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Ala Spit salmon restoration

Salmon Recovery Funding Board grants manager Mike Ramsey, right, speaks with Eugene and Barbara Kiver about the restoration of Ala Spit. - Jenny Manning/Whidbey News-Times
Salmon Recovery Funding Board grants manager Mike Ramsey, right, speaks with Eugene and Barbara Kiver about the restoration of Ala Spit.
— image credit: Jenny Manning/Whidbey News-Times

A packed house of curious salmon sympathizers at the Cornet Bay Retreat Saturday listened to a presentation describing the upcoming removal of approximately 800 feet of rock and crushed concrete at Ala Spit.

The project is funded by a $267,538 grant from the state’s Salmon Recovery Funding Board and $47,199 from Island County to cover labor, equipment, materials and resource donations.

The first phase of the project, also funded by the salmon board, encompassed a two-year scientific assessment by Jeff Parsons, a project engineer and geomorphologist with Herrera Environmental

Consultants.

In an effort to map the shoreline history of Ala Spit, Parsons contacted longtime area residents, including Larry Frostad, Evelyne Koetje and Ed Koetje, for their keen historical knowledge of the site.

Parsons also compared recent photographs of the spit with aerial photos taken between 1956 and 1981 to gauge changes in shoreline and sediment development, aquatic and fish habitat, and vegetation, among other area characteristics over the years.

The study found that a riprap revetment - a mixture of concrete chunks and large rocks - installed in the mid-60s, “artificially holds in place the lower one-third of the spit and cuts off the supply of sediment and driftwood to the southern end of the pocket estuary,” Parsons concluded in his study.

Removal of the riprap revetment ( the second phase of the project) is expected to repair fish habitat made vulnerable by erosion caused by the revetment. In turn, this should expand fish spawning habitat and increase the pocket estuary’s complexity of functions, according to a press release.

Dick McGunigal and Eula Palmer, who participated in the Ala Spit litter pickup after the open house presentation, are happy with the proposed changes.

“It’s quite impressive,” Palmer said.

But not everyone in attendance was satisfied with the outcome of the study.

Eugene Kiver, a emeritus geology professor of Eastern Washington University, isn’t entirely pleased with the project.

Kiver thinks more factors should be taken into account before any action is made.

“There’s still a lot of unanswered questions,” he said. “It’s a big system and they are dealing with only one little section.”

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