Moses Lake/Crab Creek GRP

Table of Contents


Site Description

This section provides a description of the area’s physical features, hydrology, climate and winds, and includes an overview of oil spill risks in the Moses Lake / Crab Creek area. The planning area includes all of Moses Lake and Rocky Ford Creek, and 136 miles of Crab Creek extending from the Stratford Road bridge in the city of Moses Lake upstream to the creek’s crossing at State Highway 2 about 2.7 miles west of Reardon. Upstream to downstream, Crab Creek passes through the towns or cities of Odessa, Irby, Krupp, Wilson Creek, Stratford, and Moses Lake. The planning area fully resides within the limits of Grant and Lincoln counties, and includes portions of Water Resource Inventory Area 41 (WRIA-41, Lower Crab), WRIA-42 (Grand Coulee), and WRIA-43 (Upper Crab-Wilson).

Physical Features

Moses Lake and Crab Creek lie within the Channeled Scablands of east-central Washington, a complex of “vein-like” channels, rock basins, broad coarse‑grained alluvial deposits, and loess islands created by a series of cataclysmic Pleistocene mega-floods (Baker 2008). The floods originated from the margins of the Cordilleran Ice Sheet, particularly Lake Missoula in Montana and scoured prominent pathways into the base geology of the Columbia River Basalt Group (Bretz 1927; Baker 1973).  Crab Creek flows through one of these scoured pathways. Grand Coulee is another channel where large volumes of flowing water scoured a channel about 1 mi wide. As the flood waters discharged from Grand Coulee and entered the Quincy basin, a structurally controlled depression in central Washington, flood-entrained sediment dropped from suspension and bed-load, thereby emplacing the alluvial Ephrata Fan. The Ephrata Fan is composed of boulders and larger clasts at its northern extent near Grand Coulee and fines progressively southward from boulders to sands and finer material (Magirl et al 2010).

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Moses Lake is a shallow, elongated-branched lake, approximately 20 miles in total length and 11 square miles in total area with a mean depth of 18.5 feet (Bain 1987). It was formed by the natural damming of the Moses Lake dune field; the dune field formed by eolian reworking of the flood deposits at the distal end of the Ephrata Fan (Bandfield, Edgett, and Christensen 2002). The lake lies in topographically lower channels incised into the southern extent of the Ephrata Fan. It has three major arms; the main arm (also called the Rocky Ford Arm) is located to the north, and Parker and Pelican Horns are to the south, separated by an area known as the Lower Peninsula. Lewis Horn is a smaller embayment located on the northern
side of Parker Horn. Two main surface tributaries drain to the lake: Rocky Ford Creek to the main arm, and Crab Creek into Parker Horn (Pitz 2003).

Crab Creek is a small, perennial creek flowing through the arid and semiarid Columbia Plateau. Between Brook Lake and Moses Lake, the creek follows the eastern edge of the Ephrata Fan, flowing on or adjacent to exposed bedrock as well as over the coarser substrate of the fan. Upstream of Brook Lake, Crab Creek follows an outburst flood coulee flowing over fractured, basaltic bedrock mantled with alluvium.² Some of the surrounding catchment draining into Crab Creek, particularly in the upper watershed, is composed of topographically higher terraces of the Palouse Formation, Quaternary loess deposits that escaped scour and removal by the Lake Missoula floods. Although recruitment of suspended sediment into Crab Creek from the bedrock valley floor and the coarse-grained fan deposits is governed by weathering rates from otherwise immobile surfaces, more fine-grained sediment is presumably supplied by the Palouse Formation uplands when rainfall or snowmelt create runoff (Bain 1987).

Peatlands: Hundreds of acres of peatlands exist along Crab Creek between the towns of Wilson Creek and Krupp/Marlin. They were formed out of the old bottom of Crab Lake, which was drained by a ditch in 1907 (Brigg 1958). The peatlands extend from a point approximately 2-miles west of Krupp/Marlin and continue west along Crab Creek to a location just south of Wilson Creek. Generally, the peatlands are bounded to the north by the BNSF railroad line and to the south by Highway WA-28 and Road 22 NE.

