CHIMACUM - With construction scheduled to begin within a few months, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will hold a public meeting July 20 to provide an update on habitat restoration plans for Chimacum Beach in Irondale.
The meeting, which will include a question-and-answer period with WDFW project managers and biologists, is scheduled from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Tri-Area Community Center, 10 West Valley Road in Chimacum.
"This meeting is really a continuation of the one we had with area residents last July," said Doris Small, WDFW watershed steward. "We still have time to consider ideas that will improve this project, and we want to give people a chance to ask any questions they may have about it as we near the proposed construction period."
Planning for the project began in 2000 when WDFW received grants to purchase the 13-acre site on Chimacum Beach to improve nearshore habitat for juvenile salmon and marine fish. Re-establishing the natural beach will also be a boon for public recreation, Small said.
To achieve those goals, WDFW plans to remove 21,000 cubic yards of dredge spoils deposited on the site in the early 1900s. As part of that effort, the department will also clean up log debris left behind from the days when the site was used as a log-storage yard. Small said the job of removing the fill is currently scheduled to begin in late summer or early fall and last four to seven weeks.
"Once the fill material is removed, the water, wind and tides will basically finish the work of returning the beach to its natural state of sand and gravel," she said.
Not only will that make the beach more attractive for public recreation but it will also restore the nearshore habitat for salmon and other fish using the intertidal area near the mouth of Chimacum Creek, Small said.
In a competitive process for salmon-recovery funding, WDFW received a $470,000 grant from the state Salmon Funding Recovery Board to fund work on the Chimacum Beach habitat restoration project.
"Local citizens in this area have worked for more than a decade to restore summer chum runs to Chimacum Creek," said Small, noting that those runs are currently listed as "threatened" under the federal Endangered Species Act. "This project represents a significant step forward in that effort, because juvenile salmon rely on a healthy nearshore environment before heading out to sea."
Small said she has been working closely with the Jefferson County Public Works Department to ensure plans for the restoration project are compatible with those for a new county park on an adjoining property.
"Our goal is basically to return the beach to the condition it was in before it was filled for industrial development," she said. "A natural beach will have lasting benefits for area residents as well as salmon and other marine life."