Island County turns spotlight on Glendale Creek restoration

When it comes to Glendale Creek and its washed-out road, the county is getting creative. And it wants your help.

A series of free public meetings begins this month in Clinton featuring experts in all phases of living with and protecting a stream and its surroundings.

“We want to learn together with the public,” Randy Brackett, county assistant public works director, said Monday. “It’s so people can understand, when we make a decision, why we chose what we chose.”

The seminars will explore geological, natural and human effects on Glendale Creek — before a decision is made how to repair road damage from last spring’s flash flood, Brackett said.

The county has been working since the flood, especially during periods of heavy rainfall, to remove sediment and debris from Glendale Creek, clearing its bottom and shoring its banks.

Fish have even started to return to what was, before the flood, one of the South End’s most prominent salmon-spawning streams.

About $60,000 has been spent on the cleanup effort so far, Brackett said. Work continues, he added, but now it’s time to look at the big picture.

The seminars begin Thursday, Feb. 18 and continue every other Thursday for five or six sessions. The meetings will be from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Clinton Community Hall, Highway 525 and Central Street.

Featured at the first session will be geomorphologist Shane Cherry, owner of Cherry Creek Environmental in Seattle.

Geomorphology tries to explain why landforms look the way they do, and to predict future changes. It encompasses geography, geology, archaeology and engineering.

Featured speakers for the later sessions will be announced, Brackett said.

“While we’re focusing on Glendale in particular, we also think this will be a good series for anyone near a stream elsewhere in the county,” he said. “Any place with fish, dams and beavers.”

“A number of other streams on South Whidbey have the same kind of setting,” Brackett continued. “We thought we’d open this up so the whole community can learn.”

The April 2009 flood, caused by a collapsed beaver dam far upstream, washed out a 200-foot segment of Glendale Road near its intersection with Holst Road, and the culvert under it.

Private property structural damage was estimated at more than $2.1 million. There was an additional $70,000 in estimated personal property loss.

Officials said the county incurred the loss of $2 million worth of roadway, and spent another $60,000 in assisting Glendale residents with the cleanup effort.

Judy Feldman, interim director of WSU-Island County Extension and the seminar facilitator, urged everyone to attend the Clinton series.

“If we all better understand the nature and mechanics of streams and the intertwined relationships that exist in our watersheds, we should be better able to appreciate possible impacts from development and restoration activities,” Feldman said.

In a related development, county commissioners today will discuss a public works department proposal to grant an on-call contract to the Seattle firm which has been overseeing the maintenance and restoration of Glendale Creek.

Brackett said the firm, Natural Systems Design, has been providing stream analysis and expertise, directing county crews as they deal with sediment and debris.

“It has everything to do with keeping the stream from cutting deeper and creating more problems,” Brackett said.

“We like the idea of having this kind of consultant at our disposal,” Brackett said. “Next time, if it’s Maxwelton Creek or at Holmes Harbor, we’ll have someone we can call.”

The county commissioners will meet in a work session at 9 a.m. today in the basement of the county courthouse annex in Coupeville.

For more information, call Brackett at 321-5111 ext. 7331 or e-mail

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