Forest Service to rebuild washed-out Dosewallips Road - Community forum Saturday in Brinnon

By Janet Huck
Port Townsend Leader Staff Writer


Brinnon, WA - Two years after part of the Dosewallips Road washed away, the U.S. Forest Service announced Tuesday, March 23, it would reconnect the road to the isolated Dosewallips ranger station, campgrounds and trailheads.

"Our reaction to the news is pure excitement," said Brinnon resident Bud Schindler, who is helping spearhead the local effort to rebuild the road.

Many residents believe the road is an integral part of the local economy. Visitors bring about $92 million to the Olympic National Park and Olympic National Forest, said Brinnon resident Ken Shock. Though most of the money stays in Clallam County, South Jefferson County was moving toward a tourist-based economy when the 300-foot section of road was washed out in January 2002.

About 500 people signed a petition to rebuild the road at the washout, 10 miles upriver from Brinnon.

"South County residents will derive more benefit from the park once the road is reopened," declared Shock.

Olympic National Park's superintendent said the project would open up the park. "The Dosewallips area is a small but important part of the 5 percent of Olympic National Park that is accessible to people in cars," said Olympic National Park Superintendent Bill Laitner.

The U.S. Forest Service won't reconstruct the narrow Dosewallips Road in exactly the same place. Biologists said the crumbling bank of the Dosewallips washout area became an important source of spawning gravel for salmon, so the agency couldn't repair the old road. Consequently, the agency plans to construct a bypass on the terrace above the washout. The reconnected road would once again open up to vehicle traffic the Elkhorn Campground, the Olympic National Park's Dosewallips Ranger Station, the Dosewallips Campground and several trailheads.

"Alignment and grade will be carefully designed to minimize the number of trees that will be removed and to protect a small tributary channel which is current coho salmon habitat," promised Dale Hom, Olympic National Forest supervisor.

The Olympia-based Olympic Forest Coalition opposes the terrace road option because it could affect about 200 old-growth trees. In the past, some members have vowed to appeal any decision to rebuild the road, said Shock. The environmental group couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday.

Brinnon residents are going ahead with their planned public forum from 7 to 9 p.m. this Saturday, March 27 at Brinnon School. However, they changed slightly the topics of discussion. Hood Canal District Ranger David Craig of Quilcene plans to kick off the meeting, explaining how the rebuild decision was made and talking about redevelopment plans.

Bonnie Phillips, chairwoman of the Olympic Forest Coalition, declined an invitation to meet in Brinnon on Saturday. State Rep. Jim Buck (R-Joyce) and some Jefferson County commissioners accepted the invitation.

"Our strategy is to have a good and meaningful discussion at the forum," said Schindler.



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