Commissioners, residents discuss road/erosion issues


Culverts, roads, boats and finances dominated the business at Tuesday’s meeting of the Wahkiakum County board of commissioners.

During public comment citizens pointed out two long standing issues with roads and offered advice while urging action on the problems.

First, residents of the 600 block of Elochoman Valley reported that ditch can’t handle drainage during heavy rainfall; it floods the road and is eroding property, including underneath a fence and power pole. They said they’ve been told action to remedy the situation has been delayed because of concern by the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildife (WDFW) that the water course is a fish bearing stream.

“No matter what it is, it needs to be maintained,” commented one of the residents.

Second, Salmon Creek Road resident Steve Gacke asked what’s being done to repair the section of road which has one-lane passage where a culvert washed out in last winter’s storms.

He expressed concern that a project to repair the road would result in unsafe or inconvenient detours for residents, loggers, and people heading to fishing, camping and hunting activities.

West Deep River Road appears to be a possible detour, he said, but the road is steep ,twisted and unsuitable for a detour.

There needs to be a bypass at the work site, he said.

The issues are being addressed, County Engineer Paul Lacey replied.

“We’re taking a look at that,” Lacey said about the Elochoman Valley issue. “We’re going to try to see if we can get WDFW to allow us to armor the bank where the water comes across and stop the erosion there, but we just haven’t gotten to it yet. But we’re aware of the problem and we’re taking a look at it.”

The problem has been going on for years, one resident commented.

Commissioner Dan Cothren said officials would raise the issue with WDFW in a meeting later this year.

Commissioners approved a request for qualification from consulting engineers to design three culvert and bridge projects, including the project on Salmon Creek Road. Other projects would be a bridge on East Valley Road over the North Fork of Wilson Creek and on Covered Bridge Road for the King Creek culvert.

The work is design work, Lacey noted, so there wouldn’t be any construction done this year.

However, there will be work on the Elochoman Valley Road this year; commissioners approved a call for bids for paving between Duck Creek Road and the old salmon hatchery.

In other business, Sheriff Mark Howie reported he is applying to buy a surplus patrol boat from a federal agency.

The department’s current boat dates from the 1990’s, he said. The hull is failing, he said, and it recently took on water while it was moored.

If the county is successful in its bid to obtain the boat--federal agencies have first rights to the surplus federal boat--acquisition and equipping would run between $5,000 and $10,000.

Treasurer Tammy Peterson reported county revenue has benefitted from active logging and increasing interest rates on investments.

Officials budgeted an expected $150,000 from the excise tax collected from the harvest of timber on private land; the county received $139,000 during the first six months of the year.

Officials also budget $1.5 million in revenue expected from harvest of timber on county trust lands; so far, revenue totals approximately $1.7 million.

Interest paid on investment earnings has totalled $26,000 during the first half of the year; officials budgeted $15,00 for the year.

The rate of interest on county investments has increased from 0.0911 percent in January to 1.0116 in June, Peterson said; it was 1.208 percent on Monday.


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