>Gilberton Creek Project – 4/28/10

>Many Inquiries Re the Gilberton Creek Project.  The Illahee Community Club was asked to write a letter of endorsement of the Gilberton acquisition project, which we hope will come through for them.

Illahee Community Club
PO Box 2357
Bremerton, WA  98310
April 27, 2010
Michael Yadrick
Great Peninsula Conservancy
3721 Kitsap Way, Suite 5
Bremerton, WA  98312
SUBJECT:  Riparian Protection Application –Gilberton Creek Wildlife Corridor Acquisition
On behalf of the Illahee Community Club, a not-for-profit corporation organized for area preservation and restoration, we would like to express our strong support for Gilberton Creek Wildlife Corridor Acquisition. Protection of the Gilberton Creek Wildlife Corridor and especially Grahn Cove will be an important step in preserving riparian and critical nearshore habitat on East Kitsap County’s Puget Sound shoreline. The 8-acre Grahn Cove parcel includes a saltwater lagoon (pocket estuary), saltwater marsh, sand spit, extensive tidelands and shoreline, lower reaches of Gilberton Creek, and a small apple orchard.  The project has significant natural habitat and scenic values, potential for low-impact recreation, and historic interest for the community.
This project is important to the Illahee Community specifically because:
  • The headwaters for Gilberton Creek are in the Illahee Community where a good portion of the watershed is situated.
  • The culvert that gave out on December 3, 2007 and resulting in the devastation of the Gilberton Creek riparian corridor also was within the Illahee Community boundary.
  • The Gilberton Community, like the Illahee Community, finds itself with some unique natural features, that are better used by wildlife than for development.
  • The Illahee Community has established wildlife corridors that connect the Cheney Estates with Illahee State Park, and Illahee State Park with the Illahee Preserve.  With your establishing another wildlife area and corridor north of the Illahee Preserve, there is a logical connectedness between all these wildlife areas so that wildlife islands are not created.
  • Our shoreline area connects with your shoreline area and scientists are continuing to understand the importance of the nearshore areas for the health of Puget Sound, and so we support the preservation of the critical nearshore habitat in the area.
Through fee simple acquisition, donation of a conservation easement, and land donation, the project will create a 15-acre, half-mile long wildlife corridor from existing Conservancy land to the Puget Sound shoreline. Because of the terrain between the Illahee Preserve and the acquisition area, we would suggest there may be a secondary wildlife between the Conservancy land and the Illahee Preserve.
Also, the conservation of Grahn Cove and adjoining parcels will permanently protect a unique natural area along a highly impacted shoreline.   Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has designated pocket estuaries like Grahn Cove as priority habitat for conservation.  While individually small, together they play a huge role in the health of Puget Sound salmon and forage fish populations.
Historically, Grahn Cove was a traditional clamming and encampment site for the Suquamish People, as well as a popular way point on the Mosquito Fleet ferry system. Without protection, the estuary is threatened by development because it is desirable waterfront property.  Conservation of this unique property will protect critical shoreline habitat, while providing opportunities for limited public access by small boat, reflecting traditional use of the site.
The Great Peninsula Conservancy (GPC) has a long history and solid reputation for preserving and stewarding important natural habitats across Kitsap, Mason, and west Pierce counties.  The Illahee Community Club is pleased to be a partner with GPC in this conservation project.  We pledge our endorsement and support as a neighbor and partner of preserving and protecting our natural features and specifically for the Gilberton Creek project acquisitions.
Sincerely,
Barney Bernhard, President
Additional Gilberton Creek Information.  Attached is a Gilberton Corridor Map that will explain much of the project as well as the attached basics below.


