A contract to restore wetlands, riparian corridors, and fish and wildlife habitat within Ballinger Park in the city of Mountlake Terrace, Washington, was awarded by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials, January 10, 2023.
Tunista Construction, LLC of Federal Way, Washington, received the contract award for their $5.498 million bid. The project will create and preserve critical habitat for species of concern (e.g., amphibians) and provide significant habitat for migrating birds and many species of waterfowl on the Pacific Flyway.
“This project has a rare opportunity to create and preserve critical habitat in a rapidly developing urban area,” said Jeff Dillon, USACE Seattle District program manager. “The local community is actively engaged and motivated to move forward with this restoration opportunity. Downstream habitats are the subject of future restoration actions to establish safe long-term connectivity to the site for Endangered Species Act listed fish species.”
The riparian ecosystem restoration plan includes a created wetted creek channel, removing invasive plants, and installing diverse plantings. Additional tasks include replacing a vehicle crossing and adding a pedestrian boardwalk, to ensure access and limit plant damage. Minor enhancements to pond habitat are also planned.
“This project, which was partially funded through a grant from Washington State taxpayers, will create more places for birds, fish, turtles, salamanders, and aquatic mammals to live,” said Laura Reed, city of Mountlake Terrace stormwater manager. “Visitors will be able to interact with a more contemplative park that’s close to home. Collaboration with the Army Corps of Engineers makes habitat restoration possible for over 16 acres of a previous golf course."
The Continuing Authorities Program (CAP) authorizes the Corps to plan, design, and construct small scale projects under existing program authorities from Congress. Local governments, agencies, and tribes seeking assistance may request the Corps to investigate potential water resource issues that may fit a particular authority.
Under CAP Section 206 (Aquatic Habitat Ecosystem Restoration), the Corps can restore and protect aquatic ecosystems and wetland habitats to improve the quality of the environment. Examples of projects include channel modifications and wetland restoration. The maximum federal limit is $10 million per project.
Construction is scheduled to begin summer of 2023 and anticipated to run through spring 2024.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), commonly referred to as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and President Joe Biden signed it into law in November 2021. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers submitted a detailed spend plan to Congress as required by Jan. 14, 2022, 60 days after enactment of the legislation. The projects receiving funding were announced Jan. 19, 2022.
According to the Assistant Secretary for Civil Works’ Policy Guidance on Implementation of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the Act provides $465,000,000 for the Continuing Authorities Program (CAP), which allows USACE to plan, design, and implement water resource projects, on a smaller scale, without additional project specific congressional authorization. This is particularly useful for local governments and agencies needing help with anything from streambank protection to storm and flood damage reduction. Of the $465,000,000 allocated to the CAP, $115,000,000 is specifically for Section 206 projects, at full Federal expense, to restore fish and wildlife passage by removing in-stream barriers, and to provide technical assistance to non-Federal interests carrying out such activities.