Puyallup-White Rivers GRP
- Interim update: July 2023
- Last full updated: 2017
- Public Comment: GRPs@ecy.wa.gov
Table of Contents
This section provides a description of the physical features, hydrology, climate, and winds in the Puyallup-White Rivers GRP planning area, and an oil spill risk assessment in Section 2.6. The Puyallup-White GRP planning area covers approximately 207 square miles, and resides within the boundaries of Pierce and King Counties. Fully or partially, it includes the towns or cities of Auburn, Edgewood, Enumclaw, Fife, Lake Tapps, Orting, Parkland, Puyallup, South Hill, Spanaway, Sumner, and Waller. Portions of WRIA 9 (Duwamish/Green), WRIA 10 (Puyallup/White), and WRIA 12 (Chambers/Clover) falls within this planning area, and includes: Boise Creek, Canyonfalls Creek, Carbon River, Clarks Creek, Clear Creek, Clover Creek, Fennel Creek, Hylebos Creek, Puyallup River, Simons Creek, Swan Creek, Wapato Creek, and the White River. The Muckleshoot and Puyallup Tribes have reservation lands in the area. At least a dozen other tribes have potential interests in the area, including: Lummi, Nisqually, Nooksack, Sauk-Suiattle, Snoqualmie, Squaxin Island, Stillaguamish, Suquamish, Swinomish, Tulalip, Upper Skagit Tribes, and the Yakama Nation. Major roadways in the planning area includes: Interstate 5, Hwy 7, Hwy 161, Hwy 162, Hwy 164, Hwy 165, Hwy 167, Hwy 169, Hwy 18, Hwy 181, Hwy 410, and Hwy 512. BNSF, Union Pacific, Tacoma Rail, and the Tacoma Eastern Railroad are the only companies that own/operate railroad track in the area. The U.S. Oil/McCord Pipeline and BP Olympic Pipeline reside within the boundaries of this planning area. The Puyallup-White GRP is bordered by the South Puget Sound GRP to the south, Central Puget Sound GRP to the northwest, and Green River Duwamish GRP to the north and northeast.
Although the eastern boundary of the planning area is far from Mount Rainer, the physical features of this area have been shaped to a large extent by the mountain. All of the major rivers in this area, the Puyallup and its tributaries the Carbon and the White, are fed from glaciers on the west side of Mount Rainer. The land through which these rivers flow has been formed by Mount Rainer (Shared Strategy for Puget Sound). Lahars and mudflows, including the Osceola Mudflow of 5,600 years ago, cover much of the area with deposits at least 100 feet thick (USGS). Since lahars and mudflows can occur at any time, the USGS has installed a lahar detection and warning system in the Carbon and Puyallup River valleys. This system would give the tens of thousands of people who live in the area time to evacuate to higher ground during an emergency (USGS).
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Development in the planning area varies widely, from the urban areas of Tacoma, to large areas of suburban housing, to rural areas dominated by agricultural fields. Two federally recognized Indian reservations are present in this planning area. The Muckleshoot Reservation spans six land sections extending diagonally along the White River southeast of the city of Auburn (Muckleshoot Indian Tribe). The Puyallup Indian Reservation covers more than 28 square miles including major parts of Tacoma and lands to the south and east (McShane 2016).
Major transportation corridors pass through this planning area. More than 39 miles of BNSF rail track, 28 miles of Union Pacific track, 15.8 miles of Tacoma Rail track, and 15.8 miles of Tacoma Eastern Railroad track are present in the area. Two petroleum pipelines pass through this area: almost 16 miles of Olympic Pipe Line and 7.3 miles of McChord pipeline. Major highways, including Interstate 5, Highways 164, 167, 410, and 512 crisscross the area. Many of the highways and railroads run parallel to and cross the major rivers throughout the planning area.