 The basics of the “Gilberton Creek Wildlife Corridor Acquisition” project are:
Great Peninsula Conservancy will permanently protect a half-mile long Gilberton Creek Wildlife Corridor linking 4 acres of existing Conservancy lands on the lower reaches of Gilberton Creek with a small pocket estuary on Puget Sound’s Port Orchard Bay, known as Grahn Cove.  The objectives of the project are to conserve important natural habitat while providing for low-impact public use by small boats as part of the Cascadia Marine Trail.  The current fee-title acquisition will add approximately 8 acres of tidelands, shoreline, lagoon, creek, and upland to the corridor. Complementing the fee acquisition, GPC will also accept approximately 4 acres of donated conservation easement and donated land along lower Gilberton Creek, which will bring the total protected area to approximately 15 acres.  The site has special natural habitat and scenic values, potential for low-impact recreation, and historic interest for the community. Please see the attached draft project map.
Grahn Cove was a popular summer campsite for Native Americans and a way point on the Mosquito Fleet Ferry operated by the Grahn family during the first half of the 20th century.  Descendants of the Grahn family that homesteaded the property in 1898 are working with Great Peninsula Conservancy to permanently protect this unique natural area.  The Grahn Cove parcel alone has: (1) approximately 4 acres of shoreline, stream, cove, and upland; (2) approximately 4 acres of tidelands to extreme low tide; (3) 370 feet of natural Puget Sound shoreline as measured straight across the parcel; (4) approximately 200 feet on both sides of Gilberton Creek as it passes through a flat-bottomed, steep ravine with mature forest at the top; and (5) an old apple orchard with 125 feet of no-bank shoreline suitable for public access by small boat.
The project encompasses a beautiful natural area where freshwater from Gilberton Creek meets saltwater at Grahn Cove on Port Orchard Bay. Grahn Cove has particularly high conservation value as a small sub-estuary on West Puget Sound, providing nearshore estuarine habitat for a variety of fish, birds, and other wildlife. Nearly 26% of the pocket estuaries identified around Puget Sound are stressed by urbanization. Of the 65 pocket estuaries in East Kitsap County (link to the Kitsap pocket estuary map), the Puget Sound Partnership characterizes only 20 as “properly functioning.” Until December 3, 2007, Grahn Cove would have fit in this category.  Tragically, a culvert under Illahee Road, one mile upstream from the mouth, washed out in a major storm event at that time.  The floodwaters carved a 35 foot high gap in Illahee Road and filled the  estuary with debris and sediment. Plans for restoring the cove should be finalized in the next few weeks and restoration is anticipated to occur during the summer of 2010.
 Conservation of Grahn Cove is important because the sheltered Port Orchard Bay marine passage between Bainbridge Island and mainland Kitsap County is used during a critical time in the development of juvenile salmon as well as many important forage fish, including sand lance, surf smelt, sculpins, and herring.  Grahn Cove and beach is a documented spawning ground for both Pacific herring and sand lance, which are important forage fish for seabirds, marine mammals as well as juvenile and adult salmon.  Pacific herring is a federal species of concern and a state candidate species. Sand lance is on WDFW’s priority species list.
Similarly, intertidal ‘embayments and pocket beaches’ like Grahn Cove are a WDFW priority habitat.  Juvenile salmon utilize these pocket estuaries at a critical stage of their life cycle for feeding and refuge.   Young salmon travel from pocket estuary to pocket estuary by traveling along a low salinity wedge of water along the shoreline.  Freshwater creeks such as Gilberton Creek play an important role in maintaining this low salinity shoreline zone. Grahn Cove provides an important link between Illahee Creek to the south and Steele Creek to the north.  Importantly, a variety of birds also use the site including greater yellow leg, dunlin, American wigeon, bufflehead, Barrow’s goldeneye, cormorants, kingfisher, bald eagle, and pileated woodpecker. Additionally, the no bank shoreline and the tidelands that surround the lagoon contain shellfish beds for little neck clam, butter clam, cockerel and geoduck.






Jim Aho

>Miscellaneous Items – 1/16/09

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Gilberton Creek. There is water flowing in Gilberton Creek from the new culvert to Puget Sound. Most of it appears to be from groundwater flow that is piped to two vertical concrete pipes upstream of the culvert.

Gilberton Creek Bank Washouts. We were surprised to see the washout areas from a moderate rainfall. The first photo is looking toward the culvert inlet and it taken from upstream. The second and third photos are looking back toward the culvert outlet and at the plastic cover that has been placed over the roadway bank washout area.

Gilberton Creek Restoration. A grant has been applied for to restore Gilberton Creek. We are waiting to find out if the Great Peninsula Conservancy (GPC) is successful in obtaining the grant. They were supposed to know by January 2nd, but an email to them this week indicated they had not received any confirmation. We found out about the grant when the GPC put out a position announcement to hire a “Gilberton Creek Community Restoration Project Coordinator.” Applications are to be in by 1/16/09 and are dependent upon the receipt of grant funding.

Illahee Creek. The report from Illahee Creek is little change was noticed from the last snow and rain events. It was noted however that sediment has nearly filled the area excavated by the county in the fall.

Illahee Preserve Parking Lot. Work should begin the next week on the new Preserve parking lot along Almira. We will try to get some photos.

