Swinomish Channel

The Swinomish Channel separates Fidalgo Island from the Skagit County mainland.

The state Department of Ecology is taking public comment on plans to dredge the Swinomish Channel.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposes dredging up to 400,000 cubic yards of sediment from the channel — which separates Fidalgo Island from the mainland of Skagit County — every four to six years through 2033.

The last time the channel was dredged was in 2014, Dallas Edwards of the corps’ Seattle District said.

Ecology is responsible for issuing permits for those types of projects under the federal Clean Water Act and the Coastal Zone Management Act.

Commercial, recreational and tribal boats use the channel for travel, and the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community also fishes in the channel.

Sediment from the Skagit River delta south of the channel and Padilla Bay to the north builds up in the 11-mile channel, according to the corps’ permit application. In order to maintain safe passage for all boats during all tide levels, the Swinomish Channel must occasionally be dredged.

The dredging proposed by the corps would be done between mid-July and mid-February to avoid impacting wildlife, including threatened chinook salmon, and could take up to 150 days each time it is done. The permit would authorize dredging through 2033.

The corps plans to dispose of dredged material either in Rosario Strait northwest of Anacortes’ Washington Park or Port Gardner west of Everett, according to the permit application.

Ecology is accepting public comment on the proposal through May 1.

Comments can be sent to ecyrefedpermits@ecy.wa.gov or to Department of Ecology – SEA Program, Attn: Federal Permit Coordinator, P.O. Box 47600, Olympia, 98504.

More information is available online at ecology.wa.gov/401-and-CZM-public-notices.nor.

— Reporter Kimberly Cauvel: 360-416-2199, kcauvel@skagitpublishing.com, Twitter: @Kimberly_SVH, Facebook.com/bykimberlycauvel

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