Port of Kennewick, Corps to improve Clover Island shoreline

The Port of Kennewick and Army Corps of Engineers may be able to start shoring up Clover Island’s eroding shoreline and improving public access and fish habitat in a few years.

The Corps has money to pay for the first planning stage to enhance Clover Island’s shoreline, the Port of Kennewick commission was told Tuesday.

Much of Clover Island is still covered in concrete rubble, and is undercut and either eroding or sloughing off into the river, said Tana Bader Inglima, the port’s director of governmental affairs and marketing.

In recent years, the port has been finish an 863-foot walkway along the Columbia River near the new lighthouse and plaza. The project involved removing tons of concrete that had been dumped to protect against erosion and replacing it will more environmentally-friendly basalt, trees and shrubs.

Improving the shoreline would help attract more businesses to Clover Island and would assist in the port’s efforts to redevelop Columbia Drive and renew downtown Kennewick, Bader Inglima said.

Tri-City area residents also have expressed the desire for improved access to the rivershore, Bader Inglima said.

Rivershore enhancement is critical both for local residents as well as for tourism, said Port Commissioner Tom Moak.

Clover Island has been in the national queue for this federal ecosystem restoration funding since 2008, Bader Inglima said.

Changes in the way the federal program is managed during the last year has allowed the Corps to prioritize Clover Island, said Cindy Boen, chief of plan formulation for the Walla Walla District of the Corps.

The partnership is possible because the Corps built levees in the area that eliminated riparian and shallow water habitat, making shallow water habitat in short supply, Boen said. Clover Island is a prime location for ecosystem restoration, especially with the opportunity to restore 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, Boen said. And they think they can get about a half mile of restored shoreline as part of the project.

The Corps already has brought a team of biologists and engineers to look at the site, Boen said.

The feasibility process will take the project to about 30 percent design, Boen said. The Corps and port staff will work together to develop different alternatives, get them through the federal requirements and then recommend a plan that will maximize benefits with the least cost.

The Corps will cover the first $100,000, Boen said. After that, the Corps and port will split the feasibility costs 50-50. Some of the port’s portion could be covered by in-kind contributions. Port commissioners gave their approval to move forward with the feasibility process.

The Corps and the port still will need to formalize the effort in a feasibility cost share agreement that will lay out the scope, responsibilities, roles and the cost share, Boen said. The costs still are being determined.

The feasibility process may take between a year to a year and a half, Boen said. Finishing the feasibility would give Clover Island first priority for federal construction dollars, Boen said.

For design and implementation, the Corps would fund 75 percent of the project, and the port would be responsible for the remaining 25 percent, Boen said. The value of the port’s real estate can go toward that 25 percent.

The port will need to provide the real estate work, such as land easements and right of ways, she said.

Federal funding is limited to no more than $5 million, Bader Inglima said. No more than 10 percent can be used for recreational benefits.

But that means that it can help with trials and pathways and plantings along the shoreline, she said

The port eventually may need to spend around $1.5 million to $1.75 million, which could include the value of the port’s land, Bader Inglima said.

Having the federal match of 75 percent for implementation and construction will help the community see significant improvements along the shoreline rather than in small chunks, Bader Inglima said.

“This is really really exciting, it’s kind of like a dream come true,” said Port Commissioner Skip Novakovich.