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Meetings will help chart the fate of Glendale Creek

The first of five public meetings focusing on the future of Glendale Creek and its delicate surroundings is this week in Clinton.

The free seminar, sponsored by the Island County Public Works Department, will be from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 18, at Clinton Community Hall, 6411 Central Ave.

County staff members will give an overview of the series, titled “Glendale Creek, the Story of a Stream.” It will include the history and dynamics of the stream, its vegetation, its use by fish and a history of the Glendale area.

Geomorphologist Shane Cherry, owner of Cherry Creek Environmental in Seattle, also will speak. Geomorphology tries to explain why landforms look the way they do, and to predict future changes through geography, geology, archaeology and engineering.

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

The April 4 flood, caused by a collapsed beaver dam upstream, washed out a 200-foot segment of Glendale Road near its intersection with Holst Road, and the culvert under it.

Soil and fallen trees flowed a mile downstream to the tiny beach community of Glendale, damaging a number of houses and depositing mountains of mud and debris.

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.

For the future, county officials have focused on three options for Glendale Road.

These include creating turnarounds on either side of the gap, installing a large-diameter oblong arch culvert under a repaired roadway or building a bridge.

A culvert and repaired roadway, or a bridge, would probably cost more than $1.3 million, officials say. The total package for either option, including stream restoration, has been estimated at more than $3 million and would require at least two to three years to complete.

The county is pursuing state and federal funds to help pay for repairs, Brackett said. He said officials hope to decide by spring how to proceed. Construction could begin by summer, if funding is in place, he said.

Meanwhile, the county has been working since the flood, especially during periods of heavy rainfall, to remove sediment and debris from the 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.

The upcoming seminars will continue from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on alternate Thursdays at Clinton Community Hall. The tentative lineup:

• March 4: A discussion of watershed plants and animals, and a discussion of beavers and the stream, by Michael Pollock of the fisheries division of the National Oceanography and Atmospheric Administration.

• March 18: Fish use of the stream, by Todd Zackey of the Tulalip Tribes; and recent activities, by Alan Johnson, of Natural Systems Design of Seattle.

• April 1: “Glendale, the Rough Years,” with Clinton resident Craig Williams of the community organization Friends of Glendale and the South Whidbey Historical Society.

• April 15: What’s next? A discussion of funding, regulations and future plans, led by county staff and Jamie Bailes and Doug Thompson of the Washington state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“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,” Brackett said. “Any place with fish, dams and beavers.”

For more information, call Brackett at 321-5111, ext 7954, or e-mail RandyB@co.island.wa.us.

The seminar series is in association with WSU Island County Extension and Whidbey Watershed Stewards.

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