>Wildlife&Illahee CreekUpdate 12/18/07

>Brief Wildlife & Illahee Creek Update

Salmon. Salmon are still around and can be seen jumping, in spite of all the seals and sea lions in the area. We are hoping they are hanging around to go up Illahee Creek, but they are probably going to find it difficult, as we will describe below.

Barking. Barking can still be heard at all hours of the evening and less often during the day, only it isn’t your neighbors dog, it is coming from the sea lions out in the bay.

Illahee Creek.

1. The Illahee Creek culvert has essentially failed, in our opinion. It filled up with sediment after the last storm such that the vertical opening at the inlet was 19 inches and only 5 inches reported at the outlet. The county cleared an approximate 15 foot section downstream of the outlet on Monday (12/17/07) in hopes that the sediment inside the culvert will wash into the newly created depression. It will likely be a process that will take months of monitoring and cleaning, barring any new major storms.

2. Salmon passage is unlikely since the storm filled the stream channel with sediment causing the stream to free flow over the estuary in a number of places. Several channels seem to be developing and with the rain more channels have appeared. The most surprising is a channel that is draining to the south which goes in front of Louie’s house which is evident as the chocolate brown water flowing south out of the estuary. The estuary house seems rather vulnerable to the stream at this point. We hope the county is not liable for permitting the house to be built on a flood plain and in a channel migration zone.

3. On Wednesday we will try to locate the source of the sediment laden water as it is often the indicater of a slide along the creek corridor.

Jim Aho

ps Some have asked how to electronically sign Mike Nicolaus’s letter to the Kitsap Sun. If you responded to the email that you supported the letter we copied your response to an electronic signature sheet. The current count is ~50 signatures.

>Timbers Edge/SEPA Update 12/10/07

>Technical Review for Timbers Edge is Wednesday (12/12/07) at 10 am in the Commissioner’s Chambers of the Administrative Building.

SEPA comments were due Friday (12/7/07). Attached is the letter the Illahee Forest Preserve sent in.

As we understand it, this is a meeting between the applicant and the county, which is open to the public to observe, but not necessarily to participate in, unless the applicant requests comments.

This will give everyone who can attend an idea of what is being planned for this development. This project supposedly has the 40′ by 60′ lots that are grandfathered or vested before the area was down zoned.

Those concerned about what this project will do to the Fir Drive area and Illahee Creek are requesting a good showing at this meeting.

Dennis Sheeran & Jim Aho

7 December 2007

Commissioner Josh Brown, Chair
Commissioner Jan Angel
Commissioner Steve Bauer
Larry Keaton, DCD Director
614 Division Street, MS-4
Port Orchard, WA 98366-4676

Subject: Land Use Decision / Timbers Edge SEPA Comments

Enclosure: (1) Illahee Forest Preserve letter dated 29 October 2006
(2) Dr. Joel Massmann letter dated 17 October 2006

Dear Commissioners & Director Keaton:

Illahee Creek is a seriously threatened salmon stream.

We are writing this letter to the BOCC and DCD in hopes that a consensus regarding Illahee Creek and the Illahee Community can be reached to avoid possible legal conflicts.

Illahee Creek is a small salmon stream that requires aquifer recharge to maintain an adequate base flow during no-rain periods. Scientific studies were conducted in 2005 and 2006 to document this fact, which was instrumental in the BOCC’s decision to down zone the area as part of the 2006 Comprehensive Plan Update. Enclosure (1) is the letter we sent requesting the change, which also documents the communities efforts to protect Illahee Creek.

This is not a new revelation as this area surrounding the stream is both a Category I and Category II Aquifer Recharge Area according to the Critical Area Ordinance (CAO) maps of the area. What makes the CAO designation unique for this particular area is the underlying aquifer supplies the base flow in Illahee Creek, which in turn supplies the water supporting anadromous fish (coho, chum, cutthroat, and steelhead) inhabiting the stream, and also supplies water to the deeper aquifers because of the hydraulic continuity between the aquifers in this area. The aquifer sensitivity is further described in Enclosure 2, with Dr. Joel Massmann responding to questions from the Illahee Community Citizens Advisory Group.

The board’s decision to rezone the area in 2006 was just the first step in the process to protect the base flow in Illahee Creek. The next steps are the crucial ones – to determine how best to get the area rainfall back into the ground and into the aquifer. The natural forested features in the area support aquifer recharge. Additionally, the existing lower density of homes in the area, coupled with the infiltration of septic effluent, help recharge the aquifers. The problems comes with higher housing densities.

Utilizing Washington State’s vesting laws, the Timbers Edge project is proposing high density housing (mostly 40’ by 60’ lots), presumably because of the expense of bringing a sewer line approximately one mile through the Illahee terrain.

We are proposing a possible solution that should be investigated at this stage of the planning process that may result in an acceptable resolution for nearly everyone involved.

The land use decision of concern to those trying to protect Illahee Creek is the blanket BOCC resolution that states sewers are required in all urban designated areas. We understand the reason for the resolution, but recommend an exemption from the urban sewer mandate for critical aquifer recharge zones, where the scientific evidence supports such a zone, due to the environmental conditions in the area. We, therefore, request an exemption from the sewer mandate for the Fir Drive Aquifer Recharge area.

Concurrently, we request maximum Low Impact Development (LID) applications for any developments to infiltrate storm water back into the ground. This is also an objective for back fitting existing homes in the area as part of a Centennial Clean Water grant with the Department of Ecology.

We recognize that critical aquifer recharge zones and stream low base flows are complex issues, and solutions are not easy. But by working together with the best available science, we may have a chance to minimize the impact to our streams and watersheds, which contributes to the health of Puget Sound, and at the same time supports urban growth.

We, therefore, request your support to save a threatened Illahee Creek.

Sincerely,

James Aho
For the Illahee Forest Preserve

cc:
Port of Illahee
Illahee Preserve Stewardship Committee
Illahee Community Citizens Advisory Group (CAG)
Illahee Community Club
City of Bremerton, Community Development
Suquamish Tribe
Kitsap Sun

>Storm Update 12/8/07

>It was heart warming traveling around Illahee this past Monday (12/3/07) during the storm. Residents were out keeping drainage catch basins and roadways clear of obstructions nearly everyplace we went. We were impressed also with county employees who were working in the area. We noticed a number of slides along Ilahee Creek’s steep banks, and will report on them later.

Storm water planning has taken on a new meaning for some after seeing the effects of this storm. We are hoping the county will take us more seriously when we raise our concerns about storm water along steep slopes. For many Illahee residents, this is what we witness in some form after every major storm.

The silt laden water was again seen out in the bay for miles. Most disconcerting is the fact that the culvert under Illahee Road is nearly filled up with sediment and only 19 inches of clear opening remains. If one good sized log were to block the opening, the rushing water would quickly filled the flood plain and wash over the road, likely causing major damage.

We have been watching the culvert since it was put in (2002) as with each new major storm the culvert opening decreases. We have attached two photos the Krigsmans took of the culvert, which were passed on to the county which show just much it has filled up over the years.

Additionally, it appears channel migration has taken place near the mouth. The old channel appears to be filled with sediment causing the flow to move west and closer to the road. It looks as though the stream flow could have gone either way once the old channel filled up, but was likely impeded by the channel armoring and possibly the new house that was built on the flood plain.

We hope the county can figure out what to do before the next major storm hits so we don’t lose Illahee Road to a washout. We also hope they will keep the community informed about their plans, since the road and the creek are of concern to most of us.

Jim Aho