Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) has decided to fund the Columbia River Estuary Study Taskforce (CREST) to reconnect the interior of West Sand Island with the tidal hydrology of the estuary, providing aquatic organisms access to high quality, off-channel habitat at the mouth of the Columbia River. Improving access and enhancing the naturally functioning, dynamic wetland system would help to address the key limiting factors for habitat needs of juvenile salmonids and wildlife species in the region. A naturally functioning wetland system would have immediate habitat benefits for a variety of aquatic species, as well as provide habitat areas resilient to a changing climate and a rising sea level. This would be achieved by expanding and enhancing the available intertidal marshplain habitat and creating/protecting a diversity of elevations that can act as transition zones to allow the evolution of intertidal wetlands in the wake of rising sea levels. The goal also involves reestablishing native plant communities and protecting existing coastal grassland/prairie habitat on the island.
The proposed project has three overarching objectives, which are shown below. The bullets below each objective demonstrate what actions would be taken to ensure each objective is met.
Objective 1: Increase wetland habitat capacity
• Expand/enhance natural tidal processes to West Sand Island by removing portions of the existing levee.
• Increase fish ingress/egress to off-channel tidal wetland habitat through the creation of 23 tidal channels.
• Expand total acreage of intertidal wetland areas to increase overall habitat availability for juvenile salmonids and other aquatic species.
• Increase and improve intertidal wetland habitat diversity and function to improve foraging and food web productivity to support wildlife and juvenile salmonids.
• Increase estuarine wetland function through increased nutrient exchange and improved estuarine food web productivity.
Objective 2: Enhance and manage native vegetation communities consistent with the proposed hydrological regime
• Reduce the extent of invasive plant species, specifically terrestrial plant species, on the island through both mechanical removal and herbicide treatment.
• Re-establish native wetland vegetation communities, expand intertidal wetland habitat areas.
• Protect existing coastal grassland/prairie vegetation communities from encroaching invasive plants.
Objective 3: Increase the resilience of tidal habitats on West Sand Island to climate change
• Protect existing areas that may be utilized in providing diverse intertidal habitat as sea-level rises.
• Create new and diverse transition/expansion zones that can be utilized as developing intertidal habitat as sea-level rises through strategic placement of excavated material to create topographical diversity.
• Restore and enhance riparian habitats that may act as a buffer to the effects of climate change.
BPA prepared a Supplement Analysis (SA) following the procedures in DOE’s NEPA Implementing Procedures at 10 CFR 1021 to the Columbia Estuary Ecosystem Restoration Project 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 facilitating and streamlining future site-specific project reviews.
This SA considered project specific impacts within the Columbia River estuary as a result of the West Sand Island Tidal Restoration Project. The SA describes anticipated impacts to fish; hydrology and hydraulics; water quality; geomorphology, soils, and topography; sediment quality; air quality; wildlife; wetlands, floodplains, and vegetation; land use and recreation; cultural resources; socioeconomics; visual resources; noise, hazardous waste, public health, and safety; transportation and infrastructure; and climate change.
BPA did not conduct independent public scoping for this project due to the project’s consistency with the analysis provided in the Programmatic Estuary EA, for which a finding of no significant impact (FONSI) was issued on July 7, 2016.
The schedule for the environmental review was as follows:
NEPA analysis and documentation January 2, 2020 – April 28, 2020
Construction start July 1, 2020
BPA released its supplement analysis for the West Sand Island Tidal Restoration Project. The supplement analysis is available at the link below.
For environmental information, contact:
Zachary Gustafson Toll-free: 800-622-4519
Environmental Protection Specialist Direct line: 503-230-4419
Bonneville Power Administration – ECF-4
PO Box 3621
Portland, Oregon 97208-3621
For project information, contact:
Anne Creason Toll-free: 800-622-4519
Project Manager Direct line: 503-230-3859
PO Box 3621
Portland, Oregon 97208-3621