PASCO -- Two of several people who disagreed with the Port of Pasco's decision to cut down trees in front of the planned Osprey Pointe Business Park suggested alternatives to the port commissioners Thursday.
Although one clearly was unhappy that the port recently cut down a stand of cottonwood trees, the two focused their suggestions of what the port could do differently with the remaining third-mile of shoreline in front of the business park.
Randy Hayden, the port director of planning and engineering, said the port had made a conscious decision to remove trees along a third-mile of the shoreline to create a parklike setting.
He said the port also had decided to leave the other third-mile in a more natural state.
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"We really tried to balance the uses" in planning for the development just east of the port's present offices at 904 E. Ainsworth St., he said.
But once the port heard concerns from the public about the area from which the port removed trees, the port put off work planned for the more natural area.
Initial plans called for eliminating some trees that pose safety hazards, removing much of the undergrowth and eliminating weeds.
Shannon Hays-Truex, who is president of the Friends of Mid-Columbia River Wildlife Refuges, said members of her group were concerned when they saw the port cutting down cottonwood trees along the shoreline.
"We considered that an important corridor for habitat and wildlife," she said. "Now all those wildlife have been displaced. Where did they go?"
Her group recommended leaving fallen trees and other woody debris on the ground as cover for animals such as mice, mink, otters and beavers.
The group also has suggested leaving some standing dead trees for birds and owls to nest in and for bald eagles and osprey to roost in.
The group also recommended removing invasive weeds and replacing them with native riverside shrubs in which songbirds may hide.
Donna Lucas, secretary for the Columbia Basin Chapter of the Washington Native Plant Society, also made recommendations on what the port could do with the still-wooded area of the shoreline.
She said she understood the port's concerns about potentially hazardous trees, but she suggested the port cut limbs off of some stable snags and leave them standing.
Lucas also suggested the port leave some fallen trees as well as more of the native plants. She recommended the port set up paths through the area to encourage people not to trample the plants.
Some of the paths could be placed around islands of downed trees and native vegetation, she said.
"I like the island idea," Port Commissioner Bill Clark said. "To have something down and go around it on the trail sounds like an interesting thought."
But Clark also said safety is a big concern for the port, as is any additional cost should the port decide to adopt some ideas offered by Lucas, Hays-Truex and others.
Later in the meeting, the commissioners directed Hayden to discuss the ideas with the contractor as well as estimated costs. They asked him to bring the information back to their next meeting.
Also at the port meeting, commissioners voted to accept the completion of several recent projects at the Tri-Cities Airport.
Acting Airport Director Ron Foraker said the $150,000 expansion of the snack bar was officially finished. It opened just before Christmas.
The project entailed moving the former snack bar/gift shop and tripling its size. Additionally, the former snack bar was turned into a beverage bar that serves beer and wine.
M & P Construction did the work.
Port commissioners also accepted completion of the $490,000 parking lot expansion, which removed a landscaped dip in the lot and replaced it with 194 additional long-term parking spaces. Culvert Construction did the project.
-- Kathy Korengel: 509-582-1541; email@example.com