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Salmon endanger Bucklin Hill road project

"Endangered salmon could put the kabosh on plans to widen Bucklin Hill Road over Clear Creek.A recent state Department of Ecology ruling declared the Clear Creek estuary a Category I wetland requiring a 200-300 foot setback for development.It's pretty bizarre. Sarah Suggs (Department of Ecology wetlands specialist) said she didn't want a bridge or roadwork at the Clear Creek estuary area, said Steve Austin, a Silverdale developer.Austin, whose Creekside Plaza project at Clear Creek is jeopardized by the change in wetlands classification, accompanied the team of wetlands specialists and county officials on an Oct. 17 walk-through of the Clear Creek estuary and upstream.Also in the group was the owner of the site for a proposed six-story hotel at Blaine Avenue and Ridgetop Boulevard, which also might be affected by the change in wetlands classification and identification of other potential wetlands not noted in earlier reports.The wetlands classification was reevaluated after the Suquamish Tribe appealed a county decision to designate the property a Category II wetland. That would have required just a 100-foot setback.But the verdict isn't in yet about how the change and its stricter requirements will affect the much-needed road widening project or commercial development, said Darryl Piercy of the county Department of Community Development.Piercy said he didn't know how the reclassification of the estuarine would affect the road widening.Clear Creek is now shown on the Endangered Species Act map. We're at least going to have to look at the effect that would have on any project near the creek, he said.But he added that there was considerable mitigation in the county's plan to widen Bucklin Hill Road east of Silverdale Way where it crosses Clear Creek.County Department of Public Works plans for the road widening included working the construction schedule around the chinook salmon runs in the creek, as well as adding area to the riparian and estuary, said Gary Ekstedt in an earlier interview.The new area will exceed by two and a half times what we're going to basically cover up with the four-lane bridge, sidewalks and bicycle lane, Ekstedt said.Whether or not that's sufficient based on this new listing, I don't know, said Piercy. It's going to take some additional analysis on the county's part, too, before they can move.Although the Department of Ecology ruling could also possibly put an end to Austin's plans for Creekside, there are a couple steps he and the county are taking. We've asked the Army Corps of Engineers to make a call on the upland wetlands ... and area adjoining, said Piercy.Austin is also preparing a habitat management plan, to demonstrate how he can reduce the 200-foot setback and still provide the same level of habitat protection, said Piercy. "

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