Bonneville will fund Columbia River Estuary Study Taskforce (CREST) to improve the surface water connection between Sturgeon Lake and the Columbia River within the existing footprint of Dairy Creek. Sturgeon Lake serves as an important rearing and feeding area for juvenile salmonids, but at present, these fish must travel a distance of 10 to 14 miles to access the lake from the Columbia River. The alterations in Dairy Creek would reduce the travel distance to less than 1 mile. Additionally, the project would increase the amount time that the direct connection is open and accessible to fish from several times a year to almost daily, allowing fish to access the lake more frequently and benefit from the high quality habitat there.
Restoration actions would include: deepening Dairy Creek to improve the connection between Sturgeon Lake and the Columbia River, replacing an undersized culvert with a channel spanning bridge at Reeder Road, controlling invasive plants, and planting native vegetation. The restoration would improve habitat for 13 species of salmon and steelhead listed under the Endangered Species Act, as well as other fish and wildlife species. Links to a location map and conceptual plan are below.
Bonneville analyzed the potential impacts of the proposal as required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). To ensure consideration of potential environmental impacts of the project, Bonneville prepared a supplement analysis to the Columbia Estuary Ecosystem Restoration Program Environmental Assessment (Programmatic Estuary EA). The Programmatic Estuary EA analyzed the environmental impacts anticipated for restoration projects within the Columbia River Estuary, with the intent of streamlining future site-specific project reviews.
The supplement analysis for the Sturgeon Lake project helped determine whether there were substantial changes in the proposed action or significant changes or information relevant to environmental concerns compared to those analyzed in the Programmatic Estuary EA.
As part of the supplement analysis, Bonneville sent letters in March 2018 to potentially affected landowners; Federal, state, and local agencies; Native American tribes; and interest groups. The letter explained the project and requested comments; three comments were received. The comments primarily focused on site access, water movement, and cultural resources, and are addressed in the supplement analysis.
Using the public input and consideration of potential environmental impacts, Bonneville completed the supplement analysis, confirming that the restoration actions of the Sturgeon Lake project are consistent with the Programmatic Estuary EA and that no further NEPA documentation is required. The supplement analysis is available at the link below.