Bridge project solves flooding issues


August 10, 2023

Diana Zimmerman

Wahkiakum County Engineer Paul Lacy, Columbia Land Trust representatives Simon Apostol, Austin Tomlinson, Ian Sinks, and Wahkiakum County Public Works Director Chuck Beyer met on Monday for an informal transfer of the new bridge on Risk Road, which was built by Columbia Land Trust with funding from Bonneville Power Administration, and will now be maintained by Wahkiakum County.

On Tuesday, Columbia Land Trust transferred responsibility for a new bridge on Risk Road to Wahkiakum County. The bridge was built last year as part of a project by Columbia Land Trust and funded by Bonneville Power Administration to improve habitat and rectify a problem with flooding in the area.

"The bridge is here because we have had a long problem of flooding on Risk Road," Wahkiakum County Engineer Paul Lacy said. "Last winter we didn't have one drop of water go over the road, it went under the road where it was supposed to go."

"It was the first in many years," Columbia Land Trust Stewardship Director Ian Sinks said. "From our standpoint, we saw an opportunity to do habitat but also help solve county infrastructure."

The project also excavated Nelson Creek, which once flowed freely before being filled in and moved to a ditch by people farming the land, and ultimately caused flooding issues in the area.

Now it's free flowing again.

They excavated about a mile and a half of new tributary channels to the Elochoman River, according to Simon Apostol, a natural area supervisor for Columbia Land Trust, and are still busy revegetating the 180 acres, planting 180,000 plants, and dealing with weed issues. Twenty more acres of revegetation and drainage is planned nearby.

"Survival looks pretty good," Apostol said. "Over the next few years we'll see the forest start to grow up out there. From a habitat perspective, this will allow salmon to get up into the upper reaches of Nelson Creek."

According to Sinks, when they do projects involving a county's infrastructure, it includes a one year warranty, and that's why Wahkiakum is now responsible for the bridge's maintenance from here on out.

"We're at the end of that and you're accepting that, that it is built to plan and built adequately and meets all your requirements," Sinks said.

"So now if it breaks we have to fix it," Lacy said.

Wahkiakum County Public Works Director Chuck Beyer was pleased with the outcome.

"It was a great project for the county," he said.


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