The Puyallup River and its main tributary, the White River, are naturally very braided and meandering. This has caused frequent flooding in the past, and created problems for the cities and towns along the rivers. In order to mitigate this danger, dams and modifications of both rivers have occurred. The Buckley Diversion Dam on the White River(located at the eastern boundary of the PWR planning area), the Mud Mountain Dam on the White River, and the Electron Dam on the Puyallup River (both located outside of this planning area), as well as extensive levees, were built as flood control efforts and have greatly alter the natural flow of the rivers.
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In addition to the alterations caused by the flood control dams and levees, the White River Hydroelectric Project, which began in 1910, also greatly altered this planning area. The Project merged Church, Crawford, and Kirtley Lakes to form Lake Tapps. This water body is seven miles in length and has 47 miles of shoreline. The White River Hydroelectric Project, which was developed by Puget Sound Power and Light, has been in operation from 1911 until its decommissioning in 2005. The Cascade Water Alliance, a consortium of eastside cities, now uses the lake as a backup water source for its members’ water distribution system. Development in this planning area varies widely, from the urban areas of Tacoma, to large areas of suburban housing, to rural areas dominated by agricultural fields. Groundwater plays a major role in supplying water in the planning area. Some of the primary users include the cities of Federal Way, Puyallup, Sumner, and Tacoma, which supplies a portion of its water from wells in the Puyallup-White Watershed (WA Dept. of Ecology).
Portions of WRIA 9 (Duwamish/Green), WRIA 10 (Puyallup-White), and WRIA 12 (Chambers/Clover) fall within the geographic boundaries of this plan. Most of the 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 late summer glacial melting and groundwater inflow. This means that groundwater and surface water are least available when water demands are the highest.
WRIA 9 (Duwamish/Green): The Duwamish-Green Watershed is situated in southern Puget Sound and comprises most of southern King county, including south Seattle and its adjacent suburban areas of Kent, Des Moines, Covington and other cities. On its west side it is bounded by Puget Sound and its east side includes portions of the Cascade Mountain range. This watershed has a large amount of urban development and high population density on its west side. This watershed includes only one major river, the Duwamish-Green River, which originates in the Cascade Mountains. The Green River is a significant source of drinking water for the Tacoma area. It also includes the Howard A. Hanson Dam, which is used for flood control and reservoir purposes. The watershed includes various smaller streams such as Jenkins, Little Soos, Newaukum and Boundary creeks. Average precipitation ranges from 30-35 inches per year in the coastal areas to 70 inches in the mountains (WA Dept. of Ecology).
WRIA 10 (Puyallup-White): The Puyallup-White Watershed is located in western Washington. This watershed includes three major rivers, the Puyallup, White, and Carbon, all of which originate from glaciers on Mt. Rainier. The annual precipitation in the Puyallup-White Watershed ranges from 30 to 40 inches per year in the greater Tacoma area, to over 120 inches in the Cascade Mountains. Only a fraction of this precipitation becomes available for human and economic uses (WA Dept. of Ecology).
WRIA 12 (Chambers/Clover): Water Resource Inventory Area (WRIA) 12 consists of Chambers, Clover, and Spanaway Creeks and numerous tributary creeks and streams. This watershed is one of the most intensely populated basins in western Washington. Annual precipitation in the Chambers-Clover Watershed ranges from 40 to 60 inches per year (WA Dept. of Ecology).
Climate and Winds
The climate in the Puyallup-White planning area is usually mild. The area receives an average of 41 inches of rain per year, and 4 inches of snow (Sperling’s Best Places). Precipitation averages 96 days/year. Sunny conditions occur on average 141 days/year. The average percentage of the sky covered by clouds experiences extreme seasonal variation over the course of the year, with the cloudier part of the year beginning in October and lasting over 8 months. Temperatures vary by season between 36F (January) and 77F degrees (July) (U.S. Climate Data).
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Wind speeds and direction also vary in the planning area. For the majority of the year (Fall to Spring), winds are usually from the south, with an average speed of 2.3mph+. In late June and Early July, winds are usually from the west, then from the north for the rest of the summer season with average speeds around 1.7mph (Weather Spark).
