Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Downriver Dispatches

News of Western Wahkiakum County and Naselle

Today is Monday. Hope you're having a good day when you read this. If you have some news you'd like to share, especially with a photo file attached, do contact me. Contact info is above this article.

Rain and wind are the February realities, right? I know I'm supposed to get out and prune trees, shrubs and roses, but pruning in the cold rain has no appeal to me.

Brookfield: Last evening I pulled out books to read up on Brookfield, one of my favorite places. Carlton Appelo taught me years ago that the little cannery towns along the Columbia were the gems for storytelling and unique people. In Sam McKinney's book, Reach of Tides, Ring of History, he writes, "Brookfield is no more. Of the seven little communities that once stood on this river shore, only two – Altoona and Pillar Rock – still stand. Brookfield is only an abandoned dock. Of the others, Eden, Catardi, Carlson's Landing and Dahlia – nothing can be seen. They are gone forever." I planned on writing about Brookfield for this week's article, then I got into my email and found this message that truly captured for me the essence of why Brookfield had such an impact on me. It's because Brookfield is gone forever. And I'm reminded of how much has disappeared in this area in a comparatively short time.

From Dave Simpson: Hello Karen, Many years ago we interacted briefly when you were writing grant applications and I was an engineer with Coast & Harbor Engineering. Maybe you remember me. Our company had several contracts with Wahkiakum County Public Works through the years. I was looking in The Wahkiakum Eagle because Chuck Beyer let me know of the passing of Jack Tobin, and I saw your name as a columnist. I read your article about names of people who are significant to the building of community and wanted to let you know of my high regard for Jack. He was a kind and perceptive, but reserved, person. He was an effective leader of his department because of his respect for people and his competence based on experience.

I am glad to see you are writing a column and to know you are doing well. You mentioned names I am familiar with. My first project in the county was bank protection on the Upper Grays River at Steve Puddicombe's place back in 1996. I met Irene Martin when I was doing a project as an employee of Portland District Corps of Engineers in the 1980s. I am retired now, but my last project was consulting with Chuck Beyer to design and manage the permitting of sand disposal sites on Puget Island and Cape Horn. I feel a connection to people on Puget Island and like working with Chuck, so I took on the job although I was semi-retired at the time. Working with agencies in the permitting process for that simple project showed me how inefficient and arbitrary that whole mess has become. It cost the people of Wahkiakum County unnecessarily a lot of money, even as I tried to economize as much as possible. Anyway, it is good to see that you're writing now. Congratulations on your previous publications. Dave Simpson at

Dave is one who knows Wahkiakum's challenges with permits and working on needed projects where it seems efforts to help the land owner, as well as the environment, can cause so much frustration. Although the costs of engineers and consultants may seem wasted money, those who hold the purse strings (usually government agencies) expect folks like Dave to be part of the permitting process. It may seem unnecessary to local land owners and taxpayers, but the end result will hopefully bring balance to the environmental health of the area affected by the project. It has to be a partnership for success to happen. And persistence must include the steady insistence that convinces the funders the project is truly needed and not just a quick idea that doesn't address all pieces of the picture clearly.

While the project may address a small area, consequences of any project are the government's responsibility. They must search the project's details and impacts to ascertain the end results of any changes that may impact the Lower Columbia Estuary's health. Dave is right. The time required for meetings, searching for possible funding, then writing grants to fund studies first, is not only challenging, it's become ridiculous.

Also, the Corps of Engineers has so many tasks required of them to grant a permit that it's put layers upon layers on them without the funding to hire the required number of staff to do the review process in a timely manner, so both sides are set up to endure months and months of waiting. Let's say in that waiting period a flood comes along and wipes the whole area out. Then you see even more frustration because the proposed idea might have reduced the flood damage done to both water and land. This is where many in our area resent agencies and funders who require the process.

Lewis and Clark: In the more than 200 years since Lewis and Clark came through our area, humans have greedily consumed the fish, the timber and the land. We have cleared out the marshes and built dikes for farms, reduced the fish runs to nearly nothing, and made our valleys a place for the hearts of those of us lucky enough to live here. It's up to us to take good care of it for the future. I don't want to ever see our valleys "just be gone."

Word for the week: Kindness. Try to carry that word with you today and give it to the people you see. You get back what you give, you know?

CAP Lunches: Lower Columbia Community Action Program, better known as C.A.P., is delivering take out lunches to Rosburg Hall for pickup on Thursdays between noon and about 12:15 p.m. If you should wish to participate in the C.A.P. Lunch Program at anytime please contact Diane Hollenbeck at 360-465-2991. The following meals will be served for the month of March, 2021.

March 4, Spaghetti w/Meatballs, Tossed Salad, Garlic Bread.

March 11, Irish Stew, Heritage Cabbage, Sliced Oranges.

March 18, Chicken Burrito, Spanish Rice, Fiesta Veggies, Sliced Peaches.

March 25, Pork Chops & Gravy, Mashed Potatoes, Dinner Blend Veggies, Sliced Apricots.


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