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Moses Lake is shallow with an average depth of 18 ft and a maximum depth of 38 ft under full-pool conditions. The surface area of the lake is 6,800 acres (Magril et al 2010). Surface discharge from Moses Lake is controlled by two dams operated by U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR), both located at the southern end of the lake and used to convey water from the East Low Canal to Potholes Reservoir. The lake surface elevation is manipulated by the USBR throughout the year for irrigation management. Just prior to the irrigation season (normally in mid-March) the lake level is set to an elevation of approximately 1046-1047 feet above mean sea level (AMSL), and remains there throughout the summer. At the end of the irrigation season (typically late October) the lake level is lowered to approximately 1041 feet AMSL to create storage capacity for winter/early spring runoff, and to protect and allow maintenance of shoreline structures (Pitz 2003). Two main surface tributaries drain to Moses Lake: Rocky Ford Creek to the main arm, and Crab Creek into Parker Horn.

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Rocky Ford Creek is one of two natural tributaries to Moses Lake. It is unique as a tributary because of its small watershed size (104 km2) and yet relatively large mean annual flow. The creek has an annual average flow of 78.2 cfs (Cusimano and Ward 1998). The 90th and 10th percentile flows for Rocky Ford Creek are 94 and 46 cfs, respectively. The mean flow for the 2000-01 water year was 57 cfs, nearly a 20th percentile flow for the 1977 to 2001 time period. The flows in Rocky Ford Creek are relatively stable (day to day) and most of the time range between 40 and 100 cfs. There is a slight seasonal variation, with higher flows occurring during the latter half of the year (May – Dec). Rocky Ford Creek originates as a series of springs at the Troutlodge 1 fish hatchery and then flows south from the springs for approximately eight miles, discharging to the north end of the main arm of Moses Lake. The Troutlodge 2 hatchery also uses Rocky Ford Creek about a mile downstream of the headsprings. Most of the flow at the head of Rocky Ford Creek is diverted through both fish hatcheries. Just above the mouth of the creek is a small retention pond created by a dam built in 1987 to retain phosphorus and prevent carp from entering the creek (Carroll 2006).

Crab Creek is the more variable natural tributary to Moses Lake compared to Rocky Ford Creek. Although its watershed area is 2040 square miles, it has a lower annual mean flow to Moses Lake than Rocky Ford. During the summer, much of Crab Creek flow goes underground. Prior to the beginning of the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project (CBIP) in 1952, Crab Creek surface flow was negligible except during periods of heavy winter/spring runoff. Since 1960, the mean annual flow has been 44.5 cfs. However, Crab Creek essentially has two flow regimes (winter and summer). Flow in Crab Creek is highly variable (unpredictable) in January through April, and relatively stable (predictable) from May to December. High flows can occur from January through April and, in some years, large winter/spring runoff events have produced flows greater than the entire annual flow of Rocky Ford Creek. Large winter/spring runoffs (>500 cfs) have occurred during 40% of the last 40 years, with four large events occurring in four successive years in the late 1990s. Between October 2000 and September 2001, there was not a winter/spring runoff event. In fact, the 2000-01 water year flow was the lowest since 1977. There was discontinuous flow below Brook Lake the entire year, until a gradual accumulation of subsurface seepage (and possible irrigation returns) around the Gloyd Seeps area again provided for a small surface flow into Moses Lake. Summer time flows into Moses Lake from Crab Creek initiate from these sub-surface (or return) flows near Gloyd Seeps (Cusimano and Ward 1998). The Rocky Coulee Wasteway is an engineered canal that enters Crab Creek just upstream of Moses Lake. The wasteway primarily carries releases from the East Low Canal with some intermittent natural runoff from Rocky Coulee.

Change in Flow Regime: The Bureau of Reclamation identified Crab Creek and Frenchman Hills Wasteway as the preferred alternative to supply additional water to the South Columbia Basin Irrigation District (SCBID). This alternative releases feed water from Billy Clapp Reservoir through a 4ft by 4ft outlet into Brook Lake, a natural waterbody within the Crab Creek channel. The water is then conveyed down Crab Creek into Moses Lake and the Potholes Reservoir. Water is also released from Billy Clapp Reservoir via the Main Canal and West Canal, into the Frenchman Hills Wasteway, and then into Potholes Reservoir. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) requested an option be included for Crab Creek with occasional higher flows in the spring. To accommodate WDFW’s request and meet the water supply demands of the SCBID the following flow targets were devised: approximately 100cfs of base flow released from Billy Clapp Reservoir year-round with a larger spring feed of up to 500cfs occurring between April 1 and June 30. The spring flow regime is implemented with the input of fish and wildlife agencies. This flow regime lasts no longer than two seasons and is expected to reoccur about every decade. Between cycles, perennial flows are resumed (WA Dept. of Ecology).

