Kennewick Port, Corps Partner On Columbia River Island Habitat Project To Benefit ESA-Listed Salmonids

The Port of Kennewick and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Walla Walla District, have signed a cost share agreement to create a living shoreline, provide benefits for endangered and threatened salmonid species and enhance recreational access to the Columbia River. 

This partnership is an ecosystem restoration effort to develop aquatic and riparian habitat along the Columbia River at Clover Island, a 16-acre man-made island at River Mile 329, in Kennewick, Wash.

Total project cost for the design and implementation of the recommended habitat restoration is estimated to be $4.98 million. The Port of Kennewick is responsible for about 25 percent of the total project cost or about $1.437 million with the federal government picking up the remainder.

The purpose of this project is to improve the aquatic and riparian habitat important to four Endangered Species Act-listed salmonid species (upper Columbia River spring-run chinook salmon, upper Columbia River steelhead, middle Columbia River steelhead, and bull trout), as well as provide benefits to other birds, wildlife, and aquatic species at Clover Island.

Juvenile salmonids are expected to seek the restored shallow water habitat to rest and feed during their rearing and outmigration.

“We are so pleased with this partnership. The Corps is investing more than $3.5 million dollars, and bringing specific expertise in environmental restoration.  Other stakeholders include City of Kennewick, Benton County, Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office, and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation,” said Tim Arntzen, Chief Executive Officer for Port of Kennewick.  “This project is simply the right thing to do.  It’s good for the environment, and it’s good for our community.The shoreline will function better. It will improve the way the island looks and it will expand opportunities for people to enjoy the Columbia River.”

This project was initiated under the Section 1135 authority of the Water Resources Development Act of 1986, which allows the Corps to work with non-federal sponsors to restore ecosystems where projects built by the Corps have contributed to the degradation of the environment. 

Construction of McNary Lock and Dam and (including dam-associated federal levees) filled the natural shallow-water habitat along the shoreline of Clover Island, and removed riparian vegetation.

As the riparian vegetation grows, it is expected to attract food sources (insects) for juvenile salmon to feed, and to provide shade that cools water temperatures along the north shoreline where juvenile salmon will rest and feed as they migrate to the ocean.

“The Walla Walla District is looking forward to working with our partners to implement all the great ideas and hard work that went into this planning effort,” said Bret Walters, Chief of the Planning Branch for the Walla Walla District.  “We are delighted to be part of the team to make Clover Island a better place for fish and people.”

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