Upper Columbia River GRP

  • Interim update: October 2023
  • Last full update: 2017
  • Contact: 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 tides and currents in the Upper Columbia River GRP planning area, and an oil spill risk assessment in Section 2.6. The southernmost portion of the planning area begins near Crescent Bar Recreation Area at River Mile (RM) 437. The Columbia River heads in a northwesterly direction past the Rock Island Dam at RM 452 toward the City of Wenatchee. From the confluence of the Wenatchee River at RM 468, the main stem heads in a northerly direction toward the Rocky Reach Dam. Some of the tributaries in this area include Colockum, Douglas, Rock Island, Squilchuck, Stemilt, Tarpiscan, and Tekison Creeks. The planning area covers about 207 square miles and resides partially within Water Resource Inventory Area Alkali-Squilchuck (WRIA 40), Lower Crab (WRIA 41), Moses Coulee (WRIA 44), and Wenatchee (WRIA 45). The communities of Wenatchee, East Wenatchee, and Rock Island are located within the boundaries of this planning area, as well as portions of Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Kittitas Counties.

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Physical Features

The physical features of the area now known as eastern and central Washington and Oregon were greatly influenced by volcanic activity, which built up a stratum of mud, ash, and lava in the geologic column during the Eocene (55.8-33.9 million years ago), Oligocene (33.9-23 million years ago), and Miocene (23-5.3 million years ago) Epochs (Smith 2011). Basalt flows, known as the Columbia River Basalt Group, then covered the area in layers, forming a strong foundation of basaltic rock at least one mile thick (Foster 2008). Subsequent lava and ash eruptions raised the Cascade Mountains during the Miocene and Pleistocene Epochs (2.6 million – 11,700 years ago). As the mountains rose, the Columbia River carved out a deep gorge. Towards the end of the Pleistocene (~16,000-14,000 years ago) cataclysmic mega-floods scoured the landscape. The floods originated from the margins of the Cordilleran Ice Sheet, particularly Glacial Lake Missoula in present day Montana (Bretz 1927). The Missoula floods battered the area over 100 times when the glacial dam forming Glacial Lake Missoula was repeatedly breached. The portion of the Columbia River within this planning area formed the western boundary of the area known as the Channeled Scablands. This is a complex of “vein-like” channels, rock basins, broad coarse-grained alluvial deposits, and loess islands created by these floods (Baker 2008). This series of events has been described as one of the greatest flood occurrences in the history of the earth (WA Military Department). Dramatic examples of the results of these floods can be seen clearly in the present landscape in and around this planning area. The steep basalt cliffs surrounding the Columbia River and the numerous coulees flowing into the river were caused by these floods. These coulees are steep-walled canyons which either lack any active streams or contain streams so small that they couldn’t have been responsible for the scale of erosion needed to gouge them out. Some examples of this are Grand Coulee, where large volumes of flowing water scoured a channel about one mile wide, and Moses Coulee, which stretches for more than 40 miles from Mansfield to the Columbia River near Rock Island (Foster 2008). Quincy Potholes, just south of planning area, is another dramatic example of these Pleistocene floods.

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The Upper Columbia River GRP planning area is a large area surrounding the Columbia River from the Rock Island Dam north of Wenatchee to just north of the Quincy potholes area. This area covers approximately 207 square miles and an almost 37-mile stretch of the Columbia River. It also covers one mile of the Wenatchee River at its confluence with the Columbia River, seven miles of Moses Coulee, and portions of 18 smaller creeks, canyons, gulches, and coulees. Most of the planning area has an annual rainfall of less than 15 inches, consists of a shrub steppe ecosystem, and is a place of rock bluffs and rolling hills used for farming and ranching. Irrigation from the Columbia River allows for a large amount of agriculture in Wenatchee and the surrounding areas. Wenatchee is often referred to as the “Apple Capital of the World” due to the many orchards in the vicinity. Wenatchee is the largest city in the planning area with a population of approximately 33,000. Other communities include East Wenatchee, Malaga, Rock Island, Trinidad, and Quincy.

