Your tax dollars at work — dock replacement

We have a dock on Lopez Island. It is old and falling apart due to years of rough weather. It is fully permitted by all state, local, and federal agencies. We want to replace it with exactly the same structure or something more eco-friendly of exactly the same size. It has been in place for more than 40 years.

We are on round 7? 8? of discussions with the various permitting agencies (and there are a lot — San Juan county, Army Corps of Engineers, Washington DNR, National Marine Fisheries Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and several more I am sure I forgot). We are employing an architect, a dock design/construction firm, a permit expeditor, a biological survey firm.

Currently we have to come up with a pile driving plan. Any kind of pile driver disturbs some form of wildlife. If we use a vibratory pile driver, we have to figure out the 120db attenuation distance for the sound, and then come up with a marine mammal (killer whales and stellar sea lions) monitoring plan. If we use a impact hammer pile driver, we have to determine the 150db attenuation distance for the sound, and then come up with a marbled murrelet (which look “darn cute”: but I’ve never seen one) monitoring plan. Oh and of course our construction window is very limited to avoid disturbing the eagle nesting season. And we’ve already cleared the fisheries and seabed vegetation hurdles (tho they could always rise back up!)

This is not an exercise for the faint of heart or for the budget-conscious. You have to be committed!