The work, which is expected to begin Wednesday and last five days, will remove a bulkhead at the north end of the park and turn it into a natural shoreline.
Michelle Stevie, a senior program specialist for the city, said the project will restore the shoreline’s natural functions. A bulkhead guards against natural erosion that prevents sediment from nourishing the beach.
That affects habitat for small fish that salmon and other creatures feed on.
The $125,000 project will affect about 200 feet of the shoreline, Stevie said.
“It’s about restoring natural areas and trying to restore functions to Puget Sound,” she said.
The bulkhead dates to an old house that used to be on the property, which was added to the original Priest Point Park, said Linda Oestreich, director of Olympia’s parks department.
Effects on parkgoers will be minimal. The parking lot at Flora Vista Drive will be closed to the public, according to a news release. The trail to the beach will remain open except for the last 200 feet, Stevie said . Construction equipment will be moving in and out.
“It’s just people who are used to a nice quiet stroll might be a little a surprised,” Oestreich said.
According to an email from Stevie:
The City of Olympia is partnering with South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group on the project. The group has expertise with restoration projects.
There is little need for bulkheads in the Puget Sound area. Most of the South Sound has low wave action, relatively stable banks or low banks that make bulkheads unwarranted.
However, about 80 percent of Budd Inlet has “bank armoring,” according to a Thurston Regional Planning Council report.
“Beaches essentially become ‘starved’ and over time the amount of sands and gravels disappears with the natural tidal flows eliminating this essential substrate reducing a once healthy-functional sandy, small gravelly beach to a nearshore of hardpan clay or larger cobbles, thus reducing and eventually eliminating habitat and the species that depend on its productivity,” the report states.