Hood Canal GRP

  • Interim update: April 2024
  • Last full updated: 2017
  • Public Comment: GRPs@ecy.wa.gov

Table of Contents


Site Description

This section provides an overview of the area’s physical features, hydrology, climate and winds, and tide and currents in the Hood Canal GRP planning area, and an oil spill risk assessment in Section 2.6. The Hood Canal planning area covers 704 square miles and is bounded by the Hood Canal Bridge to the north, Quilcene to the west, Seabeck to the east, and Belfair to the south. It includes Squamish Harbor, Thorndyke Bay, Fisherman Harbor, Dabob Bay, Tarboo Bay, Quilcene Bay, Jackson Cove, Pleasant Harbor, Triton Cove, Lilliwaup Bay, Annas Bay, Lynch Cove, Dewatto Bay, Anderson Cove, Frenchman’s Cove, Stavis Bay, Seabeck Bay, Little Beef Harbor, and Big Beef Harbor. Fully or partially, the cities and towns of Port Ludlow, Quilcene, Brinnon, Lilliwaup, Hoodsport, Union, Belfair, Tahuya, Seabeck, and Bangor as well of portions of Water Resource Inventory Areas Kennedy-Goldsborough (WRIA 14), Kitsap (WRIA 15), Quilcene-Snow (WRIA 17), and Skokomish-Dosewallips (WRIA 16). The planning area falls within the boundaries of Kitsap, Jefferson, and Mason counties (Mason County 2012).

Physical Features

Hood Canal and Puget Sound were sculpted by thick and extensive glaciers that advanced south to just beyond Olympia. Glacial sediments (glacial till and outwash) were deposited during the last 2 million years by numerous glacial advances, the most recent of which was around 15,000 years ago. Glaciers covered the area in several thousand feet of ice. As glaciers moved, sediment was transported by the ice and deposited along the way. This created many of the long and narrow hills and lakes we see in the planning area today (WA DNR).

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Many different types of shorelines exist in the planning area, from deep bays to shallow estuaries. Much of the land in the area is rural, rural residential, or conservancy. Six state parks and several boat ramps and marinas can be found throughout the region. Belfair is one of the largest urban areas in Hood Canal; located on the shores of Lynch Cove in the southern part of the planning area. Outside of Belfair, local economies are based primarily on natural resource use. The U.S. Navy maintains one facility in the area; Naval Base Kitsap Bangor (NBK Bangor) (Kitsap County 2010).

The area also contains marine and estuarine waters that are biologically rich and sensitive. A wide diversity of shoreline and marine habitats (estuaries, wetlands, salt marsh) and abundant food resources contribute to making the area home to a wide range of fish and wildlife. The region has nesting colonies for bald eagles and northern spotted owls; a number of marine mammal haulouts and breeding sites; and rearing and feeding habitat for a large variety of marine and anadromous fish (Jefferson County 2008).

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Puget Sound is a complex estuarine system of four major interconnecting basins, three of which have fjord-like characteristics. The principal entrance from the Strait of Juan de Fuca is at the northern end of Admiralty Inlet, with a much smaller connection through Deception Pass. The three major fjord-like basins include the Main Basin, with an entrance sill located at the northern portion of Admiralty Inlet near Port Townsend; Hood Canal, with its entrance sill at the northern end near the location of the Hood Canal floating bridge; and Southern Sound, which is a complex of two large inlets and numerous smaller inlets and connecting channels. The Southern Sound entrance sill is at The Narrows. In each case sill depths are approximately 73 meters (40 fathoms) and basin depths generally are near or exceed 180 meters (100 fathoms). The fourth basin is the Whidbey Basin, comprised of Possession Sound, Port Susan, Saratoga Passage, and Skagit Bay. Deception Pass is the northern terminus of the Whidbey Basin (Encyclopedia of Puget Sound).

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Hood Canal is part of Puget Sound, a complex estuarine system of four major interconnecting basins. The entrance sill for the Hood Canal basin is at the northern end of the planning area, near the Hood Canal Floating Bridge (SR-104).

The waters of Hood Canal flow slowly. On average, it takes two years for one drop of water to move from the floating bridge to Lynch Cove and back. Waves are the dominant driver of coastal processes in Hood Canal. Wave energy transports sediment along most of the Hood Canal shoreline. In many ways, the water quality in the area is good. However, low dissolved oxygen levels and pose problems to fish in Hood Canal especially during the summer and fall.

