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Fix will cost neighbors $100K
POULSBO — State Fish and Wildlife engineers have deemed a 12-foot diameter arch culvert a “sufficient” replacement for a smaller culvert in Dogfish Creek that washed out in December — taking a section of access road with it — on the 21000 block of Bond Road.
“It does meet our criteria,” Fish and Wildlife habitat biologist Gina Piazza said Wednesday. “We’re issuing the permit.”
That comes as a relief — albeit costly relief — to the property owners who depended on the access road to get to and from their homes in this rural neighborhood of five homes.
“By the grace of our neighbors,” Wy Chamberlin said, residents have been able to access their homes by crossing private property to Ladybug Place, a private road. Without that access, the residents of this tucked away neighborhood would be landlocked and public safety personnel would have no access in the event of an emergency.
Chamberlin, who is representing the group of property owners, said replacing the washed-out culvert will cost “upwards of $100,000” — a cost they will have to share. Chamberlin said he’s received a grading permit from Kitsap County and the culvert and fill materials have been ordered. He said Wednesday he hopes the project can be completed this month.
The project, designed by a Seattle fisheries engineer, consists of a 12-foot diameter steel arch culvert on concrete footings being placed over the stream, then backfilled to create a new access road over the stream.
That’s a significant improvement over the previous culvert — an 18-inch diameter concrete pipe believed to be 100 years old. That culvert clogged and backed up during a December storm. When it washed out, it created a 20-foot-deep cavern that separated the neighborhood from Bond Road; sediment from the washout suffocated eggs left by spawning salmon and steelhead downstream, according to biologists from Fish and Wildlife and the Suquamish Tribe. Piazza said property owners will have to remove debris from the washout as a condition of the permit.
The permit application is subject to review by the Suquamish Tribe, a signatory to the Point Elliott Treaty of 1855. The treaty guarantees Tribes the right to fish in their usual and accustomed areas, and Tribes are therefore co-managers of Washington fisheries.
While the Bond Road culvert is privately owned, it points to a larger problem in the state — culverts that become barriers to fish passage, particularly endangered or threatened salmon species.
U.S. District Court Judge Ricardo Martinez ruled March 29 that the State of Washington must fix fish-blocking culverts under state-owned roads because diminished salmon populations violate treaty provisions related to Tribes’ access to fish.
In an earlier interview, Paul Dorn, a marine biologist for the Suquamish Tribe, said healthy wildlife habitat is important to everyone, Native and non-Native.
“The concerns we have are the same to all of us,” Dorn said in January. “We all live here because we love the environment. You want to minimize your impact on the environment. [And] the threat to salmon that spawn in that stream is pretty real.”