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SHELTON – Federal, state and private partners today announced a unique agreement to remove an obsolete dam and restore fish passage to Goldsborough Creek near Shelton, Wash.
The project will open up 14 miles of ideal spawning and rearing habitat to salmon and sea-running trout, supporting thousands of fish every year. The construction contract is expected to be awarded later this month with a majority of the work starting in spring 2001.
"The Goldsborough Creek Restoration Project is an exciting example of cooperation between public and private sectors to improve fish habitat," said Representative Norm Dicks (D-Bremerton) at a signing ceremony held on the shores of Goldsborough Creek. "The project sponsors are to be congratulated for ‘walking their talk;' putting in the money, the time and the effort to restore an important component of the South Puget Sound fishery."
Partners to the agreements include the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which will manage the project; the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the project's non-federal sponsor; and Simpson Timber Co., owners of the dam.
Also in attendance were representatives from the Squaxin Island Tribe, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Southwest Puget Sound Watershed Council, the South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group, state legislators and representatives of the City of Shelton and Mason County -- all of which have provided support for the project.
"We are pleased to be working in a public-private partnership to remove a dam and improve fish habitat on Goldsborough Creek," said Simpson Investment Company Chairman Colin Moseley of the project. "This represents a milestone in Simpson's ongoing stewardship efforts spanning 110 years."
Some 65 percent of the $4.8 million project will be funded by the federal government through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under Section 206 of the Water Resource Development Act, which authorizes funding and management for aquatic ecosystem restoration. The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, using funds provided through a special legislative appropriation, will provide up to $1.1 million for the project, as will Simpson Timber Co.
"This is one of the first dam removal projects initiated under 206 authority," Patricia Cardinal, project manager for the Corps, said. "We are proud to be completing this project with so many supportive stakeholders."
Jeff Koenings, director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, said the project will support an estimated 2,000 adult coho salmon, 10,000 chum salmon and hundreds of steelhead and sea-running cutthroat trout each year. Some Puget Sound chinook salmon, listed last March as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act, have also been found in the river, although the other species are expected to be the main beneficiaries, Koenings said.
"We have been working very hard in recent years to protect our native salmon runs through fishing restrictions and modifications in our hatchery programs," Koenings said. "Projects like this address one of the biggest remaining challenges we face in recovering Northwest salmon populations by opening up vital freshwater habitat to spawning and rearing. Goldsborough Creek is a big step forward in that effort."
Central to the project is removal of an aging wooden dam that partially blocks fish passage on Goldsborough Creek. The 31-foot drop created by the dam will be recontoured over more than 2,000 feet of the creek channel, with weirs (acting as "steps") implanted in the streambed to aid fish passage.
The dam was originally built in 1921 by the Shelton Power and Light Company to supply hydroelectric power to the city of Shelton. It was later used to supply water to mills on the Shelton waterfront but has not had any purpose since 1996.
The agreements signed today signify a financial partnership between the parties involved. Simpson Timber will maintain and operate the fish passage once it is completed and WDFW will monitor the effects on salmon populations.