$19.9 million dune project nearly under way on Willapa Bay

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is reconstructing a sand dune in Willapa Bay near the Shoalwater Bay Indian Reservation in order to restore flood protection.

The $19.9 million federally-funded dune repair project is designed to provide coastal storm damage protection and is intended to protect the Shoalwater Bay Tribal community.

Crews from the Manson Construction Company of Seattle began staging heavy equipment in the repair area on Tuesday. The dredging and repair is scheduled to start July 27 and last until mid-October.

The work includes dredging approximately 750,000 cubic yards of sand from a “borrow” site providing materials to rebuild a 12,500 foot-long protective berm that was eroded by storms in recent years.

“Three major storms between December 2015 and October 2016 completely destroyed the northern portion of the sand spit and significantly eroded the remaining portion of the dune, threatening the Shoalwater Bay Indian Reservation, including culturally and ecologically significant wetland areas,” said Daryl Downing, the Corps’ project manager.

Impacts to vehicle and marine traffic are expected to be minimal, the Corp of Engineers said. During the construction, portions of the beach will be inaccessible due to the presence of heavy equipment and dredge fill operations.

The dredging and construction will be going on day and night from mid-July to mid-October, and there will be increased ATV traffic traversing the beach during this period.

In addition to flood protection, the project will maintain habitat for the Pacific Coast western snowy plover and streaked horned lark, two bird species federally listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, the Corps says.