Portions of Water Resource Inventory Areas Kennedy-Goldsborough (WRIA 14), and Kitsap (WRIA 15), Skokomish-Dosewallips (WRIA 16), and Quilcene-Snow (WRIA 17) fall within the geographic boundaries of this plan.

Kennedy-Goldsborough (WRIA 14): The Kennedy-Goldsborough Watershed consists of the Kennedy, Skookum, Mill/Gosnell, Goldsborough, Johns Creeks and other streams. Annual precipitation in the Kennedy-Goldsborough Watershed ranges from 40 to 80 inches per year. Most of this precipitation arrives during the winter months when water demands are the lowest. During the summer there is little rain, and naturally low stream flows are dependent on groundwater inflow (WA Dept. of Ecology).

Kitsap (WRIA 15): This watershed is situated in southern Puget Sound and comprises all of Kitsap county plus the northeastern part of Mason and the northwestern part of Pierce counties. This watershed is comprised mostly of rural development, but also includes the city of Bremerton and its suburbs. This watershed lacks any major rivers but includes numerous smaller streams. During the summer, there is little rain, so low stream flows are dependent on groundwater inflow (WA Dept. of Ecology).

Skokomish-Dosewallips (WRIA 16): This watershed consists of the Skokomish and Dosewallips Rivers and many tributary creeks and streams. Annual precipitation in the Skokomish-Dosewallips Watershed ranges from 40 to 100 inches per year. Most of this precipitation arrives during the winter months when water demands are the lowest. During the summer, the snowpack is gone, there is little rain, and naturally low stream flows are dependent on groundwater inflow (WA Dept. of Ecology).

Quilcene-Snow (WRIA 17): The Quilcene-Snow Watershed is situated in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains in northwest Washington. It includes the Big Quilcene and Little Quilcene rivers and Snow Creek, which originate in the Olympic Mountains, and various smaller creeks on the Quimper and Toandos peninsulas and in the Chimacum Valley area. Most of this precipitation arrives during the winter months when water demands are the lowest. Little of the Quilcene-Snow watershed benefits from snow pack so during the summer when there is little rain naturally, low stream flows are dependent on groundwater inflow (WA Dept. of Ecology).

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Climate and Winds

The area has a maritime climate with generally mild but wet winters, and dry and warm summers. The climate is influenced by the Pacific Ocean but is sheltered by the Olympic Mountains. Local climate conditions can vary significantly depending on topographic position and season. Average temperatures range from 32° F in January to 78° F in July. Annual precipitation ranges from an average of less than 30 inches on the northern end of the peninsula to 80 inches around Seabeck-Holly. The “rain shadow” effect created by the Olympic Mountains contributes to this geographic variation in precipitation throughout the County. Typically, 80% of the region’s precipitation falls between October and March.

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Winds in this area are generally from the south-southwest as it makes its way around the southern side of the Olympic Mountains. Northwest winds in the upper atmosphere become split by the Olympic Mountains, then re-converge over Puget Sound, causing updrafts. Those updrafts can lead to convection and then rain showers or more active weather in an area known as the Puget Sound Convergence Zone (Encyclopedia of Puget Sound).

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Tides and Currents

The mean tidal range for Hood Canal is from 6.4 to 8.1 feet, and the diurnal tidal range is typically from 9.9 to 12.1 feet. In Hood Canal and Puget Sound, the tidal currents gradually weaken farther into Hood Canal, becoming more variable south of Dabob Bay and the Toandos Peninsula. The currents grow in strength around Sisters Point, southeast of the Tahuya River mouth (NOAA 2014).

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Velocities are negligible in most of Hood Canal, especially in the southern portion of the area. The waters of the canal are sheltered by the relatively narrow confines of the fjord itself.
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Risk Assessment

Hood Canal is plentiful in natural, cultural, and economic resources, all at risk of injury from oil spills. Potential oil spill risks include, but are not limited to, road transportation, rail transportation, waterfront facilities, aircraft, recreational boating, and other oil spill risks. This section briefly discusses these risks in the Hood Canal area (WA Dept. of Ecology 2015).

