Army Corps makes a financial splash

KINGSTON — The Carpenter Creek/Apple Tree Cove Estuary is supposed to be a place where animals can quietly live in their natural habitat with minimal disruption from humans.

But it’s been a little too quiet for those trying to help this particular environment — until now.

The Army Corps of Engineers recently designated $150,000 for a project that will eventually replace the South Kingston and West Kingston culverts with bridges. The funds, to be used in 2005, will allow the Corps to finish the permitting process and finish the bridge designs, said Kitsap County habitat biologist Monica Daniels.

However, there still isn’t enough money for the construction work, as the preliminary estimated cost of replacing both culverts with bridges is nearly $3.8 million. While the $150,000 may be a small chunk of change in comparison, it’s an important one.

“This is really good news because the Corps canceled a lot of projects throughout the Northwest,” Daniels said. “So allocation of this money for Carpenter shows it’s a priority for them. It will put us in a better position for us to get funding in the future.”

Daniels also noted that a letter writing campaign to the Corps by Kingston residents and local and state legislative officials was a major factor in the decision to release the $150,000.

It is still unknown when construction will start. The county, which is paying for 35 percent of the project, has a $618,905 Salmon Recovery Funding Board grant, which needs to be used by 2008 set aside for the South Kingston project. It still needs to find funding for the West Kingston project. The remaining 65 percent will be paid for by the Corps.

Due to its location, the South Kingston culvert is more adversely affected and, therefore, is favored over the West Kingston culvert, Daniels said.

“It’s closer to the estuary and that bridge causes most of the backup of water, so by replacing (South Kingston first) you get, like 80 percent of the benefits back to the estuary,” Daniels said.

The reason for the project is to simply slow down the natural process of the estuary becoming a marsh or wetlands. Currently, sediment is backing up in the waterway and is filling in faster than Mother Nature would normally let it, Daniels said. The culverts are also a barrier for salmon that swim out to the Sound and come back every fall.

By installing bridges, water will be able to flow in and out of the estuary at a natural rate and the sediment won’t fill in as quickly. Water quality and plant life will improve as a result, she said.

The project is planned to be completed in phases, with South Kingston first in summer 2006. At the same time, the county will seek matching funds for the West Kingston culvert.

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