Two concrete footings for a pedestrian bridge on either side of Stevens Creek on the north side of North Cove Park in Lake Stevens. (Isabella Breda / Herald file)

Two concrete footings for a pedestrian bridge on either side of Stevens Creek on the north side of North Cove Park in Lake Stevens. (Isabella Breda / Herald file)

Lake Stevens is still at odds with state over bridge permit

The city has until Sept. 15 to undo site preparation for a pedestrian bridge over Stevens Creek.

LAKE STEVENS — The city’s application for a permit, required to build a pedestrian bridge across Stevens Creek in North Cove Park, has been rejected again.

The city’s first hydraulic project approval permit application — to replace the wooden bridge on the north end of North Cove Park with a new aluminum pedestrian bridge — was rejected in March because it was submitted after Lake Stevens public works crews began work. Crews removed the old wooden bridge and poured new concrete footings on the bank for the new bridge without a permit.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife project approval permits are required for work in or near state waters.

The city’s second permit application, submitted Aug. 10, was rejected because it did not satisfy Fish and Wildlife’s correction request, said Kevin Lee, a habitat biologist.

Stevens Creek — the Lake Stevens outlet channel — is a tributary to Catherine Creek and is recognized as a fish-bearing stream. Coho salmon, a species of concern under the Endangered Species Act, have been known to use the lake and its tributaries for spawning in the late fall.

In April, Fish and Wildlife issued a correction request, asking the city to undo some of the un-permitted work. In the correction request, Fish and Wildlife gave the city until Sept. 15 to obtain a permit and remove the concrete footholds, and re-contour and replant the disturbed stream bank along Lakeshore Drive.

The city’s Aug. 10 application to install the bridge included a memo that said removing and reconstructing the concrete footholds — which were poured without a permit — “would cause more impact to the stream.”

Fish and Wildlife asked the city to perform the corrective action because the original work was un-permitted and Fish and Wildlife didn’t have proper designs from the city, Lee said.

The city said it was a misunderstanding.

“We’ve created some systems to make sure that what we’re doing is in compliance,” said Mayor Brett Gailey. “It was more of a miscommunication issue than a training issue, but I’m a huge advocate for training and making sure we have certified people and professional people.”

Lee said he cannot comment on what happens next if the city does not meet the Sept. 15 deadline, but Fish and Wildlife is working with the city on “how to move forward.”

On Aug. 25, the day after the rejection letter was issued, Gailey said in a statement that the city is working to rectify permitting issues.

The city is currently working toward fulfilling the correction request, officials say.

Last week, the city applied for a shoreline exemption and State Environmental Policy Act review for removal of the abutment and rocks along the banks of the outlet channel. If approved, the city plans to complete the work while dredging over 100 cubic yards of Stevens Creek, starting Sept. 20.

“The goal is to alleviate some flooding that occurs in downtown Lake Stevens,” said Russ Wright, community development director. It’s the first of a series of projects that aim to address flooding in the city.

The dredging project, which is covered by a permit, includes measures to minimize impacts to fish, habitat and water quality, including installing fish screens and relocating all fish prior to starting work, testing the water for turbidity and washing construction material before it enters the water.

The city will also be removing non-native plant species along the stream and replanting with native plants. Wright said if the city receives approval, the entire project should only take a couple of weeks.

The plan was to have two pedestrian bridges, but, for now, the city will abandon plans to place a bridge where the concrete footings were placed, Wright said.

The aluminum bridge — paid for in two installments of over $13,000 — is currently sitting at a city facility.

“The good thing about that bridge is if we decide not to put it in that location we can put it somewhere else,” Gailey said.

Isabella Breda: 425-339-3192; Twitter: @BredaIsabella.

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