County receives final OK for beach nourishment
May 23, 2019
By Rick Nelson
The US Army Corps of Engineers last week gave final approval to a 10-year permit for placement of dredged sand on eroding beaches on Puget Island and Cape Horn.
As described in a county news release, the purpose of the sand placement program is to protect eroding shorelines through beach nourishment. Most of the shorelines have not been stabilized with dredged sand in over a decade, and erosion has claimed significant frontage and threatened buildings.
This marks the end of the planning and permitting process that has been several years in the making, the release said. The permitting process was officially started with the Corps in 2016, though discussions on the need for bank stabilization and how to fund the project began several years prior to that.
Further, the permitting is now in place; however, that alone is not a guarantee of sand placement on the eroding shorelines. The Corps will only place sand when it is both available and cost effective.
"There has to be sufficient volume out there," Commissioner Dan Cothren said Tuesday. "The people I've talked to feel the volume is there."
"I was on the ferry and saw their survey boats going up and down the river," said county Public Works Director Chuck Beyer. "They're looking at the shoaling."
Cothren added that the dredging would probably start in July at the earliest.
Residents along the eroding shorelines expressed relief and happiness that the permit was finally approved.
"I thank you, Dan, Chuck and other commissioners for staying on top of this," said Charles Lincoln, a Cape Horn resident.
Once the Corps has determined what dredging is needed, they'll contact property owners to let them know project dates and what to expect during the work.
Down the line, Cothren said, the commission wants to get the county's erosion zone control districts rolled into the 20-year channel maintenance program sponsored by the coalition of upriver ports at Kalama, Vancouver and Portland.
That would enable the county to address the situation at the lower end of East Sunny Sands adjacent to the ferry landing which wasn't included in the county's 10-year plan because of concern that sand deposited along Sunny Sands would erode and fill in the ferry channel, creating an unnecessary expense.
"One of the figures I've heard to get that started is 50 grand," Cothren said. "We need to get on the 20-year plan and piggyback with the upriver ports on that."