Keeping an eye on Snohomish County government

Is PSNERP “Restoration” Site an Army Corps Make-Work Project?

PSNERP is a large Army Corps of Engineers initiative for the Puget Sound region, comprising eleven “restoration” projects in six Washington State Counties, including Snohomish and Skagit. (Visit the project overview page.)
Curiously, one of these sites was recently diked by the Corps at a cost of $3.5 million, but is now on the Corps PSNERP list to tear down those same dikes, for “restoration.”
Why? According to the Corps, it was all planned that way from the beginning.
Rone Brewer, a member of the Washington Water Fowl Association, tells us:
Farmed Island is in Skagit County at the mouth of the South Fork of the Skagit River near Conway.  The original fish restoration project (named Deepwater Slough) was completed in 2003 and included a 6 year public participation process that developed 11 alternatives and one of the alternatives was selected through the public process.  The selected alternative/project moved dikes back, preserving about 95% (200 acres) of the farmed land for waterfowl management and public access, while restoring about 200 acres of formerly diked land to intertidal conditions.  After the project was completed, a contract was signed between WDFW [WA Fish and Wildlife] and the Corps of Engineers.  On the face of the contract it says the dikes shall be maintained in perpetuity.  But, within a few months of completion of the first Deepwater Slough/Farmed Island project, it appears the same land that was just preserved behind brand new dikes at a cost of about $3,500,000 was nominated as a potential project under the PSNERP process.  And in the current PSNERP project listings Deepwater Slough II is discussed as a “continuation” of the original project.  This is utter hogwash…we did not negotiate and select a project and spend $3,500,000 so the project could be dismantled 12 years later.
The intertidal conditions Rone refers to here, are popularly believed to benefit salmon, although they’ve never been shown to successfully improve salmon runs. Sadly, it appears some folks at the Corps of Engineers, Fish and Wildlife, and other restoration organizations, have been planning all along to tear down the newly created Farmed Island dikes in favor of salmon.
(Submit your comments about PSNERP to the Army Corps of Engineers, by email at Nearshore@usace.army.mil, or mail (must be postmarked by Jan. 8, 2015.)

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