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2011 Historical Quotes of the Month

Table of Contents


“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service late in the study asked that flood control drawdown occur earlier than necessary for flood control in order to benefit Baker Lake salmon production. This earlier drawdown would increase power losses and, therefore, would have to be justified by fishery enhancement benefits. No current provision exists in the FPC license for such a project operation change. Because of this and the lack of data on fish production, the Corps study did not evaluate the early drawdown proposal.”

(Source: 3/1975 Public Brochure re Additional Flood Control at Upper Baker Project)

AC Note: Contrast with 6/15/2010 nhc Memorandum: Skagit River Gl Study- Seasonality Assessment of Flood Storage “An Interim Protection Plan (IPP) was introduced in 2004 to improve fish habitat in the Baker River by reducing rapid fluctuations in flow. Under IPP-related project operations, more storage than required would be available in the Baker River project early in the flood control season.”.

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“Apathy concerning flood control is a major hindrance in securing adequate flood control devices and regulations in most flood plains throughout the country.  Communities are reluctant to spend money on flood control projects until flooding does occur. Then there is a chorus of voices haranguing governmental agencies for more protection. After a time this dies down and apathy again replaces action. . . . It must be remembered that in dealing with a powerful entity like a river every action has a reaction.”

(Source: 3/1976 Skagit River Flooding:  An Overview by Skagit County Rural Development Committee)

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“We, as a Board, know that we are sitting on a "Time Bomb" in the Skagit Valley. With the tremendous increase in valuation in this Valley, a "Disaster Flood" of 1917, 1919 or 1931 volume would cost the people untold millions.”

(Source: 7/17/1975 Series of letters re Congressman Meeds inquiry re changes in the deferred to active project list.)

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“The weak right bank levee sections just below Burlington have since been strengthened by local interests so that future floods may be expected to send more water to the downstream levees than in 1921 or 1909. This situation was demonstrated in the November 1949 and February 1951 floods when no breaks occurred between Burlington and Mount Vernon, but levee sections on each of the forks failed.”

(Source: 2/21/1952 Corps of Engineers Report on Survey for Flood Control of Skagit River and Tributaries)

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“In effect, it appears that Skagit County is facing a crisis in their planning not only for maintenance of the existing levee system but for attaining a higher level of flood protection in the valley. We have discussed this matter with representatives of the Washington State Department of Conservation and find that they are in general agreement and that this is a realistic evaluation of the present situation.”

(Source: 8/25/1968 Ltr to County Commissioners fm Corps re Avon Bypass Project ("ABP") and Diversity of Opinions Amongst Local Individuals)

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JULY 2011

“Further detailed planning will then await results of a county election to raise funds necessary to sponsor the project.”

(Source: 9/7/1965 Letter to Congressman Meeds from Major General Jackson Graham, USACOE re Avon Bypass.)

AC Note: The quote of the month is very appropriate considering the last meeting to DC & the last FCZD AC meeting where we learned we are still waiting on funding to get anything done.

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JUNE 2011

“Water is our greatest asset. In that same form, and in the twinkling of an eye, it becomes our greatest enemy. . . . We must disagree because, out of disagreement, the man that has an idea of the right attack must impress this point in a debating situation. He wins his argument because of its factual representation and its truth over an opinion that nay have come from not having the right facts. . . . From an unknown period, likely at the turn of the century, when diking was first commenced for the private landowners' immediate benefit to a group enterprise, up to 1947, the districts and/or their individual landowners and farmers, cooperating together, spent approximately two million three hundred fifty, sixty thousand dollars on the dikes. . . . Since 1943 the State, helping Skagit County and these some odd sixteen diking districts and some twenty-five or so drainage districts, we together have spent a million three hundred thousand dollars, making approximately a total of three million six hundred sixty thousand dollars together during this century on these levees from approximately Sterling Bend at Burlington to the mouth of both forks. . . . "Every man is entitled to his own opinion, but he is not entitled to form it on the basis of wrong acts." . . . We are now at a time here when we must decide, do we continue this ineffectual and inefficient method of maintaining a substandard set of works, or stop that type of a program and improve our worth and net assets by doing something that's comprehensive and lasting and not be faced with this annual fear that these substandard dikes are going to be topped, your home lost.”

