Island residents seek expanded milfoil eradication


April 14, 2022

As the Wahkiakum County Noxious Weed Control Board prepares to eradicate aquatic weeds in Birnie Slough, Puget Island residents asked Tuesday to expand the planned area for application.

The weed board has targeted Birnie Slough for treatment this summer. Last year, the program went after aquatic weeds in Welcome Slough on Puget Island and at the Elochoman Slough Marina.

However, on Tuesday, former county Commissioner Mike Backman led a group of Island residents in asking that the county consider expanding the area to include waters upstream from Birnie Slough--Jackson Inlet and Net Rack and Cutoff sloughs.

Milfoil and other weeds are choking the waters, the visitors told the board of county commissioners.

“We cannot get out of our boat houses anymore,” one man said.

“We can’t even kayak in the waters,” a woman added.

The county commissioners supported the request.

The noxious weed control board directs the weed eradication program, but the commissioners control program funding.

“It’s a question of finances,” said Commissioner Dan Cothren, adding that the weed program has been underfunded and operated on a piecemeal basis for several years. He said he was concerned that incomplete treatment could foul another area.

“I want to get this done,” he said. “We’re all dedicated to do this. We all agree we can’t let this lapse.”

“It’s not a forgotten piece,” commented Commissioner Lee Tischer. “We know it’s a problem.”

Commission Chair Gene Strong said the issue needs to go to the weed board, and he asked Weed Control Supervisor Andy Lea to develop cost estimates for the expansion.

“It doesn’t make sense to leave that up there because it will just come back down,” he said.

Lea attended the meeting to present a request for commission approval of expanded funding for the Birnie Slough project, which had come in over budget.

“Our budget has been the same for the past three years, just a place holder,” he said.

The project, which involves hiring an applicator who is licensed to treat aquatic weeds, was budgeted at $50,000. The low bid for the project was $55,000. Lea asked that the board appropriate an additional $10,000 to cover the bid price and extras such as permitting and advertising costs, and commissioners voted to approve the request.

In other business Tuesday:

--Commissioners approved proclamations marking 911 Telecommunicators Week and Fair Housing Month.

“I know from being there that they (telecommunicators) get overlooked,” said Undersheriff Gary Howell. “ They don’t get told how much they’re appreciated.”

--Commissioners voted to submit the county’s proposed update of its Shoreline Master Program to the state Department of Ecology for review and possible final approval.

--The board approved a request from Assessor Bill Coons to purchase and install a security door and electric locks in his office.

--The board authorized a call for bids for a new generator for the ferry Oscar B.

--The board approved a contract with a consultant for an update of the county’s Comprehensive Flood Hazard Management Plan, which was last updated in 2000.


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