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Peril and progress at Fort Ward Park

January 19th, 2013 by Tad Sooter

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Park officials are concerned by rapid shoreline erosion at Fort Ward, and it’s easy to see why in this aerial image from Google. The bank has crept unnervingly close to the northwest corner of the barracks, seen in the top left corner of this photo.

The park district says armoring the shoreline would be challenging and very expensive. Moving the building would also cost a bundle and it’s not clear whether the wood-framed structure would survive relocation. Doing nothing is no longer an option however, as winter storms and King Tides continue to eat away at the bank.

“If we’re going to save them, we need a process in place to save them,” park district Executive Director Terry Lande said of the barracks Thursday.

Erosion has laid bare drainage pipes elsewhere in the park. District staff moved trails inland in places to avoid safety hazards.

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The news isn’t all bad at the south island park, which the state transferred to the Bainbridge district in 2011. Parks staff have been busy opening new view corridors along the trail leading south from Pleasant Beach Drive. The sitting area (above) was stripped of blackberries recently (under a city permit) and offers stunning views and easy beach access.

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Park manager Mike Mejia said he hopes clear more brush from along the beach. The district also plotted out a new trail that will run along the top of the bluff between the shoreline and Fort Ward Hill Road. Construction should begin soon.

Meanwhile, volunteers continue to battle English ivy and other invasive plants in the forest. The district hired a herd of goats to speed the effort last summer. An Eagle Scout plans to rebuild the bird watching blinds on the waterfront.

See the park district’s website for information on volunteer opportunities.

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