Date: July 18, 2013, 9:30 am – 2:30 pm PST
Venue: Panhandle State Bank, Sandpoint, Idaho
|Ray Entz||Kalispel Tribefirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Greg Becker||NRCS||208/263-5710 email@example.com|
|Erin Mader||POBC||208/263-5310 firstname.lastname@example.org|
ACOE – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
AVISTA – Avista Corporation
BLM – U.S. Bureau of Land Management
BPA – Bonneville Power Administration
DU – Ducks Unlimited
ICL – Idaho Conservation League
IDFG – Idaho Department of Fish and Game
IDL – Idaho Department of Lands
NRCS – Natural Resources Conservation Service
POBC – Pend Oreille/Priest Lake Basin Commission
RRD – River, Research and Design
USFWS – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Chip Corsi welcomed the participants and thanked them for their continued interest and support in the project. The meeting was to update project partners and to ensure that everyone was on the same page regarding the project scope and timing. Since the group last met in October 2012, coming away with a shared vision, the project has progressed to point where the engineered design is now at 65 percent, and it is time to start the NEPA and permitting processes. The Clark Fork River delta is a rich and an important wetland habitat straddled between two mountain ranges, and at present is at risk of eroding away. The success of the Pack River delta project has shown that we can be successful in restoring these types of habitats, and also demonstrates when we work together we can all do something great.
First, it is hoped that an outcome of this meeting is that the partners will agree the scope of the restoration project is the entire Clark Fork River delta area, and that the NEPA analysis is to consider the entire project proposal. It is expected that the full project scope will be completed in phases, as it is dependent upon funding and has timing constraints; the project may take several years to complete. The first phase of the project focuses on the northern portion of the delta accessed from Hwy 200, and the second phase of the project focuses on the southern areas along White and Derr Islands. The thought is to complete the NEPA analysis for the entire project proposal so that this work will be already completed when funds are identified and made available in the future.
And although the project has been delayed for one year, the timing to implement the first phase of the project is still quite tight. The Design Team identified that July 1, 2014, is a drop dead date for starting the project if it is expected to be completed during the winter of 2014/2015. The barging of rock to the project site must start on July 1st or the project will be delayed another year.
Brian Heck provided the project partners a presentation of the preliminary 65 percent engineered design. Currently, the 65 percent design shows straight lines, but this will change as the design becomes more refined toward the 90 percent detail. Also need to take comments from potential contractors, and this may also change the design detail. Heck noted that the project Design Team (DT) met two days prior to the partner meeting and so changes to the design as a result of DT meeting still need to be incorporated into the engineered design; the design remains a flexible document at this time and input is welcomed.
At present, the design is divided into two construction phases. The first phase is proposed to start on July 1, 2014; at the lake’s full summer pool so that the rock and large rootwad trees needed for the construction can be barged to the construction sites on Areas 7 and 3. The second phase is expected occur after the first phase is completed and involves the shore line protection along White and Derr Island.
In Phase I, the contractors will need to construct a barge bridge system to cross a channel in order to access Areas 7 and 3. Then the contractors will have about five months to complete the proposed construction after the lake is lowered to 2,051 feet in elevation. Heck noted that the log yard (Area 11) is very accessible and as result, becomes a lower priority in terms of completing some of the borrow and fill work if funds or time become limited.
White and Derr Islands are proposed as a second phase and so as a result the engineered design for these areas is at 35 percent. Engineers recently revised the design and drawings for the White/Derr Island protection after noting the changes to the main channel of the Clark Fork River. A large depositional pattern is occurring in the middle of the main channel splitting the flow and resulting in excessive erosion along the southeastern portions of Area 3 and the island shorelines of Derr and White. If no action is taken the river will continue to destabilize into a multi channel system and erode the shorelines.
Essentially the face of the Clark Fork River delta takes a beating, said Heck. Using wind speed and direction, and looking at the river flow velocities throughout the delta area, the engineers determined the thickness needed for protective rock structures. Most of the roadways throughout the project site have a dual purpose such that these roadways also serve as the toe protection for the vegetated breakwater sections. Heck reviewed the different cross-sections on the plan set noting that the amount of roughness and height of protection was designed to dissipate the wind and wave action an area experiences. The structures are designed with the minimum rock needed coupled with an aggressive vegetation effort.
The back edges of the breakwater protection will have emergent zones or shelves. Heck noted that a lesson learned from the Pack River project was that a difference of six inches in fill height made a difference on whether the vegetation survived or perished. Settling of fill and rock structures need to be taken into account when building structures and placing fill. Since one of the objectives for the project is to increase wetland habitat with a goal to return some functionality to the system, all design approaches involve the use of smaller stone to “top dress” larger structures coupled with an intensive planting effort. On the backside of the breakwater structures, the design calls for vernal pools or backfill and the planting of emergent vegetation. The engineers stated that they are using these methods to “disguise that rip rap was used in the construction.”
