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Making a Huge Impact on Wetlands in Western Washington

Making a Huge Impact on Wetlands in Western Washington

When Dean Renner, Washington State Stream Mechanics Engineer in Olympia, announced his retirement in the summer of 2011, the staff didn’t know what they’d do. Renner was a long-time Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) employee with quite a bit of institutional and technical knowledge that could not be easily replaced.

Earth Team Volunteer, Dean Renner doing valuable field work on a Western Washington WRP Easement.

Earth Team Volunteer, Dean Renner doing valuable field work on a Western Washington WRP Easement.

Much to their delight, Renner approached the staff with the request to become an Earth Team volunteer.

“One of the biggest assets to having Dean as an Earth Team volunteer is his background and knowledge of the West Area,” said Molly Dawson, Civil Engineer in Olympia, Wash.

The State Stream Mechanics Engineer position was not backfilled, leaving a void in technical expertise in the state. By volunteering, Renner has helped to keep valuable stream and Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) work moving forward in Western Washington.

Renner continued to provide outstanding technical feedback and design review on projects that he worked on prior to retirement, including:

Pickering WRP – Renner helped to formulate alternatives and provided technical advice on how to proceed. This is an older WRP easement with many technical challenges, including potential offsite impacts. Renner was able to analyze the hydraulics of the site and provided guidance on how to ensure NRCS is meeting resource objectives while minimizing offsite impacts.

GPC/Klingel Wetland WRP - Following installation of a salt marsh estuary restoration, Renner accompanied NRCS staff on a monitoring site visit, one year after construction. His experienced eye pointed out areas within the project that need to be monitored carefully over the next few years. This technical assistance will allow NRCS to work with the landowner to update the Operation and Maintenance (O&M) plan to ensure continued engineering structure integrity and success of the project.

Renner has also taken on a new project, the Dugualla WRP. This is a highly visible WRP site along the Puget Sound that will restore tidal influence to a historic lagoon, involving site regarding, cutting an existing culvert and rerouting the flow through a newly created open channel. The Whidbey Camano Land Trust is also replacing an existing culvert that connects the lagoon (which is the outlet point for the culvert) to the bay with a self-regulating tide (SRT) gate. This will raise the water level in the lagoon. This site has very complex hydrology.

Renner assisted with evaluating the effect the project would have on the ditch that is drained by the culvert to ensure there would be no off-site effects from our work. In the process, he also reviewed some of the hydrology developed by the Whidbey Camano Land Trust design engineer for the SRT work and provided input that allowed them to refine their design.

This analysis and summary was important in determining if and how the WRP work on this site could proceed.

“NRCS- WA is lucky to have Renner as an Earth Team volunteer. Renner provides valuable, institutional and highly specialized expertise to NRCS that has a large impact on multiple WRP easements in the state,” Dawson reiterated.

Renner is integral in keeping these easements functioning properly, and “Helping People Help the Land” in Washington State.