Last Weeks Preserve Work Party. If anyone drove along Riddell Road by the Preserve last Saturday morning they were aware of a large Rotarian Work Party, along with some Illahee residents, working on trails within the preserve. Lots of wood chips were moved in the area along Thompson Lane, and a new trail was established. Some are probably aware that Thompson Lane serves about 14 home sites in the center of the Preserve area. One of the Rotarians stayed late to finish up some work and had his car sideswiped as it was parked along Thompson Lane. We have included his writeup of the event.

I suppose I should let you know about an unfortunate incidence which occurred after our work party at Illahee Forest Preserve last Saturday. I went back down to our trail project to do some additional sculpting and packing of the fill materials along the trail where East Bremerton Rotary and other volunteers had earlier been working. I took my car because it had my tools, plus it was a lot quicker to drive than walk from the Riddell Road parking lot. As I’ve done so many times during dozens and dozens of work sessions in Illahee Forest, I parked my car along the driveway. There was a wide spot in the driveway which allowed my car to be well off the road. From there I joined Lori Raymaker and Jim Aho to walk over to the proposed parking lot area along Almira Drive. When I got back an hour later someone had done a surgical sideswipe of my car. The ground was wet and soft so you could see where someone had swerved way over to hit my car. They targeted the driver’s rear view mirror. Bingo! They just nicked the trim on my side. I think I’ll be able to clean it up. However the mirror is beat up. I’ll need to replace it.

I thought others would want to know.

Dates to Save. Please save the evening of January 29th for a presentation of the final Parametrix report on Illahee Creek issues. We are also planning to have an overview of the approved Illahee Community Plan. On February 14th the Illahee Community Club will meet at the Sylvan Way Library at 1:30 pm. We will provide more information on these meetings later.

Jim Aho

>Miscellaneous Items – 10/24/08

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Seals or Sea Lions Barking? It that time of year when the waterside barking begins. We had the following report:

Was walking the dog this evening about 11:40. We were going uphill on Varsity. Suddenly from out in Port Orchard Bay to the north of University Point toward Battle Point on Bainbridge, came the barking of perhaps two rather large-sounding seals. Any idea why they would be barking at night? Pretty sure this is the first time I’ve heard them like that at night. The barking went on for about ten minutes. (Is it called barking?)

Same Question Was Asked Last Year. We went back into our archives and found the following entry and don’t remember whether the question was ever answered.

11/26/07 Post – Seals or Sea Lions barking? There has been a noisy seal or a sea lion barking for the past few weeks. We don’t know where it is resides, but it can be heard throughout much of Illahee at different times day or night. We don’t know if it is a seal or a sea lion so if anyone has any information please let us know. Some of the long time residents don’t remember this happening in the past.

Cougar Report in the Kitsap Sun. This is a story that hits close to home as we have three major wildlife patches in the area, the Cheney Estates to the South, Illahee State Park, and the Illahee Preserve, along with the Illahee Creek riparian corridor that is forested with steep slopes that keep it quite rugged for residents, but great for wildlife. We have attached the link to the story in the Sun. http://kitsapsun.com/news/2008/oct/23/forester-cougar-may-have-lived-in-east-bremerton/

Another Cougar Report? We received the following report but have left off the location at the request of some other nearby residents.

Regarding the cougar sighting reported near Sylvan Way, late this summer my next-door neighbors discovered a dead deer behind the large granite erratic downhill on the at the curve to my house. They noted that something was feeding on in it. A cougar attack? Any way of determining what was feeding on at this late date? Also, this summer I witnessed a standoff between my neighbors’ dogs and a coyote, much growling and bristling fur and hair. The coyote ran off when it saw me.

Road Dedication Ceremony. Yesterday, Thursday 10/23/08, was the ceremony for the Gilberton Creek culvert. In addition to Josh Brown, the Central Kitsap County Commissioner and Randy Casteel, the Public Works Director and some of his staff, we had a bald eagle looking on for awhile and a St Bernard checking on the goings on. We are waiting for a picture of the eagle, and have included several photos of the event. We will publish more photos of the event later. The road work and the culvert installation look great. Soon we should see grass coming through the mats on the hillside.

Illahee Community Plan Schedule Correction. There was a correction of the schedule date for written testimony that was sent out today. It read as follows:

What I intended to type in my email was that the written record for the Board of County Commissioners will be open until 4:30pm on November 25, 2008. Thank you again, for bringing my typing error to my attention and note that all original recipients of the original message are receiving this revision.

