Eroded channel needs fill, residents say
February 3, 2022
Wahkiakum County officials discussed further response to flood damage in East Valley and addressed other topics when the board of commissioners met Tuesday.
In early January, heavy rain and melting snow sent a deluge down a Wilson Creek tributary, with logs and woody debris forming a jam that diverted the creek along, over and through the road and cutting a new channel very close to the residence of Marshall and Martin Snow.
Since then, the county and a contractor have restored the stream to its original channel, but the streambed created by the diversion still remains.
Marshall Stowe brought the matter to the attention of the county commission and asked what could be done to fill the eroded channel, which is about 155 feet long, 10 feet deep and eight feet across. [In earlier publication of this article; Marshall Stowe was misidentified. His name has been corrected here. --ed.]
"How do we fill this thing?" he asked. "That's a whole lot of dirt that's needed. We don't know how to solve this."
County Public Works Director Chuck Beyer said some fill may be available from the road department as crews enlarge the stream crossing under the road and also from overburden the crews collect where earth has slid onto county roads.
The culvert under the road will be replaced with a bridge, Beyer said, an upgrade to improve passage for anadromous fish. That project should produce fill that could be used to fill the eroded channel, but permits would be needed for that.
"We can't just dump stuff anywhere," he said.
Stowe said he would look into the permitting, and board Chair Gene Strong suggested county officials work with Snow to see if there might be disaster response funding for the Snows.
In other business, commissioners also approved a contract with the Wahkiakum Animal Advocates Group (WAAGS) for animal related services, which may include temporary custody and care of animals due to owner's arrest, injury or death. A $2,500 expenditure for 2022 service was included in this year's county budget.
Strong, chair of the commission, listed issues he felt the board needs to address this year. These include:
--Adjusting compensation for commissioners, something that hasn't been done for several years. Any increase in commissioners' salaries wouldn't take effect while a commissioner is serving a current term; the increase would become effective at the start of a new term.
--Working on the county's comprehensive plan and finishing an update of the county's shoreline master program.
--Updating the lease for the county-owned building housing the Family Practice Clinic in Cathlamet.
--Settling the future of the Johnson House adjacent to the courthouse. For several years, the Health and Human Services Department housed programs in the house, but it is now surplus to county needs.