Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Port of Tacoma Planning for Marine Habitat

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Tacoma Commission on July 17 voted to approve a plan that would create an aquatic fish and bird nursery at the same time it renovates one of its terminals.

During its most recent meeting, the Board agreed to spend $595,000 to develop what’s being called the Saltchuk Aquatic Mitigation Site, which would be built in phases from dredged materials coming from waste materials from the Terminal 4 renovation project.

The nursery would house salmon and shorebirds at the mouth of the Hylebos Waterway, along Marine View Drive.

In 2005, the Port of Tacoma bought 17 acres in the area, which was once home to a neighborhood of former fisherman’s cottages. Over the past nine years, the port has been negotiating with homeowners to buy the homes so that they can be demolished to make way for the aquatic habitat project.

Saltchuk would be constructed in phases over time from beneficial use of suitable dredged materials obtained from various future dredging or shoreline cutback projects, according to port CEO John Wolfe. The site would become part of the port’s future umbrella mitigation bank, and credits from that bank would be used to compensate for future unavoidable habitat impacts from port projects.

Although an expenditure of $595,000 was approved, the total estimated cost of the preliminary design stage for the project is $745,000, according to the port. The remainder of the funding is expected to be requested during the port’s 2015 budget process. The Port Commission is expected to be updated on the project in March 2015.