Tides and Currents
The instream flow speed on the Puyallup River at the USGS Puyallup gage (river mile 6.6) has range of flow with a high of 5,180 cubic feet per second (cfs) in January, a low of 1,600 cfs in September, and an annual mean velocity of 3,589 cfs. The USGS gage on the Puyallup River at Alderton (river mile 12.2) shows that the Puyallup River upstream of the confluence with the White River has much lower flows throughout the year, with a high of 2,540 cfs in January, a low of 870 cfs in September, and annual mean velocity of 1,764 cfs. The USGS gage on the White River above Boise Creek in Buckley (RM 24) shows that the instream flow is similar to the flow on the Puyallup River at Alderton, with a high of 2,030 cfs in January, a low of 578 cfs in September, and an annual mean velocity of 1,413 cfs. Each portion of a river will have faster or slower speeds based on a variety of factors, including channel width, channel depth, debris blockages, and elevation change, among others. Sloughs and side channels will have significantly lower flow speeds commensurate with their channel width, depth, and vegetation. There are also tidally influenced sections within the lower reaches of the Puyallup River in this planning area; tides have the potential to greatly impact instream flow. Likewise, the White River Diversion Dam also will alter the instream flow on the White River, downstream of the dam, depending on the amount of water diverted into Lake Tapps.
The Puyallup-White Rivers are 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, and recreational boating. This section briefly discusses these risks and how they could impact the WADE-GRP planning area.
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Oil Types: Both refined petroleum products and crude oil are transported in bulk within this planning area. Crude oil and refined products contain a mix of hydrocarbons with varying properties; different types of crude oil and refined products will behave differently when spilled. Recent changes in oil production have led to an increase in the movement of Bakken light crude and diluted bitumen from Canada transported through the planning area via rail.
Crude oil from the Bakken fields in North Dakota has properties similar to gasoline or diesel, and poses a higher risk of fire because much of it will evaporate quickly into flammable vapors. Unlike gasoline, the heavier hydrocarbons in the crude will persist in the environment after the light ends evaporate or burn. Bitumen from the oil sands in Alberta, Canada, is heavy, almost asphalt-like, until it is mixed with lighter oil products known as diluents to create diluted bitumen. Once mixed, the diluted bitumen will initially float on water after being spilled. Environmental conditions, such as the density of the receiving waters and sediment load of the receiving waters, will affect how long diluted bitumen floats. As the light diluents evaporate, the remaining heavy constituents may sink into the water column. There are specific response actions recommended for non-floating oils, detailed in the Non-Floating Oil Spill Response Tool in the Northwest Area Contingency Plan (NWACP), Section 9412.
Road Systems: Vehicle traffic on roadways pose an oil spill risk in areas where they run adjacent to the shorelines, or cross over lakes, rivers, creeks, and ditches, that drain into the Puyallup-White Rivers and their tributaries. Major highways, including Interstate 5, Highways 161, 162, 167, 410, and 512 border or crisscross the area. Many of the highways and railroads run parallel to and cross the major rivers throughout the planning area. I-5 borders the planning area to the northwest and crosses the Puyallup River on the NW boarder of the planning area. I-5 carries West Coast traffic between Canada and Mexico and poses the most significant risk of highway spills, due to the frequency of large tank trucks carrying a number of fuel types.
There are several smaller highways with bridges or causeways where vehicles cross the White, the Puyallup, and/or their tributaries. A vehicle spill onto one of these bridges or roadways can cause fuel or oil to flow from hardened surfaces into a river or its tributaries. 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.
Rail Transportation and Facilities: Rail companies transport oil via both unit trains and manifest trains in this area. Unit trains include: up to four locomotives, buffer cars, and 118 loaded tank cars transporting oil in 714-barrel (29,998 gallon) capacity USDOT-approved tank cars. 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 crude oil or petroleum products. Every 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.