Excerpts From Endorsement Letters. We have received info copies of several endorsement emails written to the County Commissioners and have provided excerpts for your information. Some of the emails are long, and some are short, like the last one.

Excerpt #1 I am not responding to their opinions of “what’s wrong with the plan” sections, as others can better address those. The Illahee Community is unusually strong in its ability to unite and communicate with each other. We use several methods for disseminating information throughout the community: Postings on roadways, hand-delivered invitations to participate, continuously updated e-mail reports on community interests (not only for this plan but for anything we find interesting such as Wildlife Reports), US mail, Web sites, word of mouth, and community meetings. I am strongly in favor of working with the County to further preserve our natural resources and beautiful community through this Illahee Community Plan and have been actively involved and well-informed about each step even though I am severely handicapped and often home-bound, thus showing that most of those not involved in this planning process were simply not interested or did not have the time to do so. There has been no selective inclusion or exclusion from any of our community groups and activities but rather the opposite, with a reaching out to try and include as many and diverse a representation as possible.

Excerpt #2 We would like to take this time to comment on the Illahee Community Plan in the most favorable light. For the following reasons, we support and applaud the efforts of this project on the behalf of Kitsap County DCD and the many residents of Illahee who gave support and structure to a product which will form the basis of community ideas and a sharing of vision for the future of their community. Three years of community planning went into this project by community residents who strongly felt the need to be active participants.

Excerpt #3 Now that we are down to the final process I ask as a member of the Illahee community for you to support the sub area plan as provided by county staff.

Keep sending in your reports. We get the most comments from our wildlife updates, so your reports and pictures are solicited.

Jim Aho

>Responses and Questions – 10/17/08

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Response to Realtor Letter? We have been asked if there will be a response to the Realtor letter that was included as part of the Update on 10/15, or the KAPO letter that was attached to the 10/16 Update. So far we have heard of several individuals who are working on responses to the Realtor letter and when they found out they weren’t the only ones responding they said they would like to meet Sunday afternoon or early evening to either coordinate their responses or agree to write their own. If anyone would like to help with the responses, please answer this email as we will pass on the meeting place and time, when it is decided.

KAPO Letter Response. We have had a number of people who want to know more about the Mullenix situation and why the KAPO people are blaming the Illahee community for the Mullenix’s problems. A nearby neighbor to the Mullenix property is preparing a response that will likely contain pertinent facts to the situation and controversy. We should be able to get permission to send it out in an Update when the letter is completed.

Illahee Road Opening at Gilberton Creek. Some thought the date of the opening ceremony (Oct 23rd) would be the date the road opened. Actually we did too, until we saw the progress, which was evident from the photos send out earlier this week. The road is now open as shown in the front page headlines in Friday’s Kitsap Sun. What a pleasure to not have to drive around anymore.

Other Responses to the Community Plan Attacks? We have been asked what community members can do to show their support for the Illahee Community Plan. The Realtors and KAPO sent their email and letters to the three County Commissioners, with copies to the County Administrator and the Department of Community Development Director. Community members should do likewise. They should also plan on attending the the Commissioner’s meeting when the Illahee Plan comes up for a public hearing.

More Ideas Later. We expect there will be more information and other options available and we will pass the information on as it becomes available to us.

Jim Aho

>Illahee Road Project Ceremony Oct 23! – 10/15/08

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Attached are two photos showing the progress of the road repairs at Gilberton Creek.

The following is the official notice of the Gilberton Creek Illahee Road opening ceremony scheduled for next Thursday:

———- Forwarded message ———-

Please plan to join us as we celebrate completing the Illahee Road Project!

Thursday, October 23, 2008
 10:00 a.m.

During December the storm of December 3rd last year a portion of Illahee Road was destroyed by the record-setting rains. Kitsap County Public Works, with assistance from the Washington State Department of Transportation and the Federal Highways Administration began work almost immediately to develop a repair plan. Join Kitsap County Commissioner Josh Brown, Public Works officials, the Illahee community, and other invited guests as we celebrate the work completed.

The celebration will be held adjacent to the road near where the repairs were made. Follow flaggers directions for parking. Please call The Open Line (360-337-5777) if you have questions.