Water Resource Inventory Areas (WRIAs): Portions of WRIA 41 (Lower Crab), WRIA-42 (Grand Coulee), and WRIA-43 (Upper Crab-Wilson) fall within the planning area. Most of the precipitation within all three WRIAs 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. This means that groundwater and surface water are least available when water demands are the highest. Only a fraction of the annual precipitation in each area becomes groundwater that’s available for human and economic uses.

WRIA 41 (Lower Crab): The Lower Crab Watershed located in eastern Washington includes the portion of the Crab Creek between Ephrata and its confluence with the Columbia River. In addition, there are numerous tributary creeks and streams of which most are seasonal. Annual precipitation ranges from 7 inches per year in the Beverly area, to somewhat over 10 inches in the higher elevations (WA Dept. of Ecology).

Water Resource Inventory Area 42 (Grand Coulee): The Grand Coulee Watershed located in eastern Washington includes a number of reservoirs, small lakes and streams. The two reservoirs of note are Banks Lake and Billy Clapp Lake. These are used in part as control reservoirs for the Columbia Basin Project and are supplied by water diverted from the Columbia River. In addition, many of the smaller streams and some of the lakes are seasonal. The annual precipitation in the Grand Coulee Watershed ranges from 7 inches per year in the Soap Lake area, to 12 inches in the higher elevations (WA Dept. of Ecology).

Water Resource Inventory Area 43 (Upper Crab-Wilson): The Upper Crab-Wilson Watershed located in eastern Washington includes that portion of the Upper Crab Creek above Stratford and Wilson Creek. In addition, there are numerous tributary creeks and streams of which most are seasonal. The annual precipitation in the Upper Crab-Wilson Watershed ranges from 8 inches per year near Stratford, to 15 inches in the higher elevations (WA Dept. of Ecology).

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Climate and Winds

The Moses Lake/Crab Creek GRP planning area falls within the Central Basin region of Washington, which has the lowest precipitation rates in Washington State. Annual precipitation averages around 7 inches. Precipitation is commonly associated with summer thunderstorms and winter rains and snowfall. Snowfall depths rarely exceed 8 to 15 inches and occur from December through February. High temperatures in January can range from 30F to 40F degrees with low temperatures between 15F to 25F degrees. Summer high temperatures are usually in the lower 90s (F) with low temperatures in the upper 50s (F) (Anchor QEA, LLC 2013). The Central Basin is subject to “chinook” winds which produce a rapid rise in temperature.

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Prevailing winds in the area are predominantly from the north in August through April, and south and south-southwest in May through July (WRCC). Average wind speed at the Moses Lake Airport is 7.3mph. The lightest winds are usually experienced in December at 5.9mph. Winds are typically strongest in May and June with average wind speeds of 8.5 to 8.6mph, respectively (WRCC).

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Tides and Currents

Waters within the Moses Lake/Crab Creek GRP planning area are not influenced by tides or tidal currents.

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Risk Assessment

The Moses Lake/Crab Creek area is plentiful in natural, cultural, and economic resources, all at risk of injury from oil spills. Potential oil spill risks include, but aren’t limited to, road transportation, rail transportation, oil pipelines, aircraft, recreational boating, and other oil spill risks. This section briefly discusses these risks and how they could impact the Moses Lake and the greater GRP planning area.

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Road Transportation: Vehicle traffic on roadways pose an oil spill risk in the area. Commercial trucks can contain hundreds to thousands of gallons of fuel and oil, and almost any kind of hazardous waste or material. An accident involving a fully loaded tank truck on the Interstate-90 Bridge across Moses Lake, or on Highway 17 crossing over Crab Creek or Rocky Ford Creek, could result in a substantial oil spill. Smaller vehicle accidents pose a similar risk, commensurate to the volume of fuel and oil they carry. Spills from vehicles onto roadways could cause fuel or oil to flow from ditches or harden surfaces into streams, creeks, wasteways, or storm water systems ultimately impacting Moses Lake, Crab Creek, Rocky Ford Creek or other streams in the area.

Rail Transportation and Facilities: Train locomotives typically hold several thousand gallons of diesel fuel plus large quantities of lube and motor oils. Loaded train tank cars can contain tens of thousands of gallons of crude oil or other petroleum products. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad’s Columbia River Subdivision crosses the headwaters of Rocky Ford Creek south of Soap Lake and generally runs adjacent to Crab Creek between Adrian and Odessa. Further upstream, the subdivision crosses Crab Creek near Bluestem Road about 4 miles west of Edwall. The Columbia River Subdivision is used for mostly intermodal trains coming from or going to Seattle and empty trains. There are however mixed cargo trains that can also carry Hazardous Materials and Petroleum Products on this line.

