Natural forces are at work on the Dungeness River, impacting the Olympic Discovery Trail on the west side of the Dungeness River at Railroad Bridge Park, two miles west of downtown Sequim. This section of the trail is owned by Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe and is managed jointly by the Tribe and the Dungeness River Audubon Center.
Erosion of a slope adjacent to the trail began during high water in mid-November, 2009.
Currently, the slope adjacent to the trail has been cordoned off to protect the public and limit the erosion. If you are planning to use this section of the trail, please use caution. The Tribe and River Center are monitoring conditions to determine what repairs need to occur.
Essentially, a side channel on the west side of Dungeness River has had increasing flows due to the wet, warm weather and natural channel changes of the Dungeness. The increased flows have accelerated erosion of the old railroad grade where the Olympic Discovery Trail joins the trestle, causing the stream bed to become dangerously close to the trail.
The Tribe is working hard to identify an immediate solution that will keep the trail open. Because the Tribe also focuses on protecting the Dungeness River and its valuable habitat, any viable solution will also minimize impacts to side channel, which is particularly important for salmon.
In the long term, the River Center Board and Tribal Environmental Planners are in agreement that trestle improvements and an elevated extension to bridge the side channel are needed. This will require additional funding to accomplish the desired project.
For more information, contact the Dungeness River Audubon Center at 360-681-4076.
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