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Road Systems: Highway 101 (US 101) passes close to shore on the western side of Hood Canal for approximately 36 miles. State highways 106 (SR-106) and SR-300 pass along the southern and eastern ends of the canal. There are many other roadways that see smaller volumes of traffic in other parts of the planning area. Vehicle traffic on roadways pose an oil spill risk in areas where they run adjacent to shorelines, or cross over lakes, rivers, creeks, and ditches that drain into Hood Canal. Oil spilled from a vehicle on a bridge or roadway can drain from hardened surfaces into the water. Commercial trucks can contain hundreds to thousands of gallons of fuel and oil, especially fully loaded tank trucks, and may carry almost any kind of cargo, including hazardous waste or other materials that might injure sensitive resources if spilled. Smaller vehicle accidents pose a risk as well; a risk commensurate to the volume of fuel and oil they carry. Vehicle numbers on state highways typically increase in the summer months as tourists visit and explore the area.

Rail Transportation: Rail companies operate manifest trains in this area. Manifest trains include: up to four locomotives, a mix of non-oil merchandise cars, and one or more 714-barrel (29,998 gallon) capacity USDOT-approved tank cars carrying refined oil products, such as diesel, lubrication oil, or gasoline. These trains may include emptied tank cars, each with residual quantities of up to 1,800 gallons of oil or other petroleum products. Each train locomotive typically holds a few hundred gallons of engine lubrication oil, plus saddle tanks that each have an approximate capacity of 5,000 gallons of diesel fuel. Manifest trains may also transport biological oils and non-petroleum chemicals.

There are approximately forty miles of Navy and BNSF owned and operated railroad track within the planning area. The rail line enters the area near Belfair and moves north to Naval Base Kitsap (NBK ) Bangor. Rail in the area is primarily used to transport naval supplies to and from naval facilities.

Waterfront Facilities: Naval Base Kitsap Bangor (NBK Bangor) is located on the eastern shore of Hood Canal, near the town of Silverdale. The base’s primary mission is to support and maintain Trident submarines and other vessels homeported or moored at the base. The facility is currently homeport to ten submarines and provides regional administrative and logistical support to naval activities in the Puget Sound area. NBK Bangor has seven piers and one dry dock. Submarines from NBK Bangor conduct tests in Dabob Bay and transit through the area on their way to or from the Pacific Ocean.

Aircraft: There is always a potential for aircraft failures during inbound and outbound flights that could result in fuel releases to water. Two airports are located in the planning area: Bremerton National Airport near the southeastern corner of the planning area and the Apex Airpark to the east, west of Silverdale. Bremerton is the largest airport on the Kitsap Peninsula, but doesn’t maintain or staff a control tower. Apex Airpark is a much smaller facility than Bremerton and sees less air traffic. Both airports are primarily used by recreational or small corporate aircraft.

Recreational Boating: Accidents involving recreational boats and other craft on Hood Canal or local rivers, creeks, or streams could result in spills of a few gallons of fuel to several dozen gallons. Accidents could include a vessel grounding, fire, sinking, or explosion. The unintentional discharge of oily bilge waste is also a concern and could impact sensitive resources in the planning area if released.

Other Oil Spill Risks: Other potential oil spill risks include fuel storage areas (including waste oil storage), road run-off during rain events, on-shore or near shore activities where heavy equipment is being operated or stored, and the migration of spilled oil through soil on lands adjacent to Hood Canal or the river and streams that drain into it.

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Resources at Risk

This section provides a summary of natural, cultural, and economic resources at risk in the planning area. It provides general information on habitat, fish, and wildlife resources, and locations in the area where sensitive natural resource concerns exist. It offers a summary of cultural resources that include fundamental procedures for the discovery of cultural artifacts and human skeletal remains. General information about flight restrictions, wildlife deterrence, and oiled wildlife can be found near the end of this section. A list of economic resources in the area is provided in the section’s appendix.

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This chapter is purposely broad in scope and should not be considered comprehensive. Some of the sensitive resources described in this chapter cannot be addressed in Section 4 (Response Strategies and Priorities) because it’s not possible to conduct effective response activities in these locations. Additional information from private organizations or federal, state, tribal, and local government agencies should also be sought during spills.

This material is presented with enough detail to give general information about the area during the first phase of a spill response. During an actual incident, more information about resources at risk will be available from the Environmental Unit in the Planning Section.