The Open Line
Kitsap County Public Works

(360) 337-5777

www.kitsapgov.com/pw

>Miscellaneous Items – 10/11/08

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Dock Smelt Fishing. We visited the Illahee community dock on Friday evening and were surprised to find one of the squid fisherman catching smelt on his squid jig. See the photo.

Gilberton Creek Culvert Ceremony. We heard there will be a ceremony on October 23rd at 10 am to celebrate the completion of the Gilberton Creek culvert and paving work on Illahee Road. There will likely be more information on this later that we will pass on as we receive it.

Realtors Reject the Illahee Community Plan. We heard the Kitsap County Association of Realtors sent a letter to the county commissioners and county officials asking them to reject the Illahee Community Plan for a number of reasons including one that evidently states there are enough county subarea plans and they don’t want another one. This might be a good opportunity for Illahee residents to contact their realtor friends to find out who this group is and how representative they are of individual realtors. If someone can get a copy of the letter, which we assume is a public letter, we will put it out in an update.

Sewer Public Notices. A number of people who live along the Timbers Edge proposed stormwater and sewer lines did not receive the county notice dated September 18th, that was actually received by the community members beginning on September 26th, with one property owner in Everett receiving his notice on October 1st, one day before the written request deadline of October 2, 2008.

Written Request for Hearing? We heard that in spite of the late notification, several residents sent in written requests for a stormwater and sewer hearing.

November Hearing Date? We additionally heard that a November hearing date was being contemplated by the Hearing Examiner, but only for a sewer hearing, not a stormwater hearing.

Notice Problem. We think the problem with the notice was the map, which was used to determine the notice recipients.

Sewer & Stormwater Lines Not Shown. The sewer and stormwater lines were not shown on the map and therefore many of the recipients who live along the route were not notified.

What Next? We know the county is aware of the problem with the notices not being delivered in a timely manner. We also know the county is aware that the notice did not go to all the affected residents. We are unsure what the county is planning on doing to rectify the situation.

Community Thoughts. (1) Proper and timely notice of the proposed stormwater and sewer line plans need to be given to all the affected residents. (2) The Illahee community needs to ask for a public meeting for the county to explain the sewer issues and the sewer infrastructure plans for the Illahee community. (3) A hearing should be held so the community can respond to the proposed Timbers Edge stormwater and sewer plans being planned for Illahee.

Jim Aho

>Miscellaneous Items – 10/5/08

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Gilberton Creek Road Report. We received the following update from Kitsap County on the progress of the Gilberton Creek culvert and road repairs:

ILLAHEE CULVERT REPLACEMENT PROJECT STATUS

Status: October 1, 2008

This project replaces the roadway and culvert that was washed out during the December 2007 storm. Construction started on August 18, 2008. A new fish passage friendly 10-foot diameter culvert has been installed, streambed material has been added, and backfill for the roadway embankment has been constructed. The project is nearing completion. Installation of utilities are currently underway, asphalt paving is scheduled for the week of October 13th, followed by guardrail installation, and paint striping for roadway channelization. The roadway will be opened to traffic when all work is complete, which, pending any weather delays, is scheduled for October 31, 2008.

The Open Line
 Kitsap County Public Works
 (360) 337-5777
 www.kitsapgov.com/pw

Illahee Creek Culvert Report. We were surprised how much sediment has been moving into the cleaned out Illahee Creek culvert recently. The opening is remaining in the 40 inch range with roughly 20-25% of the excavated deeper hole already filled up. We will try to attach a photo looking downstream through the culvert to show the recent buildup.

Recent Rain. We have a rain reporting station in Illahee and I talked with Barney Bernhard who said we received .94 of an inch the other day and interestingly Barney said the same storm dumped 1.9 inches at the same latitude at Hood Canal.

Barred Owl Goes After Dog. We had a report from a jogger in the Illahee Preserve who had his border collie with him, evidently in front of him, and told how the owl swooped down on the dog and evidently realized it was larger than it thought, and about 3 feet away abruptly pulled up. The owl retreated to a nearby tree which allowed the jogger to identify the deep seated dark eyes characteristic of a barred owl.

Small Hawk Snatches Small Bird. Another jogger reports a small bird along the road east of the Preserve being attached and carried off by a small hawk and said it happened about 20-25 feet in front of him and happened so fast he could hardly comprehend what happened and marvelled at the lightning speed of the hawk.

Salmon Jumping. Periodically salmon have been seen jumping along the Illahee shoreline.

Winter Sea Life Beginning to Emerge. Seals are starting to be seen along area floats in larger numbers, along with cormorants. Also some of the wintering seabirds and ducks have just been spotted.

