There are errors and omissions in the summary posted below. The outboard association is slanted toward the lake remaining a lake. But this issue has many details, and it’s easy to be misinformed. DERT understands how easy it is to get it wrong.
Regardless, the fact that the Seattle Outboard Association is willing to spend this much ink in their newsletter speaks to how important recreation is / can be in the Capitol Lake area.
So please read this list of corrections first and refer back to it when you’re done reading their summary:
*The estuary advocates did not “gain control”
*Once the estuary is restored there will be many more boating opportunities than there are now.
*We recently prevented HB 1938 from becoming a law, which would have codified the “lake” as a facility, which would have eliminated federal funding / jobs restoring the estuary.
The following is an assortment of notes and news on the state of Capitol Lake and issues affecting it following the lakes closure after invasive non-native snails were discovered in October 2009. Though it may not seem very encouraging, there are some happy elements in these pieces… The snails seem contained, and the estuary advocates weren’t able to gain control, and face organized resistance from the state and citizens.
May 8 - The 1997 committee formed to advise on Capitol Lake management is closed, having spent several years and $1.7 million studying the pros and cons of turning the lake into an estuary. Last year it recommended the estuary option. The ultimate fate of the lake, part of the Capitol Campus, rests with the Legislature. The 2010 budget that axed the committee authorized spending the $50,000 it had leftover to tackle invasive species in the lake.
Supporters of the estuary are Thurston County; the Squaxin Island Tribe; and the state departments of Ecology. Supporters of the lake include Fish and Wildlife, and Natural Resources. The Port of Olympia and Tumwater.
June 30 – A group formed to preserve Capitol Lake called for a public-private partnership to dredge the lake and tackle water-quality problems throughout the Deschutes River watershed.
The Capitol Lake Improvement & Protection Assn counters last year’s recommendation by an advisory group to convert the site to an estuary, and suggest their 50-year action plan to save the lake would be much less expensive than the CLAMP proposal and would keep an iconic piece of the Capitol Campus and downtown Olympia from reverting to a mud flat.
Features of the proposal include dredging of the lake’s north basin in the 2011-13 biennium to keep sediment from spilling into lower Budd Inlet, Dredging 70,000 cubic yards out of lower Budd Inlet in the 2013-15 biennium to create a channel to keep sediment from piling up at private marinas, dredging a hole in the middle of the lake’s north basin to serve as a sediment trap for future dredging and Creating a public-private coordinating board to develop a dredge cost-sharing plan and Deschutes watershed management plan.
July 8 – Scientists found no obvious signs of aquatic beetles introduced into Capitol Lake in 2009 to tackle the remains of a water milfoil infestation first fought with chemicals in 2004. A project scientist noted, after inspecting an area where 12,000 weevil eggs and larvae were released, that doesn’t mean they’re gone from the lake.
The scientist said the weevils are tiny, and noted a need to examine the milfoil under a microscope to check for larvae and weevil damage.
Laboratory tests of milfoil taken from the lake in June detected weevil eggs and adults, and at the same time, the research team found only sparse numbers of milfoil plants in the three-acre lagoon where the weevils were introduced in 2009.
Adult weevils eat the milfoil leaves and stems. And bore into the stem of the plant as larvae, causing the plants to collapse.
The state resorted to the weevils after hand-pulling of the weed failed to curb it in the lagoon in the years after the 2004 herbicide spray.
The three-year, $75,000 project financed primarily by the state Dept.of Ecology was the first large-scale use of milfoil weevils in the state, according to project officials.
July 10 - Aquatic Weevils introduced in Capitol Lake to munch on milfoil are alive and doing their job, according to scientists working on the project. A survey team found viable populations of milfoil eating weevils in the 3-acre lagoon.
The milfoil infestation was seen as scattered and lower in the lagoon area than last year. The weevils, not visually detected in a recent lake survey, were spotted during followup, microscopic inspections of milfoil samples.
Aug 16 - A survey of rivers, lakes and streams within 5 miles of Capitol Lake is under way to learn if the New Zealand mud snail exists in other Thurston County waters Results from the survey sponsored by the Invasive Species Council are expected within a month.
Sept 3 - Department of Fish & Wildlife closes Capitol Lake to all fishing until further notice.The move was prompted by the spread of New Zealand mudsnails, an invasive species in the lake, according to the department. The lake was closed to salmon fishing earlier this year.
Oct 13 – The Dept. of General Administration will ask the 2011 state Legislature for $500,000 to design and secure permits for a dredging project to reduce the risk of flooding in downtown Olympia.
The project to clean out a sediment trap in Capitol Lake’s middle basin would not commit the state to maintaining the lake or close the option to make it an estuary. The 50-year cost for the estuary is estimated at $115 million to $225 million. The lake is pegged at $191 million to $322 million, and a third option to build a wall to turn part of the north basin into a reflective pond with the river on the other side is even more expensive.
Lake supporters appeared more comfortable with the dredging proposal than estuary supporters. The project would remove up to 200,000 cubic yards of sediment, less than 10% of what has accumulated in the lake during the past 60 years.
There has been no dredging in the lake for more than 20 years. The lake capacity is about 40% of what it was when formed in 1951.
Secretary of State Sam Reed supported dredging, noting the state hadn’t done maintenance since 1989.
Oct 19 - The South Sound invasion of the New Zealand mud snail appears confined to Capitol Lake, according to a scientific survey. Lakes and streams within a 5-mile radius of the lake were surveyed at 85 locations with no New Zealand mud snails found.
A Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman declared the survey a sign that the quarantine is working and the infestation is solated to the lake. An Invasive Species Council coordinator added the survey results will help achieve the goal of controlling or eradicating the mud snail infestation in Capitol Lake and protecting the rest of the Puget Sound basin.
In the past year, a team of scientists and lake managers have tried to combat the snail in two ways by a drawdown of the lake during a winter cold snap, and a drawdown to backfill salty Budd Inlet water in efforts to kill the snails. The backflush was not as effective as exposure to freezing weather.
Oct 27 – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is under pressure from Rep. Sam Hunt, and Secretary of State Sam Reed to remove the Deschutes River and Capitol Lake from a study of proposed estuary restoration projects. Two community groups, the Capitol Lake Improvement & Protection Association and Deschutes Estuary Restoration Team, have also weighed in, with CLIPA opposed to the Corps study and DERT in favor of it.
Bernie Hargrave, project manager for the Corps’ Puget Sound Ecosystem Restoration Projects, notes 44 location studies in Puget Sound to restore estuary & nearshore habitat, adding the Corps is committed to looking at all the proposed projects for to be advanced for further study of cost and benefits and is not interested in pulling the plug on the Deschutes study.
The Corps intends to pare down the list of projects for more review in December , but a full review of surviving projects is at least a year away. The Corps involvement in the Puget Sound study is critical because it is the federal agency that would apply for project authorization and funding from Congress.
In a letter to the Corps Seattle District Commander, Rep. Hunt said the lake is part of the Capitol Campus and its fate is the purview of the state Legislature. Hunt added that there is tremendous public support to keep Capitol Lake as a lake, and restore it as functional.
In a similar letter Oct. 5, Reed emphasized that the lake is part of the Capitol Campus and shouldn’t be studied for estuary restoration without a request from the state Capitol Committee, which consists of Reed, Gov. Chris Gregoire, state Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark and Lt. Gov. Brad Owen.