Work began this week on a project to remove an aging bulkhead at Olympia’s Priest Point Park, allowing that 200 feet of shoreline to function naturally again.
In the grand scheme of things, the $125,000 project is a relatively small habitat restoration project among the many designed to improve the shoreline health of Puget Sound.
But it’s an important project, an opportunity to show other landowners that bulkhead removal in some cases can occur without damaging property or property values.
About 80 percent of the Budd Inlet shoreline has been hardened by bulkheads. Over time those beaches with bulkheads can be starved for the small gravel and sand that is critical egg-laying habitat for small bait fish that are an essential link in the marine food chain.
South Sound remains a good testing ground for bulkhead removal projects. It is a subregion of Puget Sound with relatively stable banks, a predominance of low banks and very little wave action to erode the shoreline.
The Priest Point Park bulkhead removal project will create several days of inconvenience to park visitors because the Flora Vista Drive parking lot and the final 200 feet of trail at the north end of the park will be closed temporarily.
However, the benefit of the bulkhead removal project as a demonstration project far outweighs the minor disruption in park use.