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County hires Ala Spit consultant

Restoration work aimed at reducing erosion at Ala Spit begins in 2011. Island County is hiring another consultant to evaluate additional work at the North Whidbey county park. - Justin Burnett / Whidbey News-Times
Restoration work aimed at reducing erosion at Ala Spit begins in 2011. Island County is hiring another consultant to evaluate additional work at the North Whidbey county park.
— image credit: Justin Burnett / Whidbey News-Times

A consultant will begin work soon on a feasibility study that will examine the final phase of restoration at Ala Spit.

The Board of Commissioners unanimously approved Monday a contract with Coastal Geological Services, a Bellingham-based firm that focuses on assessments, restoration, monitoring and coastal management.

The contract, which is not to exceed $28,000, outlines tasks that evaluate options for removing segments of bulkhead, all or part of a rock groin and parking lot alternatives.

While the agreement requires that the study be completed by Dec. 31, construction is funding-dependent and likely won’t begin for some time, according to Jill Wood, environmental health director for Island County Public Health.

“It will be years before work begins,” Wood said. “It will be hard to fast track until we have funding for it.”

Ala Spit is a North Whidbey county park popular with nature walkers and salmon fisherman alike. Health officials have been working to restore the area back to its original condition for several years.

A consultant was hired to perform a complex feasibility study that determined the spit was eroding unnaturally due to the addition of artificial rip-rap. Work to remove the hunks of concrete that littered the beach was completed in 2011.

There have been instances since where sections of the spit appeared to wash out, but Wood said the work has been highly effective. While high tides can temporarily make the spit inaccessible, it is beginning to widen as planned and become more stable, she said.

This second study is being commissioned largely to determine what is needed next. A rock jetty and bulkhead were marked for removal but his will look at the issue more closely.

It could result in a recommendation to move forward with all the work, only some portions or none of it, she said.

“There could be a do-nothing approach here,” Wood said. “It’s going to depend on the (recommended) options.”

Whatever is determined, Wood said the soonest the restoration work could be completed is 2014.

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