Greenway section closes for habitat restoration

Greenway section closes for habitat restoration
YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash.-- Big changes along the Yakima and Naches rivers are now underway. A lot of it targets flooding concerns and restoring the natural habitat for fish. It also means closing part of the Greenway for months.

Work underway for the $1 million Salmon Preservation Project is about more than fish. It affects the location of wildlife, water and the Greenway. Victor Davila walks the Greenway regularly.

"There's a lot of nature, it's nice," he said. "You get to see a lot of cool things."

Victor won't be able to walk the half-mile stretch between Valley Mall Boulevard and the Wastewater Plant for the next three months.

"They're going to miss this portion of the trail this summer, but people are happy we're going to make the spot better," Ryan Anderson, the project engineer said.

The work here is designed to reduce the risk of flooding to the plant and preserve wildlife. That involves increasing a nearby pond by almost 30 acres, moving the Yakima River slightly by adjusting the levee, and elevating the Greenway to be closer to the interstate. A sound barrier being installed will try to limit the highway noise for walkers.

"We're hoping that this part of the trail remains popular or gets more popular as the project's completed," Anderson said.

The first phase to wipe out the flood risk and help the wildlife is to drain all the water. Washington State Fish and Wildlife removed all the fish and relocated them downstream. They used a backpack to detect the fish and shock them so they could be caught.

"We need to rescue all the fish that could be trapped and could die," said Sherrie Duncan, project biologist.

"Nature was here before us, we got to do what we can to try and preserve it as much as we can so whatever we can do," Davila said.

Digging is the next step in a long process that could take up to five years. Later phases include more levee work in conjunction with other projects.

Yakima County is also making big changes to the Yakima and Naches Rivers. Work started today in the Upper Valley on a multi-million dollar project to prevent flooding by moving levees. County officials tell KIMA the first phase alone will take years. People who live in the area know it's necessary.

"Just safety for, there's so many new homes that you know they build and then they don't think about it and then we get a flood or high waters and it washes their backyard out or takes their car down the street," Verne Hippard, who lives near the Yakima River, said.

Money from the state and federal governments are paying for the work.