High water flow erodes trail bank

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Natural forces brought a portion of the Olympic Discovery Trail sliding down this past week.

Erosion from high waters in November and January created a landslide on the west side of the Dungeness River at Railroad Bridge Park.

A side channel with increasing flows due to the wet, warm weather and natural channel changes accelerated erosion of the old railroad grade where the Olympic Discovery Trail joins the railroad trestle, causing the stream bed to become dangerously close to the trail.

Bob Boekelheide, Dungeness River Audubon Center director, said the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe, owners of the property, hired Jamestown Excavating Company to fix the trail temporarily.

They installed logs, which he says are considered more watershed friendly than other means such as concrete infrastructure.

"It's a temporary installation and our longterm plan is to extend the trestle another 50 to 100 feet," he said.

For now, the trail is safe for hikers.

"There's no problem now and as long they stay on the trail, they'll be fine," Boekelheide said.

However, he believes similar slides are possible.

"We have had three high water instances this winter. One in November and two in January. The one in November really caused a lot of changes," he said.

To help control erosion, workers with the Washington Conservation Corps worked on Martin Luther King Jr. weekend transplanting Sitka willow trees to along the river bed and around the area.

They used stakes harvested locally from willow thickets to provide a dense root mass that will help stabilize the eroding channel.

For more information on the Olympic Discovery Trail and the Dungeness River Audubon Center, call 681-4076 or visit www.dungenessriver

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