Heck noted that immediately after project construction the reconstructed areas will resemble a “moonscape-looking” environment (showing a photograph of the Pack River delta immediately after construction), but in five years time it is expected that the vegetation will be similar to that seen on the Pack River delta project. Heck directed the participants to review the handout showing photographs of the vegetation on one of the reconstructed islands in the Pack River delta. Recruitment of woody plants like cottonwood, willow and rose spirea, as well as several grasses and forbs are observed on the Pack River project site. Many of these recruited species are transported to the project by the wind, birds, animals/people and the river. However, some of these plant species may also originate from seeds that have lain dormant in the fill for 60 years. Overall, Heck summarized that the observations of the Pack River delta project show what is possible for the Clark Fork River delta.
Heck moved on to discuss the project costs, and showed tables with project quantities and an estimated cost of about $10M to complete Phase I of the project (attached). Heck noted that the quantities of materials needed for the construction such as the materials needed and the amount of fill to be moved drove most of the estimated construction costs. Heck used a value of six percent to calculate the mobilization costs (noting that ten percent is usually the value is used). He also estimated that it would cost $5 to move one yard of fill material. The DT also worked to identify other areas where project funds could be saved like having the access roads also serve as the toe for the breakwater projection. Also, the DT researched and found that all of the heavily branched rootwad trees needed for the project (i.e., 500 trees) can be harvested and donated from the Derr Creek habitat segment of the Pend Oreille Wildlife Management Area (WMA) located seven miles from the Clark Fork Drift Yard. To reduce costs further, Heck said that they were also using the LiDAR information to determine borrow and fill areas so that the least amount of material is used or moved. Finding a rock source only four miles away from the delta and barging material to the proposed project site prior to the construction window provides great savings to the project. Heck concluded noting that the project costs will continue to become more refined as the design approaches the 90 percent level and a contractor is identified
Also, Heck reported that the project engineers just found a new rock source near the old BLM rock pit located on Johnson Creek that could supply all of the rock for the Phase II of the project, protecting the shorelines along White and Derr Islands. The rock in the old BLM pit was determined not to be of the right size and shape. However, the rock about 100 feet to the west was found to be of the correct shape and size and could be easily loaded on a barge and transported to the shorelines along White and Derr Islands.
Heck then asked the partners if it was possible to bring the pool up sooner, as any extra time to mobilize and start construction as soon as possible was advantageous. Brengle answered that a request can be made, but of course the management of the lake is dependent upon many factors.
Then a participant asked a question regarding costs and whether low-cost solutions were considered. The DT noted that by design the project was cost-efficient. All of the proposed engineered structures such as the Benway Weirs and other vegetated breakwater structures are proven techniques. Dave Derrick has designed and built similar structures in other dynamic systems across the U.S., and noted that the approach in the Clark Fork was to use proven techniques, but to use these techniques in a unique combination. Derrick has over thirty years of experience working with these techniques and they have proven to be reliable over time and in large flooding events; there is no need to build huge rock structures or to rip rap all of the shorelines as protection can be provided with minimal use of rock combined with an intensive vegetation effort.
Bill Maslen noted that it was important to keep Jenna Peterson posted so the project can be kept on track.
The participants reviewed the proposed schedule for implementing Phase I of the Clark Fork project (attached). It was noted that once the USFWS receives the final Biological Assessment for the project, then it will take them 135 days to complete their assessment.
It was also noted that the NEPA contractors will need the 35 percent design and plan for the second phase of the project (White and Derr Islands) very shortly. Heck and Derrick replied that they believed they could have that ready very soon as they had already started working on the design.
Next Tina Blewett informed the participants that DU has initiated and will host a website for the restoration project. The website (http://www.ducks.org/idaho/idaho-content/idaho-clark-fork-river-delta-restoration-project) is currently on-line in its preliminary state, and is up and running. Information to be posted to the website is to be directed through IDFG. Blewett said that once DU receives information, it should take about 48 hours before it is posted. Ruth Watkins suggested having a “Right Now” button because the public like to know what is happening right at the moment. Another suggestion was to have a section where frequently asked question are answered. Corsi noted that a time commitment is needed from the web-master to maintain the site.
Other plans to inform the public of the project include providing signage at the project site and along the highway. An effort will be made to produce informational material that is worded such as to avoid being pre-decisional.
Jenna Peterson noted that a public scoping meeting was planned for Wednesday, July 31, 2013, between 4 – 7 pm. Letters alerting landowners have been set out, and the comment period for the project opened on July 15, 2013. The scoping meeting will consist of an open house for the first hour, followed by a half hour overview presentation. The comment period will close on August 19, 2013.
Watkins inquired about the funding resources, noting that about $10M was needed for the first phase of the project. The group noted that the Avista Corporation has about $3M ready for the project. Maslen noted that under the Letter Agreement between the State of Idaho and BPA, a total of $3M was allocated toward the project, with another $1.5M being either applied to the project or applied to acquisition. Currently, $3M was available less any funds that have been expended on planning and design. An addition $4M is needed to complete phase I of the project, but these funds will be difficult to attain from grants or foundations because a mitigation responsibility exists.
Chip Corsi closed the meeting thanking the partners for reaffirming their commitment to the project.