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

Enhancement district seeks dredging of bay


December 5, 2019

Commissioners of the Grays River Habitat Enhancement District have set their sights on a big project: Clearing the channels of Grays River and Deep River across Grays Bay.

They'll have support from the Wahkiakum County board of commissioners.

The bay is filling up with silt and sand which backs up the two rivers and exacerbates flooding in storms, county Commissioner Gene Strong said Tuesday. Local officials also say the dredging program of the US Army Corps of Engineers has piled up sand from Columbia River shipping channel maintenance at the edge of the bay and that blocks the mouth of the two tributaries draining into the bay.

"The bay is pretty well plugged," Strong said. "It's creating a lot of upriver flooding."

The enhancement district has hired a consulting engineer to draft a plan to improve drainage in the bay, said Strong and enhancement district Commissioner Poul Toftemark.

"We need a plan to submit to the Corps," Strong said.

"Everybody agreed it's an issue," Toftemark said, "but there it stops. The Corps admits they're part of the problem, but there's no money.

"They should take care of problems they've created in the river system."

County commissioners said they would support the enhancement district's efforts.

County commission Chair Dan Cothren suggested working with staff of US Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and Congresswoman Jamie Herrera Beutler to address funding issues. County officials have relied on them in their effort to implement beach nourishment at Cape Horn and on Little Island.

"When you have a timeline on the plan, we can schedule a meeting," Strong said.


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