Human activity has greatly altered the Columbia River over more than 100 years. In 1873 the USACE began modifying the river to aid navigation by removing obstructions, and from 1876-1915 building canals. Hydroelectric development came next with the damming of the main stem of the Columbia and Snake rivers in the 1930s. The first, which began construction in 1932, was Rock Island Dam near Wenatchee. Bonneville Dam followed in 1938. Construction of dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers continued into the 1970s, with most of the development occurring between 1950 and 1970. One other dam, the Rocky Reach Dam built in 1961, is also present in this planning area. Today there are 56 dams built exclusively for hydropower in the Columbia River Basin, and hydropower now supplies roughly 50 percent of the electricity used in the Northwest. Other benefits provided by many of the dams include navigation for large barges; irrigation to farms in drier areas; boat launches for recreational activities; and flood control.

This part of the state is rich with cultural history. Thousands of archaeological sites spanning over 13,000 years have been recorded in the Scablands and Plateau region. One of the more significant archaeological sites in Washington lies within this GRP planning area. Dozens of Clovis points and other artifacts dating from between 11,000 to 12,000 radiocarbon years Before Present were discovered at a relatively undisturbed site known as the East Wenatchee Clovis Site. In more recent times the Native American tribe known as the Wenatchi lived in this area. The Wenatchi did not receive reservation land and most now live on the Colville Indian Reservation located to the northeast or the Yakama Reservation to the south. In addition to the Colville and Yakama, the Nez Perce, Samish, Spokane, Tulalip, and Umatilla Tribes all have potential interests in the area due to their usual and accustomed fishing places.

The City of Wenatchee is located at the center of north-south and east-west transportation routes in this part of the state. Highway 2 goes west from Wenatchee over Stevens Pass to the Puget Sound. The road also continues east toward Spokane after paralleling the Columbia River in a northerly direction for approximately 20 miles. Highway 97 and 97A parallel the Columbia River on both banks heading north towards Canada. Heading south from Wenatchee, Highway 28 follows the east bank of the Columbia while Highway 285 follows the west bank. Railroad routes also converge in Wenatchee. BNSF railroad tracks follow the Wenatchee River east from Stevens Pass and then south along the Columbia River. There are 52 miles of BNSF track within this planning area. The Cascade and Columbia River Railroad tracks go north from Wenatchee following the west bank of the Columbia River towards their terminus at Oroville near the Canadian border. There are six miles of Cascade and Columbia River tracks within this planning area.
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The Columbia River drains the Central Cascade range and experiences high volumes of precipitation in the fall and winter, but the peak flows are in late spring and early summer from glaciers and mountain snowmelt. There are two hydroelectric dams on this stretch of the Columbia River and both are managed by the Chelan County Public Utility District. Because of the agricultural nature of the land adjacent to the Columbia River, water is drawn for irrigation in the summer. There are two USGS stations in the planning area tracking velocity and river height, located at Rocky Reach Dam at river mile 473.7 and at Rock Island Dam at river mile 453.5. These gages show that the highest flows are from April to June, with an average flow from 116,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) in April to 191,500 cfs in June, and a monthly low of approximately 76,400 cfs in September (USGS).

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The tributaries downstream of the Rocky Reach Dam gage – Rock Island, Squilchuck, and Stemilt Creeks and the Wenatchee River – contribute additional water to the Columbia River. The greatest difference in cfs between the two gages is in June while the smallest difference is in September.

The planning area resides within Water Resource Inventory Areas Alkali-Squilchuck (WRIA 40), Lower Crab (WRIA 41), Moses Coulee (WRIA 44), and Wenatchee (WRIA 45).

Alkali-Squilchuck (WRIA 40): Much of central Washington is arid, receiving less than 20 inches of rain annually. Most of this precipitation arrives during the winter months when overall water demands are the lowest. During the summer, snow pack 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 (WA Dept. of Ecology 2015).

Lower Crab (WRIA 41): 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 seven inches per year in the Beverly area, to over ten inches in the higher elevations. Only a fraction of this precipitation becomes groundwater available for human and economic uses. 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 groundwater inflow. This means that groundwater and surface water are least available when water demands are the highest (WA Dept. of Ecology 2015).

