County seeks wetland interns

On the search for wetlands, interns from the Island County Planning Department will launch this summer.

On April 18, the Board of Island County Commissioners approved hiring four interns to assist the county in its update of the Critical Areas Ordinance.

These are not the get-the-coffee-and-donuts interns, however. These will be highly specialized people nearing the completion of graduate degrees, Island County Planning Director Phil Bakke said.

The wetlands interns will need knowledge of plants and must be able to identify soil types.

“These will be people who have special training in wetlands delineation,” Bakke said.

One of the other interns will be assisting with the interpretation of GIS maps. Geographic Information Systems offer detailed maps that connect information such as addresses or roads to the surrounding geography. In Island County, critical areas, such as streams and dangerous bluffs can be identified through the detailed maps. The maps are generated by an airplane outfitted with a specialized camera that records the contours of the ground beneath it.

Bakke said the candidate for the GIS intern must have intimate knowledge of a computer program called ArcView, which is a database that connects the information to the geographic information.

The fourth intern will work closely with the agricultural aspect of the update. A knowledge of agriculture and the responsibilities of farming near critical areas is important, Bakke said.

Bakke said that bringing in the interns will be a welcome addition to an over-stretched office.

“In years past, when we’ve had interns in the office, it has added a lot of positive energy,” Bakke said.

The interns were authorized for up to six months, but Bakke said the tasks should take no more than four.

The wetlands interns will be doing site visits to a random sampling of property owners in Island County. The county will be seeking permission from a cross section of property owners to allow the crews access to their properties.

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