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Construction planned for Brownsville Highway

To help increase the salmon run this fall, the Port of Brownsville and the Steel Creek Organization for Resource Enhancement (SCORE) volunteer program are joining forces to make some big changes.

Beginning Monday, Aug. 20 until Friday, Sept. 28, Brownsville Highway near Glud’s Pond will be closed for road crews to replace two culverts running under the highway. The scope of the project is to reconstruct the Steele Creek steam channel to eliminate barriers and increase fish passage.

The Port of Brownsville was one of the largest supporters, pledging $50,000 toward the project, next to SCORE which donated $10,000.

“(The project) is for a good cause,” said Port of Brownsville Port Manager Jerry Rowland. “I can’t say enough about about salmon restoration ... it’s a great thing.”

Prior to the construction project, Rowland said volunteers from SCORE would have to carry the salmon across the street to place them in the culvert. Since 1996, SCORE has been transporting adult Chinook, coho and chum salmon on the South Fork of Steele Creek from the culvert to the stream bed so they could make the distance to continue upstream. The transporting has been done under the guidance of the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Ron Ross, a volunteer with SCORE, said they hand-carried the fish until the state granted permission for them to put in a fish trap to more efficiently help them upstream.

“They kept extensive records on the type and numbers of fish (they transported) ... I don’t know of any other volunteer program that has gotten as involved as they have,” Rowland said.

The project will include re-grading the stream bed and replacing both culverts that run under the Brownsville Highway. Determined by the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, the two culverts needing replacement are presenting a complete barrier, hindering chum and coho salmon runs as well as sea-run cutthroat trout.

“What they’re doing is lowering and grading the upstream stream bed to make it work with the downstream stream bed,” Rowland added. “It’s a great use of our resources to help these people.”

The project is slated to be completed by the salmon run in the fall. Although the closures of the highway will create headaches for drivers, Rowland said the Brownsville Marina will be accessible via Illahee or Paulson roads.

“(The construction) will totally resolve the bypass issue,” Ross said. “It’s getting done so that’s a benefit ... it’s been a long project but it’s been good.”

The total project costs are estimated at $1.6 million. The Salmon Recovery Funding Board will pay $830,000 to the project, Kitsap County Public Works is paying $752,000 toward the project.

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