Moses Coulee (WRIA 44): Much of central Washington is arid, receiving less than 20 inches of rain annually. 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. At the same time the demand for water for human uses, including irrigation are at the yearly maximum. This means that groundwater and surface water are least available when water demands are the highest (WA Dept. of Ecology 2015).

Wenatchee (WRIA 45): Many areas of central Washington are arid, receiving less than 20 inches of rain annually. 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. At the same time the demand for water for human uses including irrigation are at the yearly maximum. This means that groundwater and surface water are least available when water demands are the highest (WA Dept. of Ecology 2015).


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Climate and Winds

The temperatures in the Columbia River area vary dramatically, with winter lows below freezing, and highs in the low 90s from July to August. Wenatchee averages 26 inches of snowfall in the winter months, but zero inches of accumulation (WRCC 2016). Total precipitation averages nine inches annually. In the southern part of the planning area, precipitation slightly decreases and temperature rises. Trinidad averages eight inches of precipitation and 23 inches of snowfall (WRCC 1961). Wind speed at Pangborn Memorial Airport averages 6.9 mph (WRCC 2006). Winds in East Wenatchee tend to blow in a westerly direction year-round. Chelan County experiences elevated wind speeds, typically in the fall and winter, with wind gusts reaching 51 mph. In 2016, the highest wind speed was recorded at 38 mph in early September (NASEM 2016).

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Tides and Currents

The flow speed on the Columbia River at the Rocky Reach Dam gage (river mile 473.7) is 2.3 mph at the annual mean velocity of 102,000 cfs. Each portion of the 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. This part of the Columbia River is not tidally influenced.

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Risk Assessment

The Upper Columbia River area 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, aircraft, recreational boating, and other risks. This section briefly discusses these risks and how they could impact the 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 transported through the planning area via rail, 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.16 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 Upper Columbia River. Two U.S. highways – 2 and Alt 97 – parallel the river banks in the northern portion of the planning area. Several smaller roads run parallel to the river, including State Routes 28 and 285. There are two highway bridges that cross the Upper Columbia River inside the planning area: Frances Farmer Memorial Bridge and Senator George Sellar Bridge.
A vehicle spill onto one of these bridges or roadways can cause fuel or oil to flow from hardened surfaces into the Upper Columbia 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. After delivering crude oil to one of the refineries in western Washington, the trains will travel east over the Cascade Mountains on their way back to the interior of North America.

Within this planning area, BNSF Railway owns the majority of commercial railroad tracks as part of its “Columbia River Subdivision”. There is a direct-to-locomotive fueling location at the BNSF Yard in Wenatchee. Also, Union Pacific and other smaller railroads transport cargo through the area. The other BSNF tracks in the planning area are known as the Scenic subdivision, which runs west from Wenatchee to the Everett area.

Aircraft: Pangborn Memorial Airport lies in the eastern portion of the UCR-GRP area, on the outskirts of East Wenatchee, and is jointly operated by the Port of Chelan County and the Port of Douglas County (Pangborn Airport). Alaska Airlines and its regional partner Horizon Air offer flights to and from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Since this airport is located less than two miles from the river, the potential exists for aircraft failures during inbound or outbound flights that result in a spill by releasing aviation fuel to the Columbia River or its tributaries.

Recreational Boating: Accidents involving recreational watercraft on the Columbia River 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.

Other Spill Risks: Other potential oil spill risks in the area include: dam turbine mechanical failures from upriver dams, 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 the river or its tributary streams.


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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 chapter.

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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 chapter cannot be addressed in 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 Response Strategies and Priorities.
  • 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 Upper Columbia River basin includes a wide variety of aquatic, riparian, and upland habitats. The area provides habitat to many 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. 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:


  • Northern spotted owl [FT]*
  • Ferruginous Hawk [ST]*
  • Greater sage-grouse [ST]*
  • Yellow-billed cuckoo [FT]*


  • Canada lynx [FT]*
  • Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit [FE/SE]*
  • Gray wolf [FT/SE]*
  • Grizzly bear [FT/SE]*


  • Bull trout [FT]
  • Chinook salmon [FT]
  • Steelhead [FT]


  • Whitebark pine [candidate for federal listing]

*Unlikely to be directly oiled during a spill incident.