Timbers Edge. We heard the expert witness reports all made it in by the deadline of September 30th and they were all well done. We will check to see if we can pass them on in an update or possibly put them on the website.

Sewer Hearing? We heard that there were several residents who asked for a sewer hearing by the Oct 2nd deadline and we are wondering how that will be noticed since there were many residents along Illahee Road who weren’t notified. We briefly saw one of the sewer letters and would like to have someone scan the document into a pdf file and send it to us so we can pass it on to those who aren’t aware of the new one-mile proposed sewer line being run through Illahee.

Keep the Wildlife and Other Reports Coming. We have many tell us they like to read the updates so keep the reports coming in. We will report what you pass on to us.

Jim Aho

>Wildlife Update – 9/27/08

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Send in Your Wildlife Reports. The wildlife updates are the reason many have requested to be on the Illahee Community Update list. We will try to keep these updates coming, but we need your input. And, don’t hesitate to remind us as we receive many emails each day and sometimes important items get overlooked.

Bird Data Near Gilberton Creek. Vic Ulsh recently spoke with Kate Kuhlman of Great Peninsula Conservancy (GPC). GPC is working on potential grant opportunities which could lead to their acquisition of property at/near the mouth of Gilberton Creek. As you know, this creek was severely altered during last December’s major flood event. GPC already owns land along this creek. They are contemplating additional land with hopes of habitat restoration work. One area of information which they are looking for assistance is any bird inventory data, including shore birds, in this area. Might anyone in the Illahee Community have any insight on bird activity near Gilberton Creek? Please provide feedback to Vic Ulsh at (360) 479-6900 or vic@bradleyscottinc.com

How Many Salmon Were There In Illahee Creek? The other day we noted that the community was trying to restore salmon to near historic levels and someone asked whether Illahee Creek was a significant salmon stream and just what were the historic levels. The text below is the answer we provided and now others are trying to talk with other old timers to see what they remember. Let us know if you have any additional historical fish information or information of on whether Dr. Schutt had salmon in his reservoir.

When I got involved with Illahee Creek that was one of my first thoughts was what was this stream like before the area was settled. Was this small stream, that flows year round, ever a significant salmon stream?

It does have a history of people getting salmon from it. Ed Fischer, who is now 94 years old, tells about going to LaMotte Creek (Illahee Creek) to get salmon for his mother to smoke and can. Other old timers talk about residents filling up wagons with salmon from the creek. Dr. Ray Schutt (who started the Schutt clinic) put in a small dam on the creek, which then was referred to a Schutt Creek. (Seems like the creek was named by whoever lived at the mouth, until it was finally officially named Illahee Creek.) There were reports of lots of fish and deep pools along the creek corridor during those intervening years, though evidently not the salmon runs of the earlier years.

Illahee Road was put in in the 1930′s with two 36″ culverts which were noted by some as being salmon barriers. They were replaced in 1999 with a box culvert 14′ by 9′ which was slowly been filling up with sediment. During the December 3, 2007 storm the culvert filled up almost to the top and was recently cleaned out by the county.

I don’t think Illahee Creek was ever a big producer of salmon like some of the other creeks. Because it is a small stream it was likely very easy for early settlers to clean out the salmon. Ed Fischer said they would simply “scoop” the salmon out of the creek.

The salmon I have personally seen in the stream are chum and coho, and some pretty good sized ones at that. When the county cleaned out the culvert I got a chance to watch them move some of the coho fry from the upstream net past the work area and I, like the workers, were surprised by the numbers considering the Dec 3rd storms impact on the creek and culvert. Another of the old time residents who died a year ago and was in his 90′s was Meredith Jones, a sheet metal planner and estimator, who talked about watching steelhead follow spawning salmon to eat their eggs. Something that can only probably be seen in small streams like Illahee Creek.

I think the reason for it not being a top producer is of its small size and short length, coupled with the fact that it was probably decimated early on by the locals taking too many of the easily accessible fish.

There have been a number of fisheries biologists who have looked at Illahee Creek over the years. The latest was part of a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant. They recommended the Schutt dam be taken out or broken up. They said the sedimentation problems have filled up the pools necessary for good salmon habitat. And they recommended that beaver be used to help with getting more pools in the creek. We will soon get another report regarding getting control of the stormwater surges as part of a Department of Ecology grant. Lots of action for a small stream, but if we don’t do something we will end up with another road washout like happened with Gilberton Creek.