Oil Pipelines: The Yellowstone Pipeline crosses Crab Creek at three locations; within the cities of Moses Lake and Odessa, and in northeastern Grant County about a mile downstream from the boundary with Lincoln County. The pipeline transports thousands of gallons of refined petroleum products each year; mainly diesel and gasoline. If the pipeline were to leak or rupture, impact to sensitive resources in the area could be significant.

Aircraft: Grant County International Airport is located north of the City of Moses Lake, adjacent to the Rocky Ford Arm of the lake, opposite Highway 17. There is always a potential for aircraft failures during inbound and outbound flights that could result in fuel releases to water.

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Resources at Risk

This section provides a summary of natural, cultural, and economic resources at risk in the Moses Lake/Crab Creek 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 includes fundamental procedures for the discovery of cultural artifacts and human skeletal remains. General information about flight restrictions, hazing, and oiled wildlife can be found near the end of this chapter. A list of economic resources in the area is provided as a download in the table of contents.

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This section is purposely broad in scope and should not be considered comprehensive. Some of the sensitive resources provided in this chapter are listed because they could not be addressed in
Response Strategies and Priorities. Additional information from private organizations or federal, state, tribal, and local government agencies should also be sought and considered during

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 the Response Strategies and Priorities section of this plan.
  • Providing resource-at-risk “context” to responders, clean-up workers, and others during the initial phase of a spill response in the area.
  • Briefing responders and incident command staff that may be unfamiliar with sensitive resource concerns in the Moses Lake/Crab Creek area.
  • Providing background information for personnel involved in media presentations and public outreach during an oil 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, eelgrass and marsh grasses in estuaries, and kelp beds in the ocean; microscopic plants and animals; and larger animals, such as fish, amphibians and reptiles, birds, mammals, and a wide variety of invertebrates, are all at 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 Moses Lake/Crab Creek sub-basin affords a wide variety of aquatic, riparian, and upland habitats. These varied habitats support a complex diversity of wildlife species, including large and
small mammals; songbirds, birds of prey, upland birds, and waterfowl; reptiles; and amphibians. Some species are resident throughout the year; others are migratory either within the subbasin or, in many cases, seasonally migrate outside the subbasin. Many wildlife species found in the subbasin are classified as threatened, endangered, sensitive, or of special concern under the federal Endangered Species Act or under 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)
  • Federal Species of Concern (FCo)
  • State Endangered (SE)
  • State Threatened (ST)
  • State Candidate (SC)
  • State Sensitive (SS)

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


  • Bald Eagle [FCo/SS]
  • Burrowing Owl [FCo/SC]
  • Clark’s Grebe [SC]
  • Common Loon [SS]
  • Ferruginous Hawk [FCo/ST]
  • Greater Sage-Grouse [FC/ST]
  • Loggerhead Shrike [FCo/SC]
  • Peregrine Falcon [FCo/SS]
  • Sagebrush Sparrow [SC]
  • Sage Thrasher [SC]
  • Western Grebe [SC]
  • White Pelican [SE]
  • Yellow-Billed Cuckoo [FT/SC]


  • Gray wolf [FE/SE]
  • Pygmy Rabbit [FE/SE]
  • Washington Ground Squirrel [FC/SC]
  • White-Tailed Jackrabbit [SC]


  • California Floater [FCo/SC]


  • Columbia Spotted Frog [SC]
  • Northern Leopard Frog [FCo/SE]
  • Sagebrush Lizard [FCo/SC]


  • Northern Wormwood [FC]
  • Spalding’s Catchfly [FT]
  • Ute ladies-Tresses [FT]

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General Resource Concerns


  • Wetlands in this region are all freshwater and range from seasonal open marshes to forested swamps along rivers and streams. All wetland types support a diverse array of amphibian, bird, insect, fish, and wildlife species.
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  • Riparian Areas serve as transitional zones between the uplands and the rivers and consequently are heavily used by a variety of wildlife. They also contribute to fish habitat by
    providing shade, cover, and food.
  • Side Channels and Impounded Areas provide feeding and resting areas for waterfowl and Herons and are important rearing areas for juvenile fish.
  • Islands provide important nesting habitat for a variety of bird species, as well as habitat for a variety of mammals.
  • Stream Mouths are concentration areas for fish and are feeding areas for a variety of birds.

