Bulkhead torn out, Cornet Bay beach at Deception Pass State Park enhanced

A long stretch of shoreline has been cordoned off at Cornet Bay in Deception Pass State Park while workers complete a project that will give the beach a more natural look.

Work crews have spent a month removing the creosote-log bulkhead that lines more than 800 feet of shoreline adjacent to a marina, parking area and boat launch on Cornet Bay Road. In its place will be native plants that planners said will give the area a more natural look.

“The last bits are going to come out at the end of the week or early next week,” said Joan Drinkwin, interim director for the Northwest Straits Foundation, one of three agencies working together to change the Cornet Bay beach. Washington State Parks and the Island County Marine Resource Committee are also participating in the project.

An excavator was busy Thursday afternoon removing the bulkhead near the boat launch while workers were busy leveling the beach. Once the wood is removed, workers will sow native plants along the shoreline.

“It will look like a more natural habitat,” Drinkwin said in a Thursday interview.

Officials hope the new beach will improve the insect food sources for juvenile salmon and enhance the survivability of surf smelt eggs, according to a news release from the Northwest Straits Commission.

Jack Hartt, manager of Deception Pass State Park, said visitors will enjoy the changes.

“It was a hindrance to people walking on the beach, Hartt said. He added that a side benefit will also help solve the area’s goose problem when the native plants start to flourish.

Deception Pass State Park at Cornet Bay and Cranberry Lake have had an ongoing problem with geese. The water fowl enjoy the mowed grass because it gives them plenty of room to spot potential predators.

Drinkwin said the bulkhead was installed about 40 years ago and used creosote treated logs. Creosote is a carcinogen that leeches into the water and can pose problems for visitors and wildlife.

Hartt said the bulkhead was originally installed as protection for the parking lot. However, the shape of the new beach along with the help of any woody debris that may wash ashore should provide similar protection.

The project will cost $300,000 to complete and is funded through grant dollars from the Salmon Recovery Funding Board, the United States Department of Fish and Wildlife Coastal Program, the Washington state Department of Natural Resources Aquatic Restoration Program and from the city of Oak Harbor, which provided money to mitigate a recent marina project, Drinkwin said.

Construction is scheduled to wrap up by Oct. 15.


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