Sunday, April 27, 2014

Gravel Pits and Piers

A bit over a year ago there was some legislative stirring in Olympia regarding stream lining of pier projects. The target was the "pit to pier" proposal in Jefferson County (sb5805-pit-to-pier-gravel-and-landslides), a scheme to get gravel from a mine into barges on the north end of Hood Canal for cost effective shipping to demand centers. The scheme involves building a conveyor belt system from a huge gravel deposit to a loading pier to be built on the shore and extending out across tideland to deep water. The project has languished.
The project is not the first "pit to pier" scheme on the shores of Hood Canal. Large gravel terraces are found at numerous locations along the west side of Hood Canal. The deposits were formed within glacial ice margin lakes along the eastern front of the Olympic Mountains during the late stages of the last glacial period (some older ice age deposits are present as well).
These big high quality deposits can readily be seen along Highway 101 with the deposits just north of Brinnon and on the south side of the Hama Hama River being a couple of the better examples.
Hama Hama gravel

Delta gravels at Hama Hama

The Hama Hama deposit is particularly large and there was for a time a proposal to load the gravel onto barges as Hood Canal is located essentially across the street. The project failed to advance, but the gravel remains. A case of high local supply and low local demand versus say urban Seattle with high local demand and very low local supply.

Gravel and rock mining with water access and the associated resource conflicts will likely remain a periodic policy battle ground for generations.   

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