Unit trains carrying crude currently operate on specific routes. Unit trains carrying crude from the Bakken Formation in North Dakota enter Washington State near Spokane, continue along the Columbia River to Vancouver, and then head north along I-5. This main rail line, used by both BNSF and Union Pacific, enters the PWR-GRP planning area from the northwest at the City of Tacoma, parallels the Puyallup River until reaching Sumner, and then traverses alongside the White River until exiting the planning area to the North near Auburn. These rail lines cross the Puyallup River, the White River, or both of the rivers, as well as several tributaries within the planning area.
Trains from both BNSF and Union Pacific, the major carriers in the area, generally contain mixed cargo loads, and may include the transport of hazardous materials, including dilbit and Bakken crude oil. Tacoma Rail (a division of Tacoma Public Utilities) is a municipally owned and operated Class III short line railroad that serves the Port of Tacoma and industrial customers by transporting oil and other cargo from Tacoma south to the Frederickson area, and provides switching services for BNSF and Union Pacific railroads. Tacoma Rail crosses Clover Creek, the North Fork of Clover Creek, and a few of their tributaries within the planning area. The main spill risk in the PWR-GRP planning area is from the movement of refined petroleum products (i.e. gasoline, diesel fuel) and other chemicals. More than 39 miles of BNSF rail track, 28 miles of Union Pacific track, and 15.8 miles of Tacoma Railroad track are present in the PWR-GRP planning area.
Oil Pipelines: Two petroleum pipelines pass through the area: almost 16 miles of Olympic Pipeline and 7.3 miles of McChord Pipeline carrying refined products to southern Washington and Oregon. The BP Olympic Pipeline travels 400 miles from the Cherry Point refinery to Portland, Oregon, with additional input lines from the refineries at Phillips 66 Ferndale, Tesoro Anacortes, and Shell Anacortes. It delivers to the terminals at Harbor Island in Seattle, jet fuel to SeaTac airport, and facilities in Tacoma before exporting 1.3 billion gallons per year across the Columbia River to Oregon. The McChord Pipeline transports jet fuel from the U.S. Oil & Refining Company in Tacoma, just outside the planning area to the northwest, to the McChord Airforce Base located just outside the planning area to the southwest.
Aircraft: Pierce County Thun Field Airport is the only airport within the planning area. Managed by Pierce County and the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), it is a public use, general aviation airport. There are currently no airlines providing scheduled passenger service to this airport. Several other small private landing fields are also in the planning area. Just outside the planning area are numerous small, and several major airports, including McChord Airforce Base to the west, and Settle Tacoma International Airport, located less than 10 miles to the north. Since all of these airports are relatively close to the planning area, the potential exists for aircraft failures during inbound or outbound flights that could result in a spill by releasing aviation fuel into the Puyallup-White Rivers or a tributary stream.
Recreational Boating: Accidents involving recreational watercraft on the Puyallup-White Rivers have the potential to result in spills of a few gallons of gasoline up to hundreds of gallons of diesel fuel. Examples of such accidents might include vessel collisions, allisions, groundings, fires, sinking, or explosions. Bilge discharges and mishaps during boat refueling operations are generally the most common types of oil spills to occur from recreational boating.
Other Spill Risks: Other potential oil spill risks in the area include, dam turbine mechanical failures, fuel storage areas (including waste oil storage), industrial accidents, 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 the river or its tributary streams.
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 section is purposely broad in scope and should not be considered comprehensive. Some of the sensitive resources described in this section cannot be addressed in Section 4 (Response Strategies and Priorities) because it is 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 within the Planning Section.
The information provided in this section can be used in:
- Assisting the Environmental Unit (EU) and Operations Sections 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.
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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This area contains a wide variety of aquatic, riparian, and upland habitats. These habitats support many of Washington’s anadromous salmonid species as well as a complex diversity of other wildlife including mammals, birds, and amphibians. Due to their life histories and/or behaviors, some of these species are unlikely to be directly oiled during a spill incident but may be disturbed by other operations such as cleanup, reconnaissance, or fire suppression activities. Some of the bird species are resident throughout the year, but many others seasonally migrate outside the basin. A number of the species found in this area are classified as threatened or endangered 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)
- State Endangered (SE)
- State Threatened (ST)
- State Sensitive (SS)
Federal and State Threatened and Endangered species that may occur within this area, at some time of year, include:
- Common loon [SS]
- Marbled murrelet [FT/SE]
- Streaked horned lark [FT/SE]*
- Yellow-billed cuckoo [FT]*
- Gray Wolf [FE/SE]*
- Bull trout [FT]
- Chinook salmon [FT]
- Steelhead [FT]
- Oregon spotted Frog [FT/SE]
- Western pond turtle [SE]
- Golden paintbrush [FT]
- Water howellia [FT]
* Unlikely to be directly oiled during a spill incident.