Owl Reports. We heard from residents near the 3rd Street wetland areas that they regularly see owls in the area, along with deer.

Squid Report. The squid being caught at the Illahee Community Dock the other night were plentiful, but small.

Cutthroat Jumping. Another report by a waterfront resident noted that cutthroat have been seen jumping along the shoreline.

Nudibranch at Brownsville Marina. This might be a new term for many. These are “soft-bodied, shell-less marine opisthobranch gastropod mollusks, which are noted for their often extraordinary colors and striking forms.” We saw one earlier this month at the Brownsville Marina and thought it worth including in this update, see attached photo. Jeff Adams of the UW Sea Grant program identified it for us as “Giant nudibranch – Dendronotus iris – to 12″ long,” and “…ideal underwater video subject, for either its feeding lunge at a tube-dwelling anemone or its entrancing dance in the water column, well off the bottom.” Picture credits go to Bob Stephens of Knoxville, Tenn who was on the boat with us and had his camera ready. 

Jim Aho

>Miscellaneous Items – 9/21/08

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Lengthy Update. We just looked over the contents of this Update, which is rather lengthy, and wish we were reporting on wildlife items instead. On the other hand, all these issues eventually affect wildlife in the area so they are important, just not the kind of issues anyone wants to spend much time on. We are looking forward to the day when items such as these are behind us.

Gilberton Creek Culvert Replacement. The Gilberton Creek culvert replacement project is progressing nicely. The 10 foot diameter culvert is installed and seems almost 200 feet long. We walked through it but by the time we got to the middle it is so dark we could barely see where we were walking. The bottom of the culvert is filled with sediment and rocks mimicking the stream bed upstream and downstream. There is a nice link at the illaheecommunity.com website to a Kitsap Sun video of the construction that has taken place.

Illahee Creek Culvert Cleanout. Kitsap County crews spent nearly two weeks cleaning out the sediment that had filled the Illahee Creek culvert. They also redirected the stream channel that had migrated south and was rechannelizing following the Dec 3rd storm, back into the old stream channel. We heard they encountered a significant number of fish in the process, moving them past the work area as the fish migrated downstream into a capture net. We checked the opening upstream at the culvert inlet following the cleanout and it was 56 inches rather than the 19 inches it had been before the cleanout work began. On Sunday 9/21/08 the sediment had already increased 18 inches at the culvert inlet and the clear opening was 38 inches. There evidently were some issues with the work going on as we heard the Department of Fish and Wildlife put a stop work order out and called for an investigation and we are waiting to hear officially what those issues are.

Raised Flood Plain. Many of those who look at the situation at the Illahee Creek culvert wonder what can be done when the flood plain raises like it did during the December 3rd storm, reportedly 18 inches. When the storm raised the flood plain it nearly filled the culvert and did fill the old stream channel such that a new channel was formed to the south of the old channel and next to the new house structure. The county is hoping by cleaning out the culvert and redirecting the stream (by cleaning out the sediment that filled the old stream channel), that this will prevent a complete failure of the culvert.

Solution or Temporary Fix? - The problem that many see is that sediment is still being flushed down Illahee Creek by unchecked stormwater and will likely fill up the newly dug out culvert and stream bed. The problem is the flood plain upstream of the culvert has also raised by a like amount, possibly around 18 inches, and it becomes impossible to dig out the whole upstream flood plain. And thus the reason continually digging out the culvert sediment is considered a temporary fix.

Long Term Fixes Required. The consensus of many is that the sedimentation problems of Illahee Creek need to be resolved as soon as possible. The Port of Illahee grant with the Department of Ecology will soon identify long term fixes required to control the sedimentation problems. Sedimentation control is the first long term fix that needs to begin once the corrections are identified. The second concurrent long term fix is a likely culvert replacement or a bridge structure along with a corresponding raised road bed, which are the only known long term options identified to date when working with a raised flood plain.

Hearing Notice on McWilliams Road. We have been advised that there is a new hearing notice posted on McWillams Road. It evidently is for another reasonable use permit to go into the wetland buffer area north of McWilliams road where the vehicles are parked. This is the wetland area at the headwater of the North Tributary to Illahee Creek. This tributary supplies about a significant portion of the baseflow to Illahee Creek and residents in the area are wondering why we have wetland regulations since all the requests to go into the buffer areas seem to be approved. After watching what happened to the 3rd Street wetlands the residents aren’t sure wetlands get any protection by the county. The hearing scheduled for Sept 25th at 10 a.m. in the Commissioners’ Chambers in Port Orchard. Residents are reportedly looking at the file contents sometime before Thursday’s hearing and if we get a report from them we will pass it on.