(Source: 5/10/1964 Public Hearing Transcript; Corps mtg with Skagit County residents re Improvement Downstream Levees and adding Fisheries and Recreation to Avon ByPass., Greg Hastings, Supervisor of Flood Control, Dept. of Conservation)

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MAY 2011

“Mount Vernon residents clearly remember the date of Feb. 10, 1951. The record book shows that on this date the Skagit River reached a flood flow peak of 150,000 c.f.s. But to Mount Vernon residents and the City of Mount Vernon's officials, the peak flood flow of 150,000 c.f.s. was of no immediate concern through that long night and the following early morning hours of the next day. What our Mount Vernon officials do remember is that the Skagit River filled their banks completely in Mount Vernon and that the flood crest rose until the water level had completely covered our revetment area and was lapping at the gutter line of Main Street at the Myrtle Street intersection.  Another 6 or 9 inches would have required sand-bags to keep the Skagit River from spilling over into our downtown commercial area.  . . .  We think this plan has merit. We think it is reasonable. We think the people of Skagit County have the courage and ability to put it over.”

(Source: 5/10/1964 Public Hearing Transcript; Corps mtg with Skagit County residents re Improvement Downstream Levees and adding Fisheries and Recreation to Avon ByPass., Gwynne D. Legro, Mt. Vernon City Engineer on behalf of Herman I. Hanson, Mayor)

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APRIL 2011

“It is, therefore, to be expected that the peculiar climatic conditions causing major floods will again obtain in this watershed, that the major flood will occur and that any work done in providing for storage of flood waters, or in channel improvement or diking, will not prevent this flood, nor will it avoid the loss of life and property damages resulting from a major flood. Provision for some flood storage and protection should not lead to a feeling of security on the part of the residents of the valley. Arrangements should be made for a system of flood warnings in addition to the protective measures.


“It is therefore recommended... That the Federal Government contribute neither to the cost of power developments as an aid to navigation and/or flood control, nor to the cost of bank protection, because the resulting national benefits would not be sufficient to justify such participation.  ...  For a maximum flood the main effort should be to save human life, and to that end the following places should be abandoned as soon as possible after the knowledge of such an impending flood has been received: All of Hamilton, Lyman, and Bur1ington and the low-lying portions of Concrete, Sedro-Woolley, and Mount Vernon. ... Delay or prohibit entirely diking off the Nookachamps Creek district, us this section acts as a storage reservoir and thus reduces the flood height in the surrounding and lower districts.”

(Source: 5/18/1932 Report on the Skagit River, Corps of Engineers, Seattle District)

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MARCH 2011

“This Avon By-Pass smacks of a typical pork-barrel, patronage, buy-vote deal that is becoming the trade mark of our times. Believe me, people are in rebellion against big-government do-goodism. Our neighbors of both political persuasions are of the same mind.”

(Source: 10/23/1963 Letter to Senator Jackson From G.A. Flanary re Avon By-Pass)

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“Very briefly it may be stated as follows: That this valley suffers very heavy losses from floods at more or less regular intervals; that the people have spent more than a million and a quarter of dollars in the construction and maintenance of dikes and have recently undertaken at considerable expense the collection of discharge and other data necessary for the preparation of a comprehensive scheme of flood relief; that in view of the recognized difficulty and magnitude of the work necessary for flood relief they desire that the United States should undertake it; and that while they are unable to make any exact statement as to the amount of cooperation that, they will furnish, they think that the work they have already done and are doing should be considered as evidence that they will contribute to the full extent of their ability.”

(Source: January 31, 1925 Preliminary Examination of Skagit River With A View To Control Of The Floods)

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“Flood protection from raising of levees alone is not practicable. Such protection would require major raising of approximately 45 miles of existing levees, construction of additional levees, and major relocation of the existing road system adjacent to the present levees. Foundation conditions along the levees would not permit excessive increase in river stages without a threat of blowouts beneath the levees, and levee maintenance would become difficult with increased river stages and resulting higher velocities. Raising the entire levee system would also develop adverse backwater effects and increase the flood damages in Burlington and Sedro-Woolley.”

(Source: October 2, 1962 Letter to Corps North Pacific Division Engineer re: Avon Bypass from Corps Seattle District Engineer)

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