Corps of Engineers start Willapa Bay project

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle District, is reconstructing a sand dune in Willapa Bay near the Shoalwater Bay Indian Reservation to restore flood protection for the Shoalwater Bay Tribal community and cultural lands.

Crews from Manson Construction Co. of Seattle began staging heavy equipment in the repair area on Tuesday, with dredging scheduled to start July 27 and last until mid-October.

Impacts to traffic both on the roads and in the Willapa Bay are expected to be minimal, although throughout the project there will be portions of the beach that will be inaccessible.

Dredging activities and construction will be performed 24/7 from mid-July to mid-October and there will be increased ATV traffic traversing the beach during this time.

The $19.9 million federally-funded dune repair project is meant to provide coastal storm damage protection. In addition, the project will maintain habitat for the Pacific Coast western snowy plover and streaked horned lark, as both bird species are federally listed under the Endangered Species Act as threatened.

“Three major storms between December 2015 and October 2016 completely destroyed the northern portion of the sand spit and significantly eroded the remaining portion of the dune, threatening the Shoalwater Bay Indian Reservation, including culturally and ecologically significant wetland areas,” said Daryl Downing, the Corps’ project manager for the repair effort.

Repair work includes dredging approximately 750,000 cubic yards of sand to provide the materials to rebuild the 12,500 foot-long protective berm.

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