New Sewer Notice & Hearing? We think there will be a sewer hearing notice going to residents along the proposed sewer route that extends from the Timbers Edge project to the Illahee North sewer pump station. The county failed to give notice of the sewer line that is part of the Timbers Edge project and now has agreed to let adjoining residents know of the sewer line. The county is also giving the residents a 14 day time span should a property owner along the route want to request a hearing, as long as the request is in writing.

Should Residents Request a Hearing? Since the county staff has already recommended approval the running of a sewer line through Illahee, does it do any good for residents to request a hearing? Some residents feel they have no say, while others are wanting more information about what is being proposed and wonder how this will affect them now and in the future. And, some say what is being planned is inappropriate. Bottom line is that only the residents along the route will be able to request a hearing on the sewer and stormwater plans.

Another SEPA Appeal? The sewer notice will likely also note that a SEPA appeal can be filed with a $500 fee. The Illahee Community Club wants residents to know that the Club has already filed a SEPA appeal with the county on this project, which includes the sewer plans. The hearing was held on August 28th, with many of the Club’s expert witnesses preparing written reports because they were unavailable for the rushed hearing, and are to have their reports in by September 30th. There is no reason for residents to file another SEPA appeal as far as we can determine. If residents are unfamiliar with the Club’s appeal, they can contact any of the Club’s board members.

Illlahee Community Plan News. We heard several of the Planning Commission members toured Illahee on Friday morning, in preparation for their deliberations on the Illahee Community Plan which is to take place on Tuesday, September 23rd, beginning at 9 am in the Commissioners’ Chambers. The Planning Commission public comment period is over but the public can attend the meeting to watch the deliberations. The Planning Commission will then make a recommendation to the County Commissioners, who will have the final say on the Plan. For anyone that is available, this may be an interesting meeting to attend to see how the Planning Commission views the Plan and also to see how they will vote. Note that we were hoping the final plan would have been available on the county website by now. We will have someone at the county on Monday morning who will hopefully be able to pick up a paper copy and also an electronic copy for posting on the Illahee community website, which is www.illaheecommunity.com.

Woods View Decision on Monday. The Illahee Community has been watching the Woods View project proceedings in South Kitsap with a number of Illahee residents attending the various hearings. The County Commissioners will be giving their decision on this project on Monday evening (9/22/08) at 7 pm. They have asked us to stand with them as a sign of support at the meeting. Their website address is www.bccg.org for more information.

Jim Aho

>Miscellaneous Items – 9/8/08

>Tuesday Meeting. The Planning Commission’s public meeting to review the Illahee Community Plan is Tuesday evening, September 9, 2008 in the Commissioners’ Chambers in the County Administration building in Port Orchard.

Meeting Start Time? The meeting begins at 6:30 pm but we are unsure exactly when the Illahee Plan will come up. The county’s website notes the Illahee Plan will be discussed at 7:30 pm. If we find there is a better schedule we will provide another update.

Can’t Make The Meeting? We have been contacted by a number of people who have indicated they cannot make the Planning Commission meeting on Tuesday for a variety of reasons and have asked us if they should send an email to the Planning Commission. We asked the question and presume the best way is to email our county planner, Katrina Knutson, to indicate your support of the Plan. Her email address is KKnutson@co.kitsap.wa.us.

Gilberton Creek Culvert Progress. There has been significant progress with the Gilberton Creek culvert replacement at the Gilberton Creek washout along Illahee Road. Last week the first half of the culvert was installed, and we presume the other half is being installed today, Monday.

Illahee Creek Culvert Cleanout. The County has been working to cleanout the Illahee Creek culvert that nearly filled up during the December 3, 2007 storm. They are also cleaning out the stream channel that filled up with sediment and created stream passage issues for fish. The hopes are that this will prevent a washout of the culvert once the winter storms begin.

Illahee Creek Salmon. The County has encountered a relatively large number of salmon inhabiting Illahee Creek and are moving them around their work areas to the lower part of the creek. We looked at one of the salmon fry and thought is was a chum salmon, but after talking with fisheries biologists believe they are coho salmon getting ready to go to the salt water after spending nearly a year in the stream.

Jim Aho