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General Resource Concerns


  • Many rivers and streams throughout this region provide spawning and rearing habitat for a variety of salmonid species (including Chinook, sockeye, and coho salmon, as well as western slope cutthroat, rainbow, and steelhead trout). Passerine birds commonly nest in riparian habitat during the spring and summer. The Wenatchee and Columbia River waterways throughout this GRP are designated critical habitat for bull trout and Chinook salmon.
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  • 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. The floodplain along the Wenatchee River contains numerous small wetland and ponds that attract waterfowl.
  • Shrub-steppe habitat in this region supports many species of wildlife, including some that can only be found in these semi-arid communities – such as greater sage-grouse, sage sparrow, and sage thrasher.
  • Agriculture, rangeland, and mixed environs are interspersed with the shrub-steppe habitat. This mix of agriculture, range, and shrub-steppe habitats dominate the area adjacent to the riparian zone along the Wenatchee River from approximately Leavenworth to its confluence with the Columbia River.


  • Northwest salmonid species are present throughout this region, with spawning occurring in the Columbia River and its assorted tributaries. Juvenile salmonids use these streams for feeding, rearing, and migration corridors.
  • Resident species including trout (cutthroat and rainbow) and various warm water species are also present throughout this area.


  • Waterfowl concentrations of various species may be found throughout the region on rivers, creeks and ponds.
  • Sensitive nesting species in the region include bald eagles, golden eagles, peregrine falcons, great blue herons, and passerine birds.
  • Resident and migratory songbirds heavily utilize riparian habitats year-round and are susceptible to oiling/oil ingestion if riparian vegetation and shorelines become contaminated.
  • Mammals common to the area include deer and elk, bats, and various semi-aquatic species such as muskrat, beaver, river otter, etc. Semi-aquatic mammals are largely dependent on riverine areas, ponds, tributaries, and riparian forests for den sites and foraging areas.
  • Amphibians may be present in the undisturbed shallow lakes and emergent wetlands associated with this region.

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Specific Geographic Areas of Concern – Overview

(Note: Includes sensitive sites in bordering GRP regions)

Northern Portion of GRP Area (See Figure 1)

  1. Waterfowl: Waterfowl concentration and great blue heron rookery.
  2. Wenatchee Confluence State Park: Waterfowl concentration and cavity nesting ducks.
  3. Great blue heron: Nesting (rookery) habitat.
  4. Waterfowl: Waterfowl concentration.

Southern Portion of GRP Area (See Figure 2)

  1. Waterfowl: Waterfowl concentration and great blue heron rookery on island.
  2. Waterfowl: Waterfowl concentration including common loons.
  3. Wastewater Ponds: Waterfowl concentration including common loons.
  4. H Lake, Stan Coffin Lake, Quincy Lake, Dusty Lake, Burke Lake, Flat Lake, Evergreen Reservoir, and nearby ponds: Waterfowl concentration.

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Specific Geographic Areas of Concern – Maps and Descriptions

Figure 1: Specific geographic areas of concern in the northern portion the the UCR GRP.

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Figure 2: Specific geographic areas of concern in the southern portion of the UCR 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: UCR-GRP Cultural Resource Contacts.

Contact Phone Email
Washington Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation (360) 586-3080 Rob.Whitlam@dahp.wa.gov
Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, THPO (509) 634-2695 guy.moura@colvilletribes.com
Nez Perce Tribe (208) 843-2253 keithb@nezperce.org
Samish Indian Nation, THPO (360) 293-6404 x126 jferry@samishtribe.nsn.us
Spokane Tribe of Indians, THPO (509) 258-4315 randya@spokanetribe.com
Tulalip Tribes (425) 239-0182 ryoung@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov
Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (541) 276-3447 tearafarrowferman@ctuir.com
Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Indian Nation, THPO (509) 865-5121 x4840 kate@yakama.com


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.

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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 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 away from oil during a spill. The “Bird 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 observations of any 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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