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Mariners Cove follows the rules on dredging

Pema Kitaeff of Marine Surveys and Assessments, a private Port Townsend-based environmental firm, demonstrates to Mariners
Pema Kitaeff of Marine Surveys and Assessments, a private Port Townsend-based environmental firm, demonstrates to Mariners' Beach Cove Club residents how to harvest eel grass for transplant Thursday. The homeowners association is planning to dredge its marina and the transplant was one of many state requirements.
— image credit: Justin Burnett / Whidbey News-Times

Today is the last day to submit public comment on a North Whidbey community's dredging project.

The Mariners Beach Cove Club is seeking to dredge a maximum of 4,820 cubic yards of sediment from the channel entrance of its private marina just south of Strawberry Point. The project is under the review of the state Department of Ecology, and the agency is seeking input from the public.

The club is a homeowners association, containing 172 lots, that surrounds a man-made waterway and marina. Open only to residents, the facility has room for about 60 boats of varying size. Currently, about 40 vessels call the marina home.

Located in a tidal drift zone, a sandbar tends to form near the canal entrance. The sediment buildup is so significant that it chokes the entrance and has even led to groundings by passing vessels.

According to the public notice of application, the dredged material will be used for beach nourishment north of the marina entrance.

Club President Jerri Reynolds said the facility has been dredged several times since its creation in 1965. However, rules have become stricter over the years and this is the second time a dredging project had to go through a legal permitting process.

"It used to be, if there was a sandbar in the way you'd just go out on low tide and dig it out," she said.

The homeowners association believes compliance with state and federal laws is important, said Reynolds, and is in the process of updating the aids to navigation that mark the canal entrance.

Members have also been busy fulfilling permit requirements, such as transplanting eel grass out of the dredging area. Eel grass is essential to salmon recovery.

An ecology news release said the work is related to the federal Clean Water Act, the Coastal Zone Management Act, and provisions of state water pollution control laws. The regulatory agency is seeking comment from the public, state and local agencies, tribes, and other interested parties to evaluate possible impacts of the project.

Comments can be mailed to Federal Project Coordinator, PO Box 476002, Olympia WA, 98504 or emailed to ecyrefedpermits@ecy.wa.gov.

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