Fish and Shellfish:

  • California Floaters (freshwater mussels) are found throughout most of the region.
  • Resident Fish present year-round in lake and streams include Largemouth bass, Crappie, Perch, Bullheads and Rainbow trout.


  • Waterfowl Concentrations (significant) exist throughout this GRP region from fall through spring. Hundreds of thousands of geese, swans and dabbling ducks may occupy this region during peak periods. Resident and migratory waterfowl heavily utilize the islands, backwaters, wetlands and adjacent uplands of the region from fall through spring. Numerous islands in this sub-region also provide nesting habitat for resident waterfowl.
  • Bald Eagles and Great Blue Herons nest throughout the region and forage year-round.
  • Resident and Migratory Songbirds heavily utilize riparian habitats year-round and are susceptible to oiling if riparian vegetation and shorelines become contaminated.
  • Other Small Mammals common to the region include beaver, muskrat, river otter, mink and raccoon. All of these small mammals are vulnerable to contact with spilled oil because of their habitat preferences. Larger mammals are also present throughout this area.

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Specific Geographic Areas of Concern – Overview

Moses Lake/Rocky Ford Creek: (see Figure 1)

  1. Pelican Horn: Large concentrations of waterfowl, primarily occurring fall through spring particularly in the northeastern part of the horn with high densities of Canada goose and duck nests on Marsh Island, Goat Island, and Gailey’s Island. Bald eagle wintering. Western grebes [SC] and Clark’s grebes [SC] breeding area. California floaters present. Wetland habitat in northeastern end of Pelican Horn.
  2. Parker Horn: Large concentrations of waterfowl, primarily occurring fall through spring particularly in the northeastern part of the horn to the confluence with Crab Creek. High densities of Canada goose and duck nests present on small islands. Bald eagle wintering. Wetland habitat throughout.
  3. Lewis Horn: Large concentrations of waterfowl, primarily occurring fall through spring particularly west of Cascade Park. Crest Island provides nesting habitat for Western grebes [SC] and Clark’s grebes [SC], in addition to large numbers of Canada geese and various ducks. Bald eagle wintering. Common loons present in this area. Wetland habitats exist on Crest Island and northwest end of Lewis Horn.
  4. Southwest Moses Lake from Moses Lake State Park to Cascade Valley: Very large concentrations of migrating/nesting waterfowl (up to 50,000 ducks of various species and 20,000 Canada geese) present in this area fall through spring. Burrowing owls [SC] present along western shore. Northern leopard frogs [SE] present.
  5. Northwest Moses Lake from Connolly Park to the mouth of Rocky Ford Creek: Very large concentrations of migrating waterfowl (up to 50,000 ducks of various species and 10,000 Canada geese) present throughout this area, fall through spring. Bald eagle concentrations in winter. Nesting area for Long-billed curlews. Extensive wetland and shrub-steppe habitats along creek.
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Crab Creek: (see Figure 2)

