Photo by Ann McCreary
A section of the new community trail in the Twisp Park partially slid into the Methow River this past spring as a result of erosion during high water.

Town schedules ‘stakeholders’ meeting this week

By Ann McCreary

A short segment of Twisp’s newly constructed community trail in the Twisp Park has partially slipped into the Methow River, a victim of erosion during high water.

Erosion of the river bank beside the park, and further upstream off Highway 20 behind the Community Covenant Church, has Twisp Public Works Director Andrew Denham worried.

“There are two locations in town where the river has eroded at an alarming and accelerating rate,” Denham said. About 100 feet of riverbank has been lost in the last two years near the church at the north end of town. Most of the erosion occurred this past spring, he said.

So far, the only property damage has been to a section of the town trail. The trail was built only last fall after years of planning. But Denham is concerned that if the river continues its erosion near the church, it could threaten a gazebo behind the church, homes along the river, the church itself and possibly Highway 20. 

“Two years ago, that bank was 100 feet further out in the river. There are two homes to the south of the church that would certainly be in jeopardy,” Denham said.

Continued erosion of the riverbank by the town park will risk further damage to the trail and possibly threaten a town sewer main that runs below the park about 300 feet from the river’s edge, Denham said. The erosion last spring moved the bank about 25 feet inland, taking the trail segment with it, he said.

To address the problem before next spring’s high water, Denham has called a meeting of “Methow River erosion stakeholders” this week and invited agency officials and individuals with an interest in the issue.

Participants include representatives of Washington State Department of Transportation, Department of Natural Resources, Department of Ecology, U.S. Corps of Engineers, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Okanogan County, Yakama Nation, Confederated Tribes of the Colville Nation, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Methow Salmon Recovery Foundation, Town of Twisp, as well as several private landowners.

The group is scheduled to meet Thursday (Sept. 6) in Twisp to discuss protecting public safety and the environment, and preventing destruction of infrastructure. The meeting will include a presentation by a fluvial geomorphologist from Inter-Fluve Inc., a company that specializes in investigations, design, and restoration of rivers, lakes and wetlands.

“We need to start a concerned group effort of many agencies to address it [the erosion],” Denham said. “If we did not address it now it would be right on the doorstep of SR20 and the sewer main in the park.”

Denham said he has been consulting over the past two years with specialists from many of the agencies attending this week’s meeting. “This is our first kickoff meeting, bringing all those people together,” he said. “We need to look at the entire reach.”