Large Woody Debris Still An Issue On Shores Of Lake Chelan
The Chelan County Commission is still wrestling with containment of large woody debris on Lake Chelan .
Commissioner Tiffany Gering is leading an effort to figure out a way to dispose of the debris which builds up on the shoreline.
Gering says she discussed the issue recently with commissioners with both the Chelan PUD and the Chelan Douglas Port Authority.
"It is definitely an issue for people and everyone has an opinion," Gering told fellow commissioners at their Monday morning public discussion. "Chelan PUD was basically 'No, it's not us.'"
At a previous County Commissioner’s meeting, Gering had noted that the PUD started setting aside money to remove debris from the lake in 2005, and that fund had grown to $150,000.
She also said there's a machine in Stehekin that could remove the debris which generally flows into the lake from the Stehekin River.
Monday she said the PUD was not sure who owned the machine, but thought it might be the Forest Service.
Also on Monday, Gering said the large woody debris was coming from three sources, private land owners, The U.S. Parks Service (as the North Cascades National Park includes the northern portion of the lake) and the U.S. Forest Service (as another portion of the lake is part of the Okanogan Wenatchee National Forest).
Complicating the issue is the number of entities that manage Lake Chelan. Gering said those parties include the U.S. Army Corps. Of Engineers, the Coast Guard, the Chelan PUD (which operates the dam at the base of the lake), and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Private business owners and groups like the Manson Parks Service are involved in trying to dispose of the debris.
The state Department of Fish and Wildlife requires permits for any removal of large debris from the lake.
Gering doesn't think the permitting process would work because a permit would be required for every one of the large numbers of property owners along the lake affected by the debris.
She noted Monday that Fish and Wildlife had suggested property owners simply push the woody debris back out into the lake instead of applying for permits. The Department contends the debris would eventually sink and become fish habitat.
Gering was skeptical the debris would sink because of its large size.
She said her next move would be to try and contact the Army Corps. of Engineers about the issue.
“Ultimately, safety on the the lake is their responsibility,” Gering said. “But I don’t know if they do, or have ever done anything like that in the past.”
Gering represents District 3 on the county commission, which includes Lake Chelan.