Clallam aide discusses dike concerns

Official dismisses link to flooding on Kinkade Island

By Jim Manders

Peninsula Daily News Thursday, May 16, 2002

Sequim, WA---A day after community officials were criticized over plans to buy out Kinkade Island land owners, Clallam County Community Development Director Bob Martin addressed concerns over a planned dike removal near the island that was never completed.

Martin confirmed Wednesday that the county had been approved for an $85,000 “reimbursable” grant to remove the dike in accordance with a salmon habitat enhancement project.

County officials spent $16,621 of the grant in 2000 on an engineering study, which concluded the dike on the west side of the island should not be removed.

The county never received the balance of the $85,000, he said.

The dike removal project was designed to improve fish habitat, but the study concluded that eliminating the dike would increase flood danger on the island, he said.

According to Martin the dike’s presence had no impact on floodwaters in January, which swept away an island house.

The flooding was caused when Dungeness River crushed into the Kinkade Creek channel after part of a logjam worked itself loose, Martin said.

Resident: ‘Remove dike’

Kinkade Island resident Steve Muller, during a Tuesday public hearing, chided the county for not buying out property owners on the west side of the island and for removing the dike to ease the flooding hazard.

Muller said removal of the dike would have allowed water to flow into side channels during flood events.

The public hearing was required as part of a county effort to secure a $1.2 million Federal Emergency Management Agency grant application.

The county is seeking the grant in order to purchase the Kinkade Island property from willing sellers.

The actual application is due in June.

Muller said the effort to buy out landowners amounts to intimidation. He said he is one of two people on the east side of the island who don’t want to move.

County officials claim about 80 percent of island property owners are interested in the buyout. Muller said many are non-resident owners who won’t be able to develop their land.

Although the engineering report advised against the dike removal, Martin said Wednesday a small channel was previously opened along the riverbank north of the dike.

Target was habitat

Martin said that work was intended to improve fish habitat and not necessarily to ease island flooding.

A previous report by former county habitat biologist Joel Freudenthal may have caused confusion on dike removal.

Freudenthal’s report said, “the dike removal project was completed on Sept. 15, 2000.”

In a telephone interview Wednesday afternoon, Freudenthal, who now works for the Yakima Department of Public Works in Yakima, said dirt and some old car bodies were removed from the riverbank north of the dike.

The area cannot technically be considered a “dike” because it didn’t contain concrete riprap normally found in such structures, he said.

Rivers End

Kinkade Island isn’t the only location where the county wants to buy out property owners to move them from the river’ flood path.

An application has also been filed with the Federal Emergency Management Agency for a grant to buy out River’s End property owners in Dungeness.

Martin said residents at River’s End are in more danger than those on Kinkade Island because they are in the flood plain.

But many River’s End property owners disagree and also oppose county efforts to buy up private property along the river.

He said dikes currently in place should be maintained because of development in locations protected by man made barriers.

The town of Dungeness east of the river is protected by a dike, as are homes in the Dungeness Meadows development, just south of U.S. Highway 101 west of Sequim.

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