Neighbors wary of marsh project; height of dike a concern

MARYSVILLE Dan Christoffersons family has lived on their homestead for a century and he is keeping a watchful eye on plans to restore 400 acres of marshland next to Sunnyside Boulevard.
A commissioner with Snohomish County Diking District No. 6, Christofferson wasnt able to come to terms with the Tulalip Tribes, who are leading the efforts to flood the Qwuloolt Marsh and restore the natural flow of Snohomish River and Puget Sound water to the former estuary south of town. He and a half-dozen neighbors are concerned about the placement and height of the new dike the Tribes will build to shield their properties from the restored marsh and its waters. It would also have to protect Marysvilles sewage treatment plant and public works center, as well as an industrial business park south of First Street.
I know the city has given them a permit to do some work but there was a lot work to be done before then, Christofferson said.
While he has discussed selling some of this land to the Tribes and is currently in negotiations with Sound Transit to let them buy acreage for wetlands mitigation use, Christofferson still wants to be able to live and farm on the rest of his property. He said the Tribes tried to low-ball him when they were looking to buy some of his 7.5-acre spread, and the transit agency is currently performing tests to see how well the land would work for use as mitigation credits. Five of those acres are on the flood plain and Christofferson wants whoever buys the land to create an acre of fill and a dike high enough to withstand any storms. He wants his water well to be protected from any brackish water, he emphasized.
Im not opposed to their project, dont get me wrong. I want fair value for my land as determined by the Snohomish County assessor, Christofferson said. I feel Im being reasonable.
Sound Transit will turn the property over to the Tribes and their consortium of partners, so for the labor representative the end use will be the same. He and his neighbors arent asking for $150,000 per acre like the Port of Everett is for mitigation credits, he added, but the Tulalip Tribe offered him peanuts for his land. He was puzzled that public agencies can flip or resell mitigation credits but private citizens cant.
Its not that I want to screw anybody, Christofferson said.
Another issue is the height of the dike the Tribes will build. During negotiations Sound Transit wanted to build a dike 14 feet high; Christofferson wanted 17 feet, or five feet above flood stage. Community Transit has been amenable to creating the fill land hes asked for after the Tribes said the city of Marysville wouldnt give a permit for the work.
Sound Transit spokesman Bruce Gray said the credits will be used to offset work on the Burlington Northern Sante Fe main line used by the agency. About four acres of Puget Sound wetlands will be filled in to create the capacity needed for commuter service on the railroad, and Christoffersons land could be turned into marsh to compensate.
This is part of that mitigation, Gray said.

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