Harper Estuary project gets started following years of discussion

Excavation started today on a $1.3-million project to reshape and restore Harper Estuary in South Kitsap.

Work began today on access roads for the Harper Estuary restoration project. Photo: Doris Small, WDFW
Heavy equipment begins work today to build access roads for the Harper Estuary restoration project.
Photo: Doris Small, WDFW

It is a project that I’ve been discussing since 2001, when former Harper resident Chuck Hower first introduced me to the idea, a concept that he had been promoting with state and federal officials. (See Kitsap Sun, Feb. 2, 2001.)

Orion Marine Contractors was the successful bidder among six companies that offered bids on the project to remove much of the fill material placed in and around the estuary. The amount of soil to be removed is estimated at more than 15,000 cubic yards, or enough to fill roughly 1,000 dump trucks.

“The work will restore (the estuary) to levels conducive to marsh establishment,” said Doris Small of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. The project will recover a spit, reconnect saltwater to an impounded wetland and remove a bulkhead and old “relic” road that impounds the wetland, she said.

The work is expected to uncover thousands of bricks rejected for one reason or another after they were manufactured at a brick factory that once occupied the site.

With today’s excavation underway, access to the Harper boat launch will soon be cut off until the work is done in January or early February. Since the project involves removing soils from the boat launch area, future uses of that area will be limited. Plans for a new bridge include a pathway for hand-carrying boats to the water. See Water Ways, June 18 as well as Sept. 2.

A new culvert under Southworth Drive improves passage for salmon in Harper Creek. WDFW photo
A new culvert under Southworth Drive improves passage for salmon in Harper Creek. // Photo: WDFW

The first work on the site includes constructing roads that can withstand the many heavy dump trucks that will be moving to and from the site. Some nighttime work is required because of the tides, but the company has committed to limiting the lights and noise as much possible, Doris said. Neighbors will be kept apprised of the activity. No detours are planned during this phase of the work.

The old culvert under Southworth Drive was an impediment to salmon passage. // Photo: WDFW
The old culvert under Southworth Drive was an impediment to salmon passage.
Photo: WDFW

Meanwhile, work has been completed on a new culvert under Southworth Drive, which has been reopened fully to traffic. The culvert is designed to improve the migration of salmon in Harper Creek, and biologists already are reporting at least a half-dozen coho swimming upstream of the culvert. They have also located two redds — the nests of gravel where salmon have laid their eggs — which should contribute to a new generation of coho in Harper Creek.

For information, call Doris at (360) 902-2258 or check these websites for information about the estuary project and the culvert replacement:

2 thoughts on “Harper Estuary project gets started following years of discussion

  1. Thank you for your excellent article. You got everything right…….it doesn’t happen often by people who write articles about our area.

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