General Resource Concerns
- Many rivers and streams throughout this region provide spawning and rearing habitat for a number of salmonid species including Chinook, chum, Coho, pink, and sockeye salmon, as well as cutthroat (resident and coastal), Dolly Varden, rainbow, and steelhead trout. Passerine birds commonly nest in riparian habitat during the spring and summer.
- 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.
- Restoration sites where significant efforts have been expended to restore natural functions in a degraded habitat.
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- Salmonid species are present throughout this region, with spawning occurring throughout the area’s rivers and streams. Juvenile salmonids use these streams for feeding, rearing, and as migration corridors.
- Waterfowl concentrations of various species may be found throughout the region in wetlands and agricultural fields near rivers and creeks. Concentrations especially prevalent from fall through spring.
- Sensitive nesting species in the region include bald eagles, passerine birds, ducks (including cavity-nesting), and great blue herons.
Specific Geographic Areas of Concern – Overview
- Lake Geneva: Wetland and lake habitat. Waterfowl concentration area including ducks, grebes, cormorants, loons, and Canada geese.
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- Pacific City Park and wetlands: extending to south. Wetland and off-channel river habitat. Salmonid presence (including Chinook, Coho, bull trout and steelhead). Waterfowl concentration area.
- Swan Creek Park/greenspace: Wetland complex. Waterfowl concentration area and great blue heron rookery (lower reach). Salmonid presence (including Chinook, Coho, and steelhead).
- Lake Chalet (Edgewood): Wetland and lake habitats. Waterfowl concentration area (including wood ducks).
- Wetland complex adjacent to West Valley Hwy: Wetland habitat and biodiversity corridor. Salmonids (including Chinook, Coho, and steelhead), raptors, waterfowl concentrations.
- Lake Tapps: Wetland and lake habitats. Salmonid presence (including Chinook, Coho, bull trout and steelhead). Concentration/breeding area for raptors and waterfowl.
- White River wetland complex, east of Lake Tapps: Wetland and off-channel river habitats. Salmonid presence (including Chinook, Coho, bull trout, and steelhead). Raptors, great blue heron breeding areas. Waterfowl concentration area. Western toad presence.
- 96th St./Sportsman Club oxbow restoration sites: Wetland and off-channel river habitat. Waterfowl concentration area. Salmonid presence (including Chinook, Coho, bull trout, and steelhead). Riparian restoration sites.
- Lower Boise Creek: Wetland and off-channel river habitat. Salmonid presence (including Chinook, Coho, bull trout, and steelhead). Riparian restoration site.
Specific Geographic Areas of Concern – Maps and Descriptions
Figure 1: Specific geographic areas of concern in the PWR GRP.
Figure 2: Additional specific geographic areas of concern in the PWR GRP.
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 (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
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Table 6.1: PWR-GRP Cultural Resource Contacts
|Washington Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation
|The Puyallup Tribe of Indians
|Lummi Nation, THPO
|Nisqually Tribe, THPO
|Nooksack Indian Tribe, THPO
|Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe
|Squaxin Island Tribe
|Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians
|The Suquamish Tribe, THPO
|Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, THPO
|Upper Skagit Tribe
|Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation
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.
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
- 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
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.
Flight restriction zones: Flight restriction zones may be recommended by the Environmental Unit (Planning Section) for the purpose of reducing disturbances that could result in injury to wildlife during an oil spill. By keeping a safe distance or altitude from identified sensitive areas, pilots can lessen 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).