160-Acre Purchase = 900-Acre Restoration!

160-Acre Purchase = 900-Acre Restoration!
Walking along the Columbia River at the Steigerwald Shores property, with Crown Point and Vista House in the distance. (photographer: Debbie Asakawa)

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

By Kate McBride
Land Trust Manager

The centerpiece of Friends' Preserve the Wonder campaign is the 160-acre Steigerwald Shores, a three-quarter-mile riverfront property adjacent to Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge.

Acquisition will eliminate future development threats on a property highly visible from Oregon’s Vista House, and will also support the largest habitat restoration project in the history of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.
The Steigerwald Habitat Restoration and Flood Control Project is led by the Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership to reconfigure the Steigerwald levee system to reconnect 912 acres of Columbia River floodplain. This change will increase recreation opportunities and reduce flood risks.
The project will remove 2.2 miles of levee down to the natural bank and breach the levee in four places to reconnect historic floodplain. The failing Gibbons Creek diversion and fish ladder will also be removed, allowing year-round access for salmon and lamprey to the floodplain and Gibbons Creek watershed.
The project also benefits our Gorge Towns to Trails vision, as it will include the addition of two new bridges and will add a half-mile of trail extending east from the current fence-line boundary.

The current levee system has also been a problem for flood control at the Port of Camas-Washougal. Restoration will remove 125 acres of Port and City property from the FEMA flood zone, including a wastewater treatment plant. The Port alone will save up to $100,000 annually in electrical costs to pump flood water, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service will avoid a $4 million costs to replace failing structures at Gibbons Creek.

The total project cost is estimated to be $22 million, with much of the funding coming from Bonneville Power Administration’s salmon restoration funds. In turn, the project will pump $22 million into the Camas-Washougal economy and sustain over 440 family wage jobs. The Estuary Partnership is hopeful construction can begin as soon as 2019.

Accomplishing these goals depends on Friends being able to purchase Steigerwald Shores. Momentum is building for the Preserve the Wonder camapign and we welcome your support.

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