Harper Estuary

Harper Estuary Restoration Project 

Harper Estuary is a small but significant estuary on Kitsap County’s south-eastern shore. The estuary has important value for fish and wildlife, Tribal treaty resources, recreation, and local history. The Harper Estuary Restoration Project aims to re-establish tidal influence and estuarine habitat. 

Harper Estuary Current Work (December 2023 - September 2026) 

Kitsap County is moving forward with a final design for the SE Olympiad Drive bridge project, which would replace the undersized culvert with a 120-foot bridge. Kitsap County and its consultant team at Otak will be finalizing the design, right-of-way certification, and permitting for the project throughout 2024. 

Construction is planned for the summer of 2025 and potentially 2026.  In-estuary work will be subject to timing limitations by the regulatory agencies to protect sensitive life stages of fish.   


How Can I Participate? 

Community engagement meetings will re-start in early 2024 (anticipated February).


​CURRENT WORK

Current work includes the construction of a new 120-foot bridge over the estuary to replace the undersized 36-inch culvert at Olympiad Drive and restore tidal flows. 


Kitsap County has received funding from the Federal Highway Administration through the WSDOT Local Programs PROTECT program to finalize the design and permitting and to construct the project. The Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act (IIJA)/Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) established the PROTECT program to help make surface transportation more resilient to natural hazards, including climate change, sea level rise, flooding, extreme weather events, and other natural disasters through support of planning activities, resilience improvements, community resilience and evacuation routes and at-risk coastal infrastructure. 


PAST WORK (PHASE ONE)

Phase one work: 

  • Replaced the under-sized culvert on Southworth Drive with a 16-foot wide box culvert; 
  • Removed bricks, contaminated industrial fill, and a concrete bulkhead; 
  • Created a tidal connection to the wetland east of the Olympiad culvert; and 
  • Added large woody debris on a newly shaped spit and installed plants. 

Click for additional Phase One Project Details




 



History of Harper Estuary

The Harper Estuary is a small embayment in southern Kitsap County with a rich local history tied to the native peoples and modern development in the area. Pocket estuaries and salt marshes, like Harper Estuary, are important to the Puget Sound nearshore ecosystem. These habitats are highly productive for fish and wildlife. Shallow protected waters fringed by salt marsh plants provide an abundant food source and refuge for juvenile salmonid and waterfowl species. The Harper Park and Pier are also a focal point for local community recreation and aesthetics. Harper Estuary has been impacted by fill associated with former development activities.  A brick mining and manufacturing facility was built in the southwest portion of the estuary in the early 1900s (approximately where the Harper Park ball field is today). When the factory was abandoned in the 1940s, the buildings were demolished, with much of the material pushed into the estuary, accompanying “clinker” bricks and spillage from barge loading. Bricks associated with the history of Harper Estuary remain visible today.

The estuary’s natural functions have also been impacted by current and historic road fill, along with other fill material for the boat landing. Tidal influence is also restricted by an undersized culvert under SE Olympiad Drive.  Prior to Olympiad Drive, fill and pilings associated with a drawbridge road approach and shoreline road also filled portions of Harper Estuary.

Why Restoration?

The Harper Estuary Barrier Correction is the final phase of restoration and is the culmination of more than a decade of hard work and collaboration by many partners. The Harper Estuary restoration project was selected by the Washington Department of Ecology (DOE) in 2013 for funding through the Natural Resource Damage funds associated with the Cleanup Settlement Account for the ASARCO smelter site in Tacoma.  The restoration project was designed to build on former habitat restoration conceptual planning over the past decade (e.g. PSNERP 2011) and incorporate stakeholder and community outreach input for the final project design. In 2016, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife completed several restoration actions at the site, including the removal of a fill dirt boat launch, reconnection of a tidal wetland, removal of bricks and fill, and replacement of an undersized culvert under SE Southworth Drive, which was a fish passage barrier and a barrier to tidal flows. This site is a priority for restoration because small estuaries like this provide important rearing habitat for juvenile fish species, such as Chinook salmon, serve many other ecosystem functions, and contribute to the health of the community. 


 Harper Community Meetings


Date 
Title 
​Topic 
​April 3, 2020 
​Community Conversation
​March 16, 2020
​​Community Conversation
​​November 21, 2019

​Community Conversation
​​​September 26, 2019
​Community Meeting on the Draft Harper Park Improvement Plan 
​​August 2019
​Draft Harper Park Improvement Plan
​June 2019
​​Community Conversation
​​May 20, 2019
​​Community Conversations
​March 21, 2019
​Community Meeting 
​February 24, 2019
​Walk-Shop Meeting 
​January 30, 2019 
​Community Meeting 

​June 17, 2015

​Community Gathering 

​​April 6, 2015
​Community Gathering


 




 Contact

Department of Community Development
Planning and Environmental Programs

(360) 337-5777  (Kitsap 1) 

kitsap1@kitsap.gov

619 Division Street
Port Orchard, WA