The Lower Dungeness River Floodplain Restoration and Levee Realignment Project has been a high priority for restoring the floodplain of the Dungeness River since the 1990’s by the Puget Sound Salmon Recovery Plan.
The Dungeness River is the second steepest river in the United States dropping 7300 feet in its 32 mile length. With its 546 miles of streams and tributaries the Dungeness becomes literally a ‘wild river,’ flooding the lower Dungeness area with impunity.
Because of this flooding the river was diked to keep the river within its banks by the Army Corps of Engineers in the 1960’s. At first the dikes worked as they should, carrying the raging waters into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Not so much these days. Like many things that mankind does for the best intentions, the dikes no longer control the flood waters as they used to.
Why? Because the very steepness that brought the flood waters quickly down from the Olympics, bring down silt and gravel in great quanities as well. Decades have past and the deep channel that once had room for those great floods now are filled with silt and gravel.
As the Sequim District 1 Clallam County road supervisor for 8 years before I retired in 2012, I had the ‘opportunity’ to see first hand the destructive force of this river on many occasions. The Ward Road was especially vulnerable to the winter flooding of the Dungeness. Many times in my career at the county I and our crew spent sleepless nights working around the clock to save that road and the homes that were built on the river.
Enter the floodplain restoration plan. Remove the dikes on the eastern side of the channel, relocate them further to the east, and give the river room to move and deposit its silt and gravel in a larger area as it did for millennia. This project with the backing of the Clallam County, WDFW, Jamestown S’Klallam tribe, WSDOT, Dungeness River Management Team, USFWS, and others has moved forward and is now in its engineering stage, with construction starting as soon as next year.
Enter Spirit Vision Films. Working with the county’s Department of Community Development and one of its habitat biologists, Cathy Lear, I am flying Spirit Two over the area to record and document the current status of this river. SVF will be creating several videos of the river prior to starting construction. Over the course of several years I am hopeful that we will continue to document the progress of this project until it is complete. I might even get the opportunity to see from a bird’s eye perspective the new floodplain in action and record the event! In the meantime I am providing a ‘sneak peak’ of some of the video footage we shot a couple days ago at the site of the project in the form of static frame capture.
Hopefully Spirit Vision Films will be part of the Lower Dungeness River Floodplain Restoration project for the next few years! Stay tuned.