Proposed repairs to storm-damaged sections of the Guemes Channel Trail should have no significant impact on the environment, the Anacortes Planning, Community & Economic Development Department determined on May 30.
The city is now awaiting clearance from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife so it can begin repairing the trail, possibly later this month.
Rip-rap and soil were sucked away from the base and from under portions of the trail during a storm in February, causing areas of the trail to collapse. When it gets the go-ahead, the city will replace the rock and soil and install native plants to stabilize it. According to city Parks and Recreation Director Jonn Lunsford, areas where plants have become established fended off erosion.
“We have found that if we put in native dune grass and it can establish, it helps the trail to withstand the overwash of waves that are part of a storm surge,” Lunsford said.
The parks department keeps trail costs down by harvesting seeds at Ship Harbor for planting along the trail, and much of the planting has been done by community volunteers, including the Anacortes High School Green Club.
Lunsford said funds for current and future trail repairs are included in the department’s maintenance and operations budget. He hasn’t had to turn to the City Council or local nonprofits, such as the Anacortes Parks Foundation, for additional help since he became parks director last year.
“We’re fortunate we’ve been able to budget a little bit each year” for trail repairs and maintenance, he said. In addition, “We have people who fund us with their time in the community. The Anacortes High School Green Club has given us many hours on the trail. Other volunteers have given us many hours on the trail.”
Guemes Channel Trail Project Manager Bob Vaux said he anticipates the repair work will be done from the trail and not on the shore.
“We are in the process of acquiring final authorization on our permits. If all continues to go according to schedule we could begin repairs near the end of the month,” Lunsford wrote in an emailed response to the Anacortes American. “We know this has been a long process and we greatly appreciate the patience the trail users have shown.
“Once the permit process is complete we look forward to making repairs and replanting the areas that were disturbed by the storm. The city has been fortunate to have so many community members volunteer on our replanting efforts on the trial. We look forward to continuing this tradition of environmental stewardship this summer and fall.”
The trail is developed on a former railroad bed and runs from Edwards Way to Lovric’s Marina and Shipyard. Advocates envision a trail that someday extends from Washington Park to the Tommy Thompson Parkway, creating a pedestrian-bicycle route from the northwest end of the city to March’s Point.
Phase 1, from Edwards Way to Lovric’s, was completed in July 2015 at a cost of $990,000. Phase 2, from Edwards Way to Ship Harbor, is estimated to cost $400,000; Phase 3, Washington Park to the state ferry landing, $750,000; Phase 4, Sixth Street, $80,000; Phase 5, Sixth Street to the Tommy Thompson Parkway, $200,000; and Phase 6, Lovric’s to Sixth Street, $2.4 million for right of way acquisition and trail development.
The City of Anacortes has launched a website dedicated to the Guemes Channel Trail, www.cityofanacortes.org/1029/Guemes-Channel-Trail.
Viewers can maps and updates about each phase of the trail as well as documents related to each phase of development.
The nonprofit Anacortes Parks Foundation also has a website devoted to the Guemes Channel Trail: GuemesChannelTrail.com.