  1. Crab Creek (Moses Lake to Gloyd Seeps Wildlife Unit): Large waterfowl migration concentration area (up to 2,000 geese and 5,000 ducks). Significant shorebird concentration
    area during late summer and fall. Clark’s grebe [SC] nesting area. Bald eagle [FCo/SS] and dabbling duck nesting occurs on the lower reaches of the creek. Burrowing owl [SE] and Long-billed curlew nesting in uplands to the west. Winter habitat for Ring-necked pheasants. Resident warm-water fish and Rainbow trout. Riparian, wetland, and shrub-steppe habitats.
  2. Gloyd Seeps Wildlife Unit: Major migration, wintering, and nesting site for geese and dabbling ducks. Resting/foraging area for American white Pelican [SE]. Nesting sites for Clark’s grebe [SC], Greater sage-grouse [FC/ST], and Long-billed curlew nesting is also occurring in this area. Other species present in this area include Bald eagle [FCo/SS], Loggerhead shrike [FCo/SC], Northern leopard frog [FCo/SE], Peregrine falcon [FCo/SS], Sagebrush sparrow [SC]. Resident warm-water fish and Rainbow trout. Riparian, wetland, and shrub-steppe habitats.
  3. Brook Lake: Very large waterfowl migration/concentration area (up to 60,000 Lesser Canada geese in fall). Area regularly used by American white pelicans [SE] and by Tundra swans in the spring. Associated wetland habitat provide important habitat for waterfowl, songbirds, shorebirds and upland species. Resident warm-water fish and Rainbow trout. Nearby uplands support Washington ground squirrel [SC], American badger, White-tailed jackrabbit [SC], Mule deer, Ferruginous hawks [FCo/ST], and Peregrine falcons [FCo/SS]. Riparian, wetland and shrub-steppe habitats.
  4. Wilson Creek to Odessa: Very large waterfowl concentration area during spring floods (up to 100,000 ducks, 50,000 Canada geese, 2,000 Tundra swans). Area also regularly used by American white pelicans [SE], Bald eagle [FCo/SS], Ferruginous hawks [FCo/ST]. Resident warm-water fish and Rainbow trout. Nearby uplands support American badger, Washington ground squirrel [SC], White-tailed jackrabbit [SC], Mule deer, Burrowing owl [SE], Greater sage-grouse [FC/ST], Loggerhead shrike [FCo/SC], Peregrine falcons [FCo/SS], Prairie falcon, Sage thrasher [SC], Sagebrush sparrow [SC],and Sagebrush lizard [FCo/SC]. Riparian, wetland, and shrub-steppe habitats.
  5. Sylvan Lake: Waterfowl concentration/breeding area for ducks, swans, and geese. Nesting area for Great blue and Black-crowned herons. Resident warm-water fish and Rainbow
    trout. Nearby uplands support White-tailed jackrabbit [SC], Long-billed curlew, Sagebrush lizard [FCo/SC]. Riparian, wetland and shrub-steppe habitats.

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Specific Geographic Areas of Concern – Maps and Descriptions

Figure 1: Specific geographic areas of concern within Moses Lake/Rocky Ford Creek.

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Figure 2: Specific geographic areas of concern along Crab Creek.

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Cultural Resources at Risk – Summary

Culturally sensitive sites are present within the Moses Lake / Crab Creek GRP area. Due to the sensitive nature of this information, details regarding the location and type of cultural resources
present are not included in this document. However, in order to ensure that tactical response strategies do not inadvertently harm historical and culturally sensitive sites, Washington
Department of Archeology and Historic Preservation (WDAHP) should be consulted before disturbing any soil or sediment during a response action. WDAHP may assign a person to monitor
cleanup operations, or provide a list of professional archeologists that can be hired to monitor response activities.

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Information on the location of culturally sensitive sites is maintained by WDAHP and made available to Washington Department of Ecology for oil spill preparedness and response planning. The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, Spokane Tribe of Indians, Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakima Nation, and Nez Perce Tribe may also be able to provide information on cultural resources at risk in this GRP area and should be consulted. After the Unified Command is established, information related to specific archeological concerns will be coordinated through the Environmental Unit.

Table 6-1: MLCC GRP Cultural Resource Contacts

Contact Phone Email
WDAHP (Rob Whitlam) (360) 586-3065
Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation
(Guy Moura)
(509) 634-2695
Spokane Tribe of Indians (Randy Abrahamson) (509) 258-4315
Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakima Nation (Kate Valdez) (509) 865-5121 Ext. 4840
Nez Perce Tribe (Pat Baird) (208) 621-3851

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. 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

All work must be stopped immediately and the Incident Commander and Cultural Resource Specialist notified if any person monitoring work activities or involved in spill response believes that
they have encountered cultural resources. 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 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 and traps
  • 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

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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. Economic Resources at Risk appendix in the Table of Contents provides a list of economic resources for this GRP area.

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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 abandonment of nests. 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 ft radius and below 1,000 ft 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 during response operations.

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Hazing: After a Unified Command is formed, the Wildlife Hazing Group within the Wildlife Branch (Operations Section) manages wildlife hazing operations. These are actions intended to minimize injuries to wildlife by keeping animals away from the oil and cleanup operations. Hazing includes acoustic or visual deterrent devices, boats, aircraft or other tools. The Wildlife Branch works with state and federal agencies, and the Environmental Unit (Planning Section), to develop hazing plans as appropriate. For more information see the Northwest Wildlife Response Plan (NWACP Section 9310) and Northwest Area Wildlife Deterrence Resources (NWACP Section 9311). Usually, the use of boats and watercraft are restricted within 200 yards of National Wildlife Refuges and other sensitive locations.

Oiled Wildlife: Attempting to capture oiled wildlife can be hazardous to both the animal and the person attempting to capture the animal. 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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