The information provided in this chapter can be used in:

  • Assisting the Environmental Unit (EU) and Operations in developing additional response strategies beyond those found in Section 4.
  • Providing resource-at-risk “context” to responders, clean-up workers, and others during the initial phase of a spill response in the GRP area.
  • Briefing responders and incident command staff that may be unfamiliar with sensitive resource concerns in the GRP area.
  • Providing background information for personnel involved in media presentations and public outreach during a spill incident.

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Natural Resources at Risk – Summary

Most biological communities are susceptible to the effects of oil spills. Plant communities on land, aquatic plants; microscopic plants and animals; and larger animals, such as fish, amphibians and reptiles, birds, mammals, and a wide variety of invertebrates, are all potentially at risk from smothering, acute toxicity, and/or the chronic long-term effects that may result from being exposed to spilled oil.

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The Hood Canal area includes a wide variety of marine/aquatic, riparian, and upland habitats. The area provides habitat to all of Washington’s anadromous salmonid species and affords a variety of habitat to many bird species as well. These varied habitats support a complex diversity of wildlife species, including large and small mammals; passerine (song) birds, raptors, upland birds, and waterfowl; reptiles; and amphibians. Some species are resident throughout the year; while others are migratory either within the basin or, in many cases, seasonally migrate outside the basin. Many wildlife species found in this area are classified as threatened, endangered, sensitive, or candidate for listing under the Federal Endangered Species Act or Washington State guidelines.

Classification types are listed below, with the abbreviation of each type provided in the brackets (to the right of the classification):

  • Federal Endangered (FE)
  • Federal Threatened (FT)
  • Federal Candidate (FC)
  • State Endangered (SE)
  • State Threatened (ST)
  • State Sensitive (SS)

Sensitive species that may occur within this area, at some time of year, include the following federal- and state-listed species:


  • Common loon [SS]
  • Marbled murrelet [FT/ST]
  • Northern spotted owl [FT/SE]
  • Yellow-billed cuckoo [FT]*


  • Fisher [FC/SE]*
  • Gray whale [SS]


  • Bull trout [FT]
  • Chinook salmon [FT]
  • Chum salmon [FT]
  • Bocaccio rockfish [FE]
  • Yellow eye rockfish [FT]
  • Steelhead [FT]


  • Whitebark pine [FC]
  • Golden paintbrush [FT]

*Unlikely to be directly oiled during a spill incident.

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General Resource Concerns


  • River deltas in this region, such as those at the mouths of the Duckabush, Hamma Hamma, Dosewallips, and Skokomish Rivers, provide a variety of key habitats for fish, shellfish, waterfowl, harbor seals, and other species.
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  • The shallow intertidal and subtidal habitats, sheltered bays and coves throughout the region are critically important rearing areas for juvenile salmon, Dungeness crab, hardshell clams and other fish and shellfish. These habitats are also often important feeding areas for waterfowl, shorebirds, and herons.
  • Eelgrass beds occur in a narrow band throughout much of Hood Canal, with larger beds occurring in more sheltered waters such as Lynch Cove, Annas Bay, and the upper reaches of Dabob Bay. This habitat provides critical nursery areas for juvenile salmonids and other fish and shellfish, as well as feeding habitat for waterfowl.
  • Salt marshes occur in sheltered areas throughout the region and are associated with the larger river deltas. These habitats support a diverse array of fish and wildlife species.
  • The many rivers and streams emptying into Hood Canal along its entire length provide abundant habitat for spawning salmonids. The larger rivers on the west shore of Hood Canal also provide nesting habitat for harlequin ducks. Riparian habitat is commonly used by passerine birds year-round for foraging, and seasonally for nesting.
  • Wetlands in this region range from freshwater emergent, freshwater forested, freshwater ponds and lakes. All wetland types support a diverse array of bird, insect and fish and wildlife species.
  • Human-made structures such as pilings, rock jetties or log rafts may be used as roosting or nesting areas for a variety of birds and raptors and haulout areas for seals.

Fish and Shellfish:

  • Salmonids of all anadromous species use the streams and rivers feeding into Hood Canal as spawning habitat. The juveniles of these species utilize the shallow nearshore areas throughout the area for feeding, rearing and migration.
  • Forage fish spawning occurs throughout the region. Major herring spawning areas are associated with eelgrass habitat from Quilcene Bay south to the Duckabush River and in the area between the cities of Union and Belfair. Mixed surf smelt and sandlance spawning occurs on intertidal beaches in the northern third of the region. Extensive surf smelt spawning also occurs from Union east to Lynch Cove.
  • Diverse subtidal habitats throughout the marine waters of this region support a variety of other marine fish, including cod, hake, rockfish, sole, cabezon, and lingcod.
    • Shellfish, including Dungeness crab, hardshell clams, geoducks, oysters and shrimp are common and distributed throughout the entire region.


