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

Commissioners cover sand, elk, construction and other issues


Wahkiakum County commissioners covered issues ranging from sand to elk when they met on Tuesday.

Puget Island resident Liz Beutler asked for a clarification on the status of easement for dredge spoils deposits on East Sunny Sands, one of the beaches where erosion is threatening structures.

In a meeting last week with Congresswoman Jaime Herrera-Beutler, commissioners learned that a key holdout wasn't as ready to join the program as they had thought, and that could delay beach nourishment, she said.

Public Works Director Chuck Beyer said he is confident the party will sign the easement.

"I have an email from them saying they're ready to sign as soon as they get some information from me that I'm sending them," Beyer said.

Another party on East Sunny Sands doesn't want to sign, he added, but the party is on the downstream end of the zone, and that property and two others won't be included in the nourishment program because of concerns by the US Army Corps Engineers that the deposited sand will erode and fill the nearby ferry channel.

Cape Horn resident Trish Shroyer said that Herrera-Beutler had made an unscheduled visit to that area after visiting the Island last week and was impressed at the erosion there, where the sluffing shoreline is starting to claim outbuildings and trees.

Commissioners approved sending letters to US Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell to invite them to visit the eroding shorelines.

Commissioners approved a request from District Court Judge Heidi Heywood to move her office's two employees to higher pay classes equal to those in the Superior Court Clerk's office.

Heywood had made the request late in the budget process last fall, and commissioners postponed a decision until they saw that the state legislature approved the 2017 Capital Budget, which included an appropriation to compensate the county for the value of trust timber lost to harvest because of endangered species habitat management.

Commissioners also approved a request from Auditor Nicci Bergseng to hire a deputy to fill the staff vacancy created when she was appointed to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of former Auditor Diane Tischer.

Commissioner Dan Cothren reported the state Department of Fish and Wildlife had responded to the board's letter to the Fish and Wildlife Commission asking for a reduction in hunting seasons for deer and elk because of concerns over herd health.

Briefly, the response said that department staff set seasons after tracking hunt results and observing herds from the ground and the air. Their data showed the deer and elk populations in local game management units are sufficient to absorb the hunting pressure.

The response angered Cothren, who feels that the herds have severely declined because of disease.

"I travel 3,000 miles a month over these timberlands," he said, speaking of his employment as forest security director for Hancock Forest Industries. "The elk aren't there.

"They have no clue about how many elk have traditionally been in these valleys.

"They don't listen. I won't let this go."

Commissioners also met with Cathlamet Mayor Dale Jacobson and town Public works Director Duncan Cruickshank and agreed the county and town should work together to plan and finance work along Columbia Street near SR 4.

Cruickshank said a water main leading to Island View Lane is in bad shape and needs to be replaced; he suggested that that work be done before the county starts its project to widen and resurface Columbia Street between Jacobson Road and SR 4.

County Engineer Paul Lacey agreed and felt that the two entities could leverage their funding to make a substantial reduction in engineering and other costs.

Lacy and Cruickshank will continue meeting to develop the project, which will probably take place in 2019.


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