Kitsap Bangor Wharf Project Gets Environmental Approval (USA)

The state Department of Ecology has issued a key approval, with conditions to offset losses to marine and shoreline habitat, for the U.S. Navy’s proposed second explosives-handling wharf at Naval Base Kitsap Bangor.

The authorization, known as a water quality certification, outlines conditions the Navy must meet to protect water quality as it builds and operates the project. Ecology’s approval is the state’s portion of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) process to issue a federal permit for the project. The certification addresses state concerns over protection of water quality and other natural resources.

The project would cover 6.3 acres of water and tidelands, affecting marine habitat that includes eelgrass and other vegetation, as well as a freshwater wetland. To offset this environmental damage, Ecology will require the Navy to purchase credits through the Hood Canal Coordinating Council’s (HCCC) In-Lieu Fee Program, a new initiative approved last month by Ecology and the Corps.

In-lieu fee (ILF) programs are new to Washington. Local governments, tribes or non-profit organizations may establish the programs, subject to Ecology and Corps approval. ILF programs plan habitat restoration projects to implement with funds from public or private projects that cause functional loss of aquatic habitat.

Applicants must first avoid and minimize habitat losses before proposing to place funds in an ILF program. The amount of funding depends on the amount and degree of aquatic habitat resource losses. Ecology’s water quality certification approves the Navy’s proposal to purchase more than $6.9 million of marine and freshwater debits from HCCC’s ILF program prior to wharf construction.

ILF programs may hold the funds and combine them with ILF funds from other projects, but must start work within three growing seasons after first receiving funds for mitigation.

Ecology’s water quality certification for the Navy project also includes requirements to:

– Protect and monitor water quality during construction,

– Avoid harm to eelgrass beds during construction,

– Provide ongoing eelgrass bed monitoring to detect unanticipated impacts,

– Prevent harm to water quality from facility operations.

Ecology also has issued a determination that the Navy project would comply with Washington’s Coastal Zone Management program. The federal Coastal Zone Management Act requires this determination for federal projects in Washington’s Coastal Zone.


Dredging Today Staff, August 14, 2012