Port of Chehalis

Port of Chehalis Director of Operations Rick Rouse, left, and Executive Director Randy Mueller explain plans for restoration and flood reduction at Berwick Creek. Most of the work is scheduled to take place next year.

The Port of Chehalis will soon join the army of public entities from small municipalities in the state of Washington working to repair and update fish culverts.

Rick Rouse, senior director of operations for the Port of Chehalis, detailed plans earlier this week to replace a pair of culverts attached to Berwick Creek that travel under Bishop Road and Borovec Road within the Port. The culvert replacements coincide with plans to perform flood mitigation and habitat restoration work on Berwick Creek itself, with port officials working to secure permits to complete that project by the end of 2020. 

Construction of the new culverts themselves will likely not take place until sometime during the 2021-2023 state budget cycle, Rouse said, but a $110,000 aquatic species restoration grant from the state will fund preparations for the nine-figure construction job. The job will include widening the culvert under Bishop Road in anticipation of an adjacent property owner wanting to widen the road there to include a turn-out lane.

“It’s all subject to funding constraints,” said Randy Mueller, CEO of the Port of Chehalis. “Obviously, the Port has our own funding sources for some things, but for culvert replacements, we really rely on funding from other agencies. If there continues to be that sort of grant funding available, we’ll continue to identify those kinds of projects. At the state and local levels, there are many culverts in need of replacements, and we’re no exception to that.” 

Grant funds from the Chehalis River Flood Authority will cover the estimated $400,000 flood mitigation and habitat restoration project at Berwick Creek. Those funds become available on July 1, so most of the earth-moving work will take place between May and October of 2020, Rouse said.

The banks of the creek need to be pulled back from the waterway to allow for better water flow, which will lead to better conditions for fish repopulation. A bend in the creek off Bishop Road will be adjusted to include a berm designed to keep the creek from jumping the bank onto nearby properties.

Landscaping will be added to a portion of the creek in part to provide more complete shading of the water during the summer months, a change meant to benefit the fish and wildlife in the creek, not members of the public.

“Because this is private property first and foremost, the things we’re really going after here are flood reduction and habitat restoration,” Mueller said. “You won’t see public amenities like trails or natural areas on a project like that.”

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