The Port of Kennewick and the Army Corps of Engineers are moving forward with a plan to stabilize Clover Island's eroding shoreline and improve fish habitat.
The port commission unanimously approved an agreement Tuesday with the Corps to share the cost of putting together a plan to determine how to finish repairing the shoreline while adding to habitat and recreation.
The Corps will cover the first $100,000 of the feasibility plan. After that, the Corps and port will split planning costs in half.
The port will end up paying less for the planning than anticipated, said Tana Bader Inglima, the port's director of governmental affairs and marketing. The time the port spends on the project will be counted toward the port's portion, reducing its cash contribution to about $97,000.
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Cindy Boen, chief of plan formulation for the Corps' Walla Walla District, told the commission that the Clover Island project is of federal interest, which sets it up to be able to work on the project and receive federal dollars.
Much of Clover Island in downtown Kennewick is covered in concrete rubble and is undercut, either eroding or sloughing off into the river. In recent years, the port finished an 863-foot walkway along the Columbia River near the new lighthouse and plaza.
The project involved removing tons of concrete dumped to protect against erosion and replacing it with more environmentally-friendly basalt, trees and shrubs.
The partnership with the Corps is possible because the Corps built levees in the area that eliminated riparian and shallow water habitat. Officials believe they can restore about a half-mile of shoreline through the project and about an acre of shallow water habitat.
That restoration would benefit upper Columbia River spring chinook salmon, upper and mid-Columbia River steelhead and bull trout -- species either threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
Being able to restore the rest of the island's shoreline would benefit the public and existing businesses and would better position Clover Island for future economic development, Bader Inglima said.
And working with the Corps allows for a significant investment to be made instead of chasing smaller state grants to restore the shoreline in pieces, she said.
Developing parts of Clover Island would require basic stabilization of the shoreline and some plantings, said Larry Peterson, the port's director of planning and development.
What the port and Corps are considering is greater and will enhance habitat and restore the shoreline -- similar to what the port already did with the west side of the causeway to the island, he said.
The Corps and port staff will work together to develop different alternatives and then recommend a plan that will maximize benefits at the least cost.
The study should be finished in late 2015, Boen said. The Corps would probably ask for funding during the 2016 federal fiscal year, so work to finish the design can begin. Construction dollars would be needed upfront before construction could start.
For design and implementation, the Corps would pay 75 percent of the project, and the port would be responsible for the rest, Bader Inglima said. The value of the port's real estate can go toward that 25 percent.
The Corps could spend up to $5 million on the project, she said.
The commission and the Corps would have to approve another agreement so the recommended project can be designed and built, Bader Inglima said.
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