The largest habitat restoration project ever attempted on the lower Columbia River begins Monday at Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge.
The project, nearly seven years in the making and involving nearly a dozen public agencies and private groups, aims to ease fish passage, mitigate flood risks and boost recreation at the 1,049-acre refuge. It’s expected to take two years to complete, with more than 500 people working at the site, at a more than $25 million price tag.
“We’ve done all the planning we can do, and now it’s really time to get down to work,” said Jason Karnezis, BPA Estuary Program lead. “Support around this project is a good indicator that, ‘Hey, we’re ready to do this,’ and it’s exciting to see this come to fruition.”
This year, crews will begin to slightly raise state Highway 14 above the 500-year flood level. The raise will allow a realignment of a portion of Gibbons Creek, relocation of the refuge parking lot and construction of setback levees to protect surrounding areas from flooding, including the Port of Camas-Washougal.
“The Steigerwald Reconnection Project is a great project which covers a realm of economic and public benefits from environmental, recreation and flood protection,” said David Ripp, the port’s executive officer.