2019 continues to be a big year for the Steigerwald Floodplain Restoration Project. We finished project design, and Bonneville Power Administration recently awarded the remaining funds required to construct the project! That’s a huge milestone for this three year construction effort that will reconnect 965 acres of historic floodplain to the Columbia River, improve recreation opportunities at the Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge, and reduce flood risk for public and private property owners.
We will be hosting a project groundbreaking with project partners on September 5, but recent visitors to the Refuge likely have noticed that early preparation work is already underway. Crews have been out the past month prepping 53 acres along Gibbons Creek for planting this winter. That prep work includes mowing and spraying invasive reed canarygrass and disking the ground to break up its root mass. In September, construction begins when we install log habitat structures in the same area. After this winter’s planting, construction will continue in 2020 as we raise SR 14 and construct the portion of the new levee system located north of SR 14. 2021 will be the largest effort yet with the levee realignment, trail construction, and floodplain restoration all occurring April through November.
This is a massive undertaking and it wouldn’t be possible without the commitment and support of our partners. As always, many thanks to the Port of Camas-Washougal, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington State Department of Transportation, Bonneville Power Administration, Friends of the Columbia Gorge, City of Washougal, Washington Department of Ecology, BNSF Railroad, and many others, for making this project a reality.