Upper Yakima River GRP

Table of Contents


Site Description

This section provides a description of the physical features, hydrology, climate, and winds in the Upper Yakima River GRP planning area (YAKU-GRP), and an oil spill risk assessment in Section 2.6. The planning area is approximately 439 square miles and resides within the boundaries of Kittitas and Yakima Counties. Fully or partially, it includes the towns or cities of Cle Elum, Easton, Ellensburg, Kittitas, Ronald, Roslyn, South Cle Elum, and Thorp. Portions of WRIA 39 (Upper Yakima) fall within this planning area. The Upper Yakima River GRP is bordered by the Upper Green River GRP to the west, and the Yakima River GRP to the south and southwest.

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 (UC Berkeley). Basalt flows, known as the Columbia River Basalt Group, then covered the area in layers, forming a strong foundation of basaltic rock up to three miles thick (WA DNR). The southernmost part of this planning area forms the western edge of the Columbia River Basalt flows. 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 Yakima, Snake, and Columbia Rivers carved out deep gorges.

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The Upper Yakima River GRP planning area is a large and diverse area stretching from the top of the Cascade Mountains to the dry sagebrush-covered lands of the Columbia Plateau. It covers approximately 439 square miles of land surrounding the Yakima River, from its source at Keechelus Lake near Snoqualmie Pass, to just north of the town of Selah. The main physical feature of this planning area is the Yakima River itself and the multitude (more than 60) of tributary creeks and canyons. In most cases, only the last few miles of the tributary creeks prior to their confluence with the Yakima River are covered in this planning area. The waters of the Yakima River come from the mountains surrounding Snoqualmie Pass and flow into Keechelus Lake. Annual precipitation at Snoqualmie Pass is over 90 inches, much of that falling as snow. The topography of this area of the Upper Yakima River watershed was most recently formed by large Pleistocene and Holocene glaciers. Evidence for these glaciations include moraines, outwash terraces, erratics, cirques, glacially sculpted bedrock, and abandoned drainages. In addition to Keechelus Lake, two other glacial lakes are present on the northern boundary of the planning area. Water from Kachess Lake and Cle Elum Lake also flows into the Yakima River and plays an integral role in irrigating upper and lower Yakima River Valley farms (Lillquist 2014). In this part of the planning area, the land is very mountainous and heavily forested, with the Wenatchee National Forest being the primary land owner. Timber harvesting is the major land use in this area.

From its source at Keechelus Lake the Yakima River travels more than 81 miles in a southeasterly direction to the southern boundary of the planning zone. A second river, the Cle Elum River, flows for approximately 8 miles in a southeasterly direction from the foot of the dam on the south end of Cle Elum Lake to its confluence with the Yakima River just west of the town of Cle Elum. A few miles east of Cle Elum a third river, the Teanaway River, joins the Yakima River. This river drains a large watershed north of the Yakima River, and mostly outside of the planning area. From this point east the land becomes increasingly more arid. Erosional and depositional forces play a major role in the makeup of the Yakima River, although eroded material from the Cascades largely replaces what is swept away. Over time, through erosion and deposition, the Yakima River has frequently changed its course over the wide floodplain (Yakima County).

As the river leaves the Cascade Mountains and enters the Columbia Plateau, its waters become critical in importance to the region. From approximately milepost 93 on Interstate 90 eastward, the majority of the area around the river is comprised of shrub-steppe vegetation, where the soil becomes drier away from the river. The mean annual rainfall in the City of Yakima, just south of this planning area, is approximately 8 inches (Yakima County). Irrigation from Yakima River water was essential to the development of farms in the Yakima Valley. Agriculture has become the cornerstone of the region’s economy. The Yakima Valley is known as one of the most productive and diversified farming regions of the world (GYCOC). The main crops include fruit tree crops, such as apples, sweet cherries, and pear, as well as alfalfa, hops, mint, grapes (both wine and table), with vegetables like green beans, peas, and corn common as well.

The topography in the eastern area of the planning zone is flat to gently rolling in the river valley itself, with larger hills outside the valley. Ellensburg is the largest city in the planning area with a population of approximately 19,000. Other towns within the area include Cle Elum, Easton, Kittitas, Ronald, Roslyn, South Cle Elum, and Thorp. South of Ellensburg, the river has formed a large and picturesque canyon. The Yakima River Canyon has been designated a scenic byway, with basalt cliffs rising more than 2,000 feet above the river. It is also known for its year-round sport fishing and as a blue ribbon catch-and release trout stream (WSDOT).

There are no tribal reservations within this planning area. Portions of this area were the traditional homelands of the Pish-wana-pum, the River Rock people. They became part of the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, whose reservation is south of the city of Yakima (GYCOC). In addition to the Yakama Nation, the Colville, Nez Perce, Puyallup, and Tulalip Tribes have potential interests in the area due to their usual and accustomed fishing places.

The Yakima River valley is a major transportation corridor in this part of the state. Interstate 90 is generally located on the south side of the river, while Highway’s 903, 970, and 10 are mainly on the north side of the river. Highway 97 and Interstate 82 near Ellensburg are also present in the river valley. Highway 821 is the only road within the Yakima River Canyon, south of Ellensburg. BNSF railroad tracks also follow the Yakima River through the entire planning area. There are 111.2 miles of track from where they enter the area at Stampede Pass to where the exit at the south end of the Yakima River Canyon. There are two power line transmission corridors in the valley, one on the north side and one on the south side. These power lines bring electricity from the Columbia River Dams and from the windfarms north of Ellensburg to the west side of the state. One of the more unique transportation elements in this area is the Iron Horse Trail, also known as the John Wayne Trail. It is an old railroad bed now used as a hiking and biking trail.

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Portions of Water Resource Inventory Areas Upper Yakima (WRIA 39) fall within the geographic boundaries of this plan.

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Upper Yakima (WRIA 39): 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).

The Yakima River originates in the Cascade Range at the outlet of Keechelus Lake near Snoqualmie Pass and flows