  • • Both bald eagles and great blue herons nest in abundance throughout the region and forage in intertidal and nearshore waters.
    • While there are no seabird nesting colonies in Hood Canal, concentrations of marine birds can occur year-round in the northern third of the canal. Marbled murrelets are most commonly found in the northern portion of Hood Canal, including Dabob Bay, and may be found nesting in conifer forests.
    • Though small numbers of shorebirds may be found seasonally throughout the region, the only regular shorebird concentration area occurs in the vicinity of the Skokomish River delta.
    • Waterfowl concentrations may be found seasonally throughout the region, notably in association with the major river deltas and in Quilcene Bay, the Great Bend, and in Lynch Cove.
    • Harbor seal haulouts are scattered throughout the region with the largest concentrations occurring off the mouths of the major rivers.
    • Killer (aka ‘Orca’) whales, specifically the so-called “transient” whales, make occasional forays into Hood Canal. The endangered southern resident killer whales [FE/SE] are not known to enter Hood Canal – although they may be present in the adjacent Admiralty Inlet area (typically during winter months).

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Specific Geographic Areas of Concern – Overview

Northern part of GRP (see Figure 1)

  1. Port Ludlow: Eelgrass and forage fish beach spawning habitats.
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  1. Foulweather Bluff: Two large salt marshes on west side of bluff are important to a variety of fish and wildlife species.
  2. Bywater Bay (Hood Head): Eelgrass, saltmarsh, intertidal mudflat and forage fish beach spawning habitats. Dungeness crab and hardshell clams. Foraging area for herons. Shine Tidelands State Park.
  3. Port Gamble: Eelgrass, intertidal mudflat and forage fish beach spawning habitats. Herring spawning. Salmonid spawning and rearing habitat. Hardshell clams. Small concentrations of marine birds. Tribal lands and resources.
  4. Squamish Harbor: Eelgrass, saltmarsh, intertidal mudflat and forage fish beach spawning habitats. Herring spawning. Hardshell clams. Seasonal waterfowl concentrations.
  5. Thorndyke Bay: Large expanse of sheltered intertidal mudflat and saltmarsh habitats. Juvenile salmonid rearing habitat. Waterfowl concentrations (fall through spring).
  6. Toandos Peninsula: Estuarine and marine wetland. Pacific oysters, geoduck, harshell clams, Dungeness crabs, pandalid shrimp, coastal cutthroat, steelhead, and coho.
  7. Dabob and Quilcene Bays: Eelgrass, intertidal mudflat, saltmarsh and forage fish beach spawning habitats. Herring spawning. Hardshell clams, Dungeness crabs, geoducks, oysters and shrimp. Salmonid spawning and rearing. Seasonal waterfowl concentrations and bald eagle concentrations in Quilcene Bay. Harbor seal haulout areas in both bays.
  8. Dosewallips River and delta: Eelgrass and saltmarsh habitats. Salmonid spawning and rearing habitat. Herring spawning habitat. Dungeness crab, hardshell clams and oysters. Marine bird and waterfowl concentrations. Harbor seal haulout area. Dosewallips State Park.
  9. Duckabush River and delta: Eelgrass and Saltmarsh habitats. Spawning and rearing habitat for salmonids and herring. Dungeness crab, hardshell clams and oysters. Marine bird and waterfowl concentrations. Harbor seal haulout area.
  10. Seabeck Bay: Eelgrass, saltmarsh and intertidal mudflat habitats. Salmonid spawning and rearing habitat. Spawning habitat for herring, surf smelt and sandlance. Hardshell clams, oysters, geoducks and Dungeness crab.
  11. Triton Cove: Estuarine and marine wetland. Hardshell clams, Dungeness crab, oyster beds, and shrimp.

