Restoration Plans To Aid Juvenile Salmon In Columbia River Estuary Out For Review

Mitigation plans that will benefit juvenile salmon on a large urban island in the Columbia River are out for review.

The Columbia River Estuary Task Force has developed several restoration actions at Government Island, an island owned by the Port of Portland and Metro — a 3-county regional government – that lies to the northeast of the Portland International Airport. The Government Island Restoration project has been developed by CREST in association with the Port.

Government Island is managed under a cooperative agreement between the Port and the State of Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, which maintains two public docks on the north side of the island.

The Section 408 review of CREST’s plans is being conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s Portland District, which is asking for comments by June 27.

Portland District is reviewing CREST’s proposal to evaluate restoration actions, select a set of preferred restoration actions, and develop the construction-ready design documents for implementation of the selected project to benefit juvenile salmonids, while balancing the Port of Portland’s (Port) existing mitigation requirements, according to a Corps news release.

Section 408 provides for the Corps to grant permission to another party, in this case CREST with the Port of Portland, to alter a Corps civil works project upon a determination that the alteration proposed will not be injurious to the public interest and will not impair the usefulness of the Civil Works project, according to Corps information.

The proposed project would modify a federal flood protection system (revetment) and therefore require authorization from the Corps. Section 408 provides authority to the Secretary of the Army to grant permission for the alteration or modification of Corps federal civil works projects when, in the judgment of the Secretary, such alteration or modification will not be injurious to the public interest and will not impair the usefulness of the project, the news release says.

The proposed restoration project includes:

* Removal of a tide gated water control structure that currently excludes fish access from much of the floodplain interior habitats of Government Island;

* Installation of large wood to facilitate fish passage, herptile and beaver habitat enhancement, and maintenance of the Port’s waterfowl mitigation wetland acreage;

* Reconnection of a historical wetland swale along the upstream portion of the island to enhance fish and wildlife access and habitat function;

* Removal of invasive plant species and re-vegetation with a native plant palette specified by habitat zones (e.g. low to mid-elevation emergent marsh, high marsh, and riparian/upland); and,

* Enhancement of riparian and upland wildlife habitats through construction of hibernacula and habitat piles.

More information is available at CREST’s website: http://columbiaestuary.org/rfp/government-island-restoration-project-construction-rfp

Habitats on the island include upland forest, riparian forest, grasslands, and freshwater wetlands, the Corps says. A sizable portion of the wetlands on the island are held as waterfowl habitat mitigation lands established in the mid-1990’s by the Port as compensation for filling of wetland areas adjacent to runways at Portland International Airport to eliminate bird-airplane hazards.

The Bonneville Power Administration has provided grant funding to CREST in support of the feasibility and design tasks associated with the project.

The Corps is soliciting comments specific to this project from the public, federal, state and local agencies and officials, and other interested parties. Comments will be considered in determining whether it would be in the public interest to proceed with this action.

Interested parties may submit, in writing, any comments directed specifically to this proposal and not to other regulatory processes administered by the Corps or other government agencies pertaining to the Government Island Restoration project.

Comments should refer to PM-F-Government-Island-Restoration-2019 and the date of this Public Notice (June 12, 2019), and be postmarked by the comment due date (June 27, 2019).

Comments must be sent to:

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Portland District,

ATTN: Ms. Valerie W. Higdon,

P.O. Box 2946

Portland, Oregon 97208-2946.

Or, send comments electronically to: valerie.w.higdon@usace.army.mil, message subject MUST SAY: Public Notice PM-F-Government-Island-Restoration-2019.

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