entry easements from property owners that give dredging crews permission to work along their shorelines.

The US Army Corps of Engineers, which engineers the dredging programs and spoils sites, wants to have entry easements for a district's entire shoreline, and commissioners have had some property owners holding out.

On Tuesday, Commissioner Dan Cothren announced a bit of good news: The single holdout on the Cape Horn FCZD has agreed to sign an easement.

The announcement drew applause from Cape Horn residents attending the commissioners' Tuesday meeting.

Cothren acknowledged the role of Cape Horn residents in changing the mind of the reluctant signer.

"I think you were instrumental in it," he said. "You folks did it. I'm glad it worked out for everybody."

However, there are about eight reluctant signers in the Island FCZD's, officials said.

Cothren said Corps personnel have told him there's a possibilty the East Sunny Sands beach could get dredged sand this year, if the easements are signed.

"I'm to the point right now where I'm for moving ahead; there is an opportunity to get some sand," Cothren said.

"We've got to get those rights-of-entries. It's been long enough for those folks on the Island to make the decision whether they're going to sign it, and I'm for moving ahead with the process we have to do to get where we need to be.

"It's not a take-away. It's basically improving your property."

That process, which commissioners have been loath to discuss, is exercising their power of eminent domain.

'"I've asked our attorney to look into what options are available for us," said board Chair Blair Brady, "be it eminent domain or other avenue to gain access to increase their property, not decrease their value.

"It's not the direction we prefer to go, but sometimes we have to do things we don't particularly care for."

In reference to the dredging issue that has troubled the commission, the shoreline permit application from the coalition of upriver ports to gain access to a disposal site on farm land inside the East Sunny Sands dike road, Brady said there had been a development.

Commissioners have delayed action on the permit, saying they don't want to approve it until they have assurance that sand will go on the eroding shoreline before it goes inland.

"As I have stated, probably a couple months ago," Brady said, "that at some point we'll probably get sued, we did receive some paperwork from the ports that was probably heavy handed and I've given that to our attorney to review and look at.

Brady added that one concern people have expressed about the inland site is that sand would be piled 25 feet high. He pointed out that the actual height would probably be 8-12 feet above the level of the road, that it would be level with the road and only start tapering up once it was 600 feet back from the road.

"I don't see that as an issue, to be honest with you," Brady said, "but there are folks who are concerned about it, and we're looking at their concerns."


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