Southern Part of GRP (see Figure 2)

  1. Hamma Hamma River and delta: Eelgrass, saltmarsh and intertidal mudflat habitats. Salmonid spawning and rearing habitat. Dungeness crabs, hardshell clams and oysters. Seasonal waterfowl concentrations. Bald eagle concentrations. Harbor seal haulout area.
  2. DNR-48 (eastern side): Estuarine and marine wetland. Hardshell clams, oyster beds, Dungeness crab, and shrimp.
  3. Eagle Creek: Freshwater forested/shrub and estuarine and marine wetland. Tribally enhanced Pacific oyster and Littleneck clams. Salmonid spawning and rearing habitat. Dungeness crab, and shrimp.
  4. Lilliwaup Creek: Eelgrass, saltmarsh and intertidal mudflat habitats. Salmonid spawning and rearing habitat. Hardshell clams.
  5. Dewatto Bay: Eelgrass, saltmarsh and intertidal mudflat habitats. Salmonid spawning and rearing habitat. Hardshell clams. Great blue heron nesting and foraging area. Tribally enhanced Pacific oysters and Littleneck clams.
  6. Hoodsport: Estuarine and marine wetland. Pacific oysters, hatchery and restoration efforts. Salmonid and forage fish spawning and rearing habitat. Dungeness crab, geoduck, and shrimp.
  7. Rendsland Creek: Estuarine and marine wetland. Extensive Pacific oyster beds. Salmonid and forage fish spawning and rearing habitat. Dungeness crab, geoduck, and shrimp.
  8. Skokomish River and delta: Eelgrass, saltmarsh and intertidal mudflat habitats. Salmonid spawning and rearing habitat. Dungeness crab and hardshell clams. Seasonal waterfowl and shorebird concentrations. Harbor seal haulout area. Tribal lands and resources. Potlatch State Park.
  9. Tahuya: Estuarine and marine wetland. Salmonid and forage fish spawning and rearing habitat. Oyster beds, geoduck, and Dungeness crab.
  10. Twanoh State Park to Lynch Cove: Eelgrass, saltmarsh, intertidal mudflat and forage fish spawning beach habitats. Salmonid spawning and rearing. Extensive herring and surf smelt spawning. Extensive habitat for Dungeness crab. Large seasonal waterfowl concentrations. Harbor seal haulout sites. Twanoh and Belfair State Parks.

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Specific Geographic Areas of Concern – Maps and Descriptions

Figure 1: Specific Geographic Areas of Concern for northern Hood Canal GRP.

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Figure 2: Specific Geographic Areas of Concern for southern Hood Canal GRP.

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Cultural Resources at Risk – Summary

Culturally significant resources are present within the planning area. Information regarding the type and location of cultural resources is maintained by the Washington Department of Archeology and Historic Preservation (WDAHP). This sensitive information is made available to the Washington Department of Ecology for oil spill preparedness and response planning. The Tribal Historic Preservation Offices (THPOs) or Cultural Resource Departments of local tribes (see Table 6-1) may also be able to provide information on cultural resources at risk in the area and should be contacted, along with WDAHP, through normal trustee notification processes when significant oil spills, or smaller spills above reportable thresholds, occur in the area.

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During a spill response, after the Unified Command is established, information related to specific archeological concerns will be coordinated through the Environmental Unit. In order to ensure that tactical response strategies do not inadvertently harm culturally sensitive sites, WDAHP should be consulted before disturbing any soil or sediment during a response action. WDAHP and/or the Tribal governments may assign a person, or provide a list of professional archeologists that can be contracted to monitor response activities and cleanup operations for the protection of cultural resources. Due to the sensitive nature of such information, details regarding the location and type of cultural resources present are not included in this document.

Table 6-1: HC-GRP Cultural Resources Contacts

Contact Phone Email
Washington Dept. of Archaeology and Historic Preservation (360) 586-3080 Rob.Whitlam@dahp.wa.gov
Muckleshoot Tribe, Archaeologist (253) 876-3272 laura.murphy@muckleshoot.nsn.us
Nisqually Tribe, THPO (360) 456-5221 x2180 wall.jackie@nisqually-nsn.gov
Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe (360) 297-6288 joshw@pgst.nsn.us
Puyallup Tribe of Indians (253) 573-7986 brandon.reynon@puyalluptribe.com
Samish Nation, THPO (360) 293-6404 x126 jferry@samishtribe.nsn.us
Skokomish Tribe, THPO (360) 426-4232 x2015 shlanay1@skokomish.org
Squaxin Island Tribe, THPO (360) 423-3850 rfoster@squaxin.us
Suquamish Tribe, THPO (360) 394-8529 dlewarch@suquamish.nsn.us

Discovery of Human Skeletal Remains

Any human remains, burial sites, or burial-related materials that are discovered during a spill response must be treated with respect at all times (photographing human remains is prohibited to all except the appropriate authorities). Refer to Section 9403 of the Northwest Area Contingency Plan for National Historic Preservation Act Compliance Guidelines during an emergency response.

Procedures for the Discovery of Cultural Resources

If any person monitoring work activities or involved in spill response believes that they have encountered cultural resources, all work must be stopped immediately and the Incident Commander and Cultural Resource Specialist notified. The area of work stoppage must be adequate to provide for the security, protection, and integrity of the material or artifact(s) discovered.

Prehistoric Cultural Resources: (May include, but are not limited to, any of the following items):

  • Lithic debitage (stone chips and other tool-making byproducts)
  • Flaked or ground stone tools
  • Exotic rock, minerals, or quarries
  • Concentrations of organically stained sediments, charcoal, or ash
  • Fire-modified rock
  • Rock alignments or rock structures
  • Bone (burned, modified, or in association with other bone, artifacts, or features)
  • Shell or shell fragments
  • Petroglyphs and pictographs
  • Fish weirs, fish traps, and prehistoric water craft
  • Culturally modified trees
  • Physical locations or features (traditional cultural properties)

Historic Cultural Material: (May include any of the following items over 50 years old):

  • Bottles, or other glass
  • Cans
  • Ceramics
  • Milled wood, brick, concrete, metal, or other building material
  • Trash dumps
  • Homesteads, building remains
  • Logging, mining, or railroad features
  • Piers, wharves, docks, bridges, dams, or shipwrecks

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Economic Resources at Risk – Summary

Socio-economic sensitive resources are facilities or locations that rely on a body of water to be economically viable. Because of their location, they could be severely impacted if an oil spill were to occur. Economically sensitive resources are separated into three categories: critical infrastructure, water dependent commercial areas, and water dependent recreation areas. Appendix 6A of this section provides a list of economic resources for this planning area.

General Information

Flight restriction zones: Flight restriction zones may be recommended by the Environmental Unit (Planning Section) for the purpose of minimizing disturbance that could result in injury to wildlife during an oil spill. By keeping a safe distance or altitude from identified sensitive areas, pilots can minimize the risk of aircraft/bird collisions, prevent the accidental hazing of wildlife into oiled areas, and avoid causing the abandonment of nests.

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Implementation of Flight Restriction Zones will take place within the Air Operations Branch (Operations Section) after a Unified Command is formed. The Planning Section’s Environmental Unit will work with the Air Ops Branch Director to resolve any potential conflicts with flight activities that are essential to the spill response effort. Typically, the area within a 1,500-foot radius and below 1,000 feet in altitude is restricted to flying in areas that have been identified as sensitive; however, some areas have more restrictive zones. In addition to restrictions associated with wildlife, Tribal authorities may also request notification when overflights are likely to affect culturally sensitive areas within reservations. See Section 9301.3.2 and Section 9301.3.3 of the Northwest Area Contingency Plan for more information on the use of aircraft and helicopters in open water and shoreline responses.

Wildlife Deterrence: After a Unified Command is formed, the Wildlife Branch (Operations Section) in consultation with the appropriate trustee agencies and the Environmental Unit will evaluate wildlife deterrent options for the purpose of keeping un-oiled birds and mammals away from oil during a spill. The “Bird Deterrence Unit” and “Marine Mammal Deterrence Unit” in the Wildlife Branch would participate in operations. Deterrence options might include the use of acoustic or visual deterrent devices, boats, aircraft or other situation-appropriate tools. For more information see the Northwest Wildlife Response Plan (NWACP Section 9310) and Northwest Area Wildlife Deterrence Resources (NWACP Section 9311).

Oiled Wildlife: Attempting to capture oiled wildlife can be hazardous to both the animal and the person attempting the capture. Response personnel should not approach or attempt to recover oiled wildlife. Responders should report their observations of oiled wildlife to the Wildlife Branch so appropriate action can be taken. Information provided should include the location, date, and time of the sighting, and the estimated number and kind of animals observed. Early on in the response, before a Unified Command is established, oiled wildlife sightings should be reported to Washington Emergency Management Division. For more information see the Northwest Wildlife Response Plan (NWACP Section 9310).

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