Proposal to Spend $4.2 Million to Design and Install ‘88’ Logjams Along Nooksack River Moves Forward

On July 30th, 2013, the Water Resource Inventory Area 1 – Management Team held their meeting at the Civic Center Annex Building, the Garden Room, in downtown Bellingham, from 9:30am – 11:30am.COB_Bldg

For the purposes of this informational posting I ask that you look over the meeting documents and absorb the depth to which local Whatcom County lands and water issues are sucking away a lot of tax dollars for funding, and public employee energy and staff time, now and for what looks to be far into the future.  This is not just a Whatcom County issue.  This type of activity is happening across the State of Washington and is one of the chief drivers of uncertainty for growth and development in our state, as it pertains to water allocation, water rights and the security of individual property owners.  This issue is especially concerning for the future retention and growth of farming in the State of Washington.

In summation of this meeting it appears that the Salmon Recovery Funding Board and the Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration programs have recommended and received approval to move forward and spend (over the next two to three years) approximately $4.177 million dollars. The costs of these proposed projects breakdown to $3.357 million in Puget Sound Partnership grant funding (of which there is only $3.134 million available) and $820k in local matching funds to come from a combination of COB or Whatcom County (???).  The funds will be used to purchase targeted properties along the South and North Nooksack River banks for the purpose of installing up to eighty-eight log jams.  The SRFB and PSAR proposal to purchase these properties and install the log jams would in theory create calmer, cooler waters in strategic areas of the Nooksack River that could encourage and improve spawning of early Chinook salmonid’s.  This program has been given a 50 year goal to see fruition of these efforts.  Missing from the discussion is where these manmade attempts have been tried and succeeded in the past, how often the river changes course of its own volition and how the project will be monitored for success or risks, due to debris accumulation and the potential for flood damage to properties that run below these manmade log jams.

We’ve reported…now you decide if there’s enough accountability.

~ Kris Halterman and Greg Brown

(The minutes below were provided by Greg Brown of Ferndale, WA.)

AgendaProject InfoSummary/CostsAlliance Initiative 2014

WRIA 1 Management Team Meeting – July 30, 2013 9:30am – 11:30amChinook_image

The meeting started at 9:45am as there were obviously only a few present and many were talking in groups prior to the meeting

Attendees:

  • 7 originally at the table w/Jon Hutchings Chairing the meeting and Becky Pederson as the facilitator
  • 1 added from the Lummi tribe
  • 6 originally in the audience
  • 1 added from the WLT (Eric ?)
  • 1 added from the COB (Clair Fogelsong)
  • 2 Whatcom County Private Citizens originally in the audience.
  • 1 added
  • Total of 19 by the end of the meeting

Public Comment:

I asked Jon Hutchings and Becky Peterson, if they could provide me with a list of the “community members” listed as part of the WRIA 1 Combined Review Team (CRT) as listed on the attachment for Agenda Item #3.

Response from Becky was that they would provide the names during the presentation later in the meeting.

Agenda Item #3 – Habitat Project List for Salmon Recovery Funding Board (SRFB)

Becky had a PowerPoint presentation (attached)

She went over the history of events leading up to this meeting where the Management Team needs to make the decision to approve or disapprove of the work by the CRT to list the projects for the SRFB and Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration (PSAR) funding.

Becky went over the need to move ahead based on the August 9th date deadline for project submittal to the regional organization Puget Sound Partnership (PSP), and the August 16th 2013, deadline for submittal through the Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) for SRFB.

Becky reviewed the 6 proposals for funding.

Pointed out during this presentation was that for the 5th item, there are actually two separate land acquisitions being requested. One was very good and the second was marginal. The CRT requested that the Management Team add language that would enable them to use a different piece of land for the second piece should a better parcel become available.

Pointed out that there were not enough funds to cover the total request for the 6th item, but it would remain on the list just in case some other funding might come and or it would remain on the list for next year.

There were several interesting items brought up:

  • The Representative from the Lummi tribe made these good points:
    • At some point this money is going to run out
    • This money needs to be spent wisely
    • How do we know if our previous choices and these choices are the best as some of the previous work is now high and dry
    • How do we monitor the work that has already been done?

Jon Hutchings mirrored these statements and the question was echoed by others that there is never any money left over (or planned) for monitoring so that has to be picked up by the County or, Who ?

It was pointed out that the primary way or method of the salmon recovery is the use of engineered log jams. I think its best to mention here that the Department of Ecology currently sends out letters of demand to private property owners that they must remove obstructions from any streams, creeks or rivers, that run through their property (even those that have occurred naturally, or put there by local wildlife such as beavers) and pay for the removal of the obstruction at their own cost.

The Management Team went over the project as I totaled the number of log jams proposed :

  • 43 log jams – Phase 1 of the 6 Phase North Fork Farmhouse Reach Restoration
  • 26 log jams – South Fork Larson’s Reach Phase 2 Instream Restoration
  • 6 log jams – South Fork Black Slough Reach Restoration
  • ? log jams (required but no #) – South Fork Skookum-Edfro Instream Design
  • 13 log jams – South Fork Camp 18 Design
  • 88 total logjams

Members of the Combined Review Team (CRT):

The CRT made up of Combined Community Organization (CCO)  or Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) and Technical Advisory Committee (TAC)

  • Citizen at Large Members (2)
    • Bob Barker – South Fork property owner. Replacing Rob
    • Dave Fagen(?) – Not sure where he lives. History if involvement in NC and Restoration projects for a long time and a member of CRT for a number of years.
  • Flood Control Zone Advisory Committee
    • Lars (Rod) Vanderhoff
  • Lummi Tribe
    • Allan Chapman, but the input for the CRT is from their Natural Resource Dept.
  • Nooksack Tribe
    • Chiva? but the input for the CRT is from their Natural Resource Dept.
  • NESA
    • Blyth Emerson, Board Member of NESA and river restoration engineer
  • US Forest Service
    • Jeremy Gilman
  • WA Dept. of Fish & Wildlife
    • Brandon Broach (new) and Bob Warner work together
  • WA Dept. of Natural Recourses
    • Shannon Clark
  • WWU
    • Professor James Pelciel (?) Biologist
  • Whatcom Conservation District
    • Emily Kirsh (CREP Program)
  • Whatcom County
    • John Thompson
  • Whatcom Land Trust
    • Board Member (?) who had a family problem and delegated to Staff Nick Bellings (?)
  • WSU Cooperative Extension/Sea Grant
    • Sue Blake

By consensus the Management Team approved the recommendations from the CRT. I am not sure if it included the language for the possible substitution for the second parcel of land on the South Fork Reach Acquisition.

Other items:

  • RFQ went out Wednesday for Planning Unit Facilitator
  • Joint Board wants to meet more frequently
  • LIO Regional STAFF meeting is on August 29 in Edmonds, not time or place given
  • Whatcom Water Week Sept 7th thru 22nd .

Lots of meetings…submitted by Greg Brown, Ferndale, WA

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