PRESS ROOM

January 23, 2017

Best in state: Gold award Unique or innovative applications Otak

In the late 1800s, the Northern Pacific Railway’s South Bend Branch line was built to connect Chehalis and South Bend. The line allowed the delivery of lumber and farm products to the rest of the country. In 1993 as railroad commerce died out in the area, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission bought the railroad and converted the route into Willapa Hills State Park. The park includes numerous stream and river crossings, including the two largest over the Chehalis River — at Spooner and at Dryad — about nine miles apart. In 2007, a devastating flood completely destroyed the two trestles, sending the center steel truss spans downriver. Ultimately, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved funding to replace both bridges.

September 07, 2016

Maury Island Pier being Removed to Protect Puget Sound Marine Life

VASHON ISLAND, Wash. - Crews from King County Parks and the State Department of Natural Resources began removing an derelict pier on Maury Island this week. Officials said the pier is treated with creosote, a chemical that can seep into the water as the pier ages. That chemical is known to kill herring eggs, a fish that's a staple for salmon and migrating birds. DNR officials said removing the pier's 150 pilings and other structures will improve vital shoreline habitat in the 275-acre natural area on Maury Island. The area is home to endangered species like orcas, Chinook salmon and bull trout. They said the project will also help their goal to restore the health of Puget Sound.

July 26, 2016

Repairs to Pioneer Road begin

Work began Monday on Pioneer Boulevard near Fairfield Street in Aberdeen to shore up a portion of the curvy road after a slide washed it out early last winter. “The road has been out of service for six months but now we’re going forward,” Public Works Director Rick Sangder said. Though only a portion of roadway was actually washed out, Sangder explained continuing to allow people to drive over it at all “would have made the roadway unstable.” Adding to the lengthy closure was the road not being busy enough to be considered a collector or arterial street, which meant no Federal Emergency Management or other emergency money was available to Aberdeen to repair Pioneer, even though winter weather caused the washout, said Sangder. So the city will foot the $113,000 price tag.

June 09, 2016

New bridges open access to 23-mile-long Willapa Hills Trail

The Willapa Hills Trail keeps getting better — and longer. It’s now possible to ride a bicycle or even walk the trail for 23 miles from Chehalis to Pe Ell without getting stopped by a washed-out bridge. That doesn’t mean it’s advisable to ride the whole thing in one sweaty outing. In fact, a couple of miles I rode this week are rather boring. But there are several nice sections to the trail, and plenty of options for choosing a distance that suits your energy level. The State Parks Commission will hold a public dedication to several new bridges on the trail at 10 a.m. June 18 in Adna. On June 25, the Willapa Hills Fat Tire Ride and Festival will celebrate the recent trail work. But any day with decent weather is a good time to explore the trail, which is about an hour’s drive from Kelso. Walkers and pedalers follow the route of a Northern Paci‐c rail line built around 1892 to serve busy sawmills and communities such as Dryad and Doty that back in the day had many more residents than live there now. These days, however, you’ll see many more sheep and cows than people along the trail.