OLYMPIA – A plan to restore the natural functions of a portion of the Satsop River floodplain will be the focus of a public meeting scheduled next month in Montesano by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
The meeting, which will include an update on the project and time for questions from the public, will be held Thursday, Aug. 22 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the WDFW regional office in Montesano at 48 Devonshire Road.
Since last spring, WDFW has been working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Satsop Committee, a local citizens' group, to develop a plan to reduce property damage caused by flooding and improve fish and wildlife habitat on the lower reach of the Satsop River.
Once restored, the project area near the confluence of the Satsop and Chehalis rivers would be owned and maintained by WDFW, providing recreational access for the public, said Chad Stussy, WDFW watershed stewardship biologist.
"The lower reach of the Satsop River has been altered in ways that are causing problems for both people and natural resources," said Stussy, WDFW project leader. "By restoring the natural functions of the river, we believe we can reduce flood damage and improve habitat for fish and wildlife."
As a step toward achieving those goals, the Army Corps of Engineers plans to begin a feasibility study this fall that will consider such options as removing riprap along a portion of the riverbank, breaching dikes, installing engineered log jams and planting vegetation to stabilize banks along the lower river.
That study, scheduled for completion next year, could open the door to federal matching funds to help fund the restoration project, said Lori Morris, project manager for the Corps.
WDFW properties in the project area could count toward meeting the state's matching-fund requirement, Morris said. Stussy noted that the Williams Pipeline Co. is currently negotiating to purchase 117.6 acres from three area landowners, and plans to donate that property to WDFW as part of a required mitigation measure for its Vail-to-Satsop gas pipeline project.
"This project is an example of how WDFW, the Corps and local citizens can work together together toward common goals," said Sue Patnude, director of WDFW's regional office in Montesano. "We view this as a pilot project that could lead to other cooperative projects throughout the region."