The Army Corps of Engineers and state Department of Fish and Wildlife, under the aegis of the Puget Sound Near Shore Ecosystem Restoration Project, have decided to “de-couple” (not fund) the Deschutes Estuary Restoration Project.
Reasons suggested by three upper level managers at WDFW include: Removing the Fifth Avenue dam at significant public cost runs counter to Corps rules which disallow the undertaking of one project (dam removal) which conflicts with another of its mandates (navigation dredging in Budd Inlet). Ecosystem restoration cost/benefit ratios for the Deschutes estuary restoration are significantly unfavorable when compared to cost/benefit ratios for alternative restoration projects which otherwise might have been undertaken.
This decision has extreme importance. It shows that a federal and state agency have, after due diligence and collaboration, recognized and acknowledged the inappropriateness of using public funds for removing the Fifth Avenue dam. They are essentially stating that, regardless of the influence of a vocal minority, this project is ill-advised on the basis of its economic harm and lack of cost effectiveness regarding ecosystem habitat restoration.
Considering the above and understanding the marked advantages the lake has regarding oxygen generation, nitrogen removal, social cohesiveness, fiscal responsibility, esthetics, historical design, and public opinion, it appears that re-creating the mudflat serves little rational purpose. After decades of delay, our leaders at all levels now have a clear mandate to focus our limited resources on riverine watershed restoration and dredging our lake. Ecosystem cost benefit ratios here are highly favorable.