Property owner John Gailey had a problem faced by many local producers Walla Walla County. Access to his fields required fording a waterway, but in his case, it was the Touchet River. The Touchet is impassable during some months of the year and an important fish passage channel year round. Driving his equipment through the river was not only occasionally hazardous, it released contaminants from equipment into the river and dislodged large amounts of sediment from the exposed banks while disturbing the river substrate. Recognizing the resource concern, Gailey came to the District for assistance to install a farm bridge large enough to pass his farm equipment across the river year round.
The Conservation District assisted the landowner by helping him obtain the required state and county permits and providing him with a $50,000 Washington Conservation Commission cost-share grant to help fund the project, which covered about half the construction costs. All the work was completed by Gailey who had prior construction experience. The District helped Gailey through all the regulatory hurdles and the project was completed in 2016. The completed bridge allows Gailey to safely access his fields while staying out of the river, reducing both bank erosion and sediment delivery to the river. Greg Kinsinger, in taking the final report pictures, looked over the side and saw fish swimming placidly below—a fitting image, highlighting the important results of the conservation work of local farmers. Click here to read Gailey Bridge Final Report .