Grant will alllow Auburn to complete Fenster levee setback project

Thanks to a grant from the King Conservation District, the City of Auburn has money in hand to complete the second and final phase of the Fenster levee setback project.

The $200,000 grant will allow workers to rebuild 880 feet of the river levee on the north 4.5-acre portion of the City's Fenster Nature Park property on the west side of the Green River. The effect will be to locate the levee farther away from the river, reconnecting the river to its natural floodplain.

"It's setting the levee back so that when we have high river flow, the salmon aren't just pushed down river, they're able to go and rest a bit and to eat," said Auburn City Councilman Bill Peloza.

Council members on Monday adopted a resolution authorizing execution of the grant agreement with KCD and acceptance of money for the design, permitting and construction of the project.

Auburn will use these funds, plus $304,103 that the state Salmon Recovery Funding Board awarded to the project last December and $35,000 in storm funds earmarked for the project. KCD also provided grant funds to the City for acquisition of part of the project site in 2008.

Phase II of the project will create and enhance habitat for young fish that are incubating or rearing in the river, including Chinook salmon and steelhead, which are listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. Likewise, it will increase floodwater storage capacity to help protect downstream landowners during increased river flows.

The setback will complete the work that the City and the County started under Phase 1 of the project on the south portion of the Fenster site, which was completed in 2008. After construction of the levee setback, the City plans to work with the Veteran’s Conservation Corps for replanting, monitoring, and maintenance of the site.

Final design and construction of the project is scheduled to occur in 2011-2012.

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