The Washington State Department of Ecology, Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife and Kitsap County are partnering in a new project to help restore tidal processes in the Harper Estuary. This work also will develop options to reclaim the estuary habitat that has been degraded due to an undersized culvert and by roadway fill.
The overall project objectives are to reclaim historic estuarine areas, improve tidal hydrology, remove fish passage barriers, reduce sediment scour and deposition problems, as well as reduce the fragmentation of shoreline and upstream habitats and environments.
Several activities have led to the degradation of the Harper estuary, including road construction through the estuary, inadequate tidal exchange through the road culvert, inappropriate disposal of bricks from a historic manufacturing operation, and construction of a makeshift boat ramp by filling part of the estuary.
Project site description:
Harper Creek enters the estuary from the southwest side and its course has been channelized through the upper estuary. An abandoned road embankment aligned along the northeastern edge of the estuary has isolated a portion of the estuary, converting it to freshwater marsh. A bulkhead currently lines the northern shore of the freshwater marsh. A second road, SE Olympiad Dr, was constructed and bisects the estuary across its historic mouth. A makeshift boat ramp has filled a large portion of the estuary. The remnants of a clay mining and brick operation are evident in the estuary area and the adjacent hills.
The recommended plan involves: replacement of the SE Olympiad Rd. culvert with a 60-ft concrete span bridge; removal of the makeshift boat ramp from the estuary mouth; and removal (breach) of a section of the historic road embankment that resides on the historic sand spit. Additional components of the recommended plan include: brick removal; bulkhead removal; dredging/excavation and regrading tidal drainage channels, mudflats, and freshwater marsh areas; removal of freshwater marsh species, and replanting with saltwater marsh vegetation.
Susan Donahue of Kitsap County Department of Community Development has been named public outreach coordinator for the project.
A public meeting Feb 4. To discuss the history and future of the estuary, will begin at 5:30 p.m. at Colby United Methodist Church, 2881 Harvey St. in South Colby.
Environmental resource issues:
Fish Passage; Habitat Loss and Fragmentation; Threatened and Endangered Species; Tidal Exchange; Water Quality
Threatened and Endangered Species: Puget Sound Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha)