OLYMPIA - The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Snohomish County Department of Parks and Recreation are developing a solution to ongoing dike maintenance problems on Spencer Island, a popular outdoor recreation site near Everett.
The agencies have scheduled a public meeting to discuss Spencer Island's future on Jan. 29 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Mill Creek office, 16018 Mill Creek Blvd.
The decomposition and settling of old wood chip-based dikes on the island has led to access restrictions for hunters, walkers and birdwatchers, while prohibitive costs to repair existing damage to bridges and pathways on the island will likely lead to significant changes to the property.
The dikes were constructed from 1960 to 1980 from a variety of materials, including large wood chips. The chips have been slowly decomposing and eroding away, requiring a high degree of annual maintenance.
Access to the island has been eroding away along with the dikes. Barricade tape and flagging on portions of the dike trails that circle the island warn of exterior dike erosion, as well as erosion around two culverts that allow water to flow through an interior cross dike.
A slow-burning underground fire has been eating away at the wood chips since July, forcing additional access restrictions, while an exterior footbridge collapsed in October because of continued erosion.
"The instability of the dikes surrounding the 400-acre island, and the high costs associated with repairing and maintaining the historic recreation access, necessitate looking at alternative management and access to the island," said Lora Leschner, regional wildlife program manager for WDFW.
No decisions have been made on how to best manage the erosion problems on Spencer Island. The agencies are currently working on a plan to breach portions of the dikes to reduce the extent of erosion on remaining portions of the island. Controlled breaching would also benefit fish and wildlife by opening an estimated 250 acres of estuary habitat.
"Public input is an essential component of the long-term management of Spencer Island and how public access is handled after these changes," said Sharon Walker, senior park planner for Snohomish County Parks and Recreation. Walker said a series of meetings would be scheduled in the coming months to talk about the island's future.
In the meantime, Walker said public comment is encouraged on Spencer Island access and use issues. To contribute an opinion, or to get on a list for notification of upcoming meetings, contact either of the following agency representatives:
Senior Park Planner
Snohomish County Parks & Recreation
9623 32nd St. SE
Everett, WA 98205
Snoqualmie Wildlife Area Manager
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
P.O. Box 1765
Duvall, WA 98019-1769