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Clover Island restoration project moving forward

The entirety of Clover Island’s river shoreline likely is to be improved and for less than an initial $5 million budget as part of a project between the Port of Kennewick and Army Corps of Engineers.

Environmental restoration, particularly creating fish habitat, is the main goal of the project, said Karen Zelch, the Corps’ project manager, during Tuesday’s port meeting. What the Corps may end up doing with the shoreline won’t be determined until later this summer, and it will be more than a year before work could begin.

Port officials said they were pleased with the progress on the project, noting it could provide an opportunity not only to stabilize the island but also to improve some of its recreational features and provide more development opportunities.

“It’s nice to see our partnership with the Corps develop,” said port board Vice President Skip Novakovich.

The port and Corps began discussing the project earlier this year, using a federal program that may cover up to 75 percent of the costs for the environmental restoration project.

“Usually when you work with the Corps, it can take years to get the money,” Zelch said. “This program’s a little unique. We’re already in the queue for funding.”

The Corps’ interest in the project stems from restoring some of the shallow water fish habitat that previously fringed Clover Island before the construction of the McNary Dam and river levees flooded them, Zelch said. While the project is still in feasibility mode, Corps hydrologists and other experts already have examined the shoreline that stretches from the Clover Island lighthouse to the area beyond the Clover Island Inn.

Different sections of the shoreline will require different approaches. The area around the lighthouse has more concrete infill that will need to be dealt with, and the composition of other sections also varies. But the overall idea is to create a more gentle slope to the shoreline and put in rocks, native plants and wood features like logs to provide shelter for fish and stabilize the shore, Zelch said.

The project also could lead to more traffic to the island. About 10 percent of the project budget may go toward recreation improvements, said Tana Bader Inglima, the port’s government relations and marketing director. This could lead to improved trails and lighting. The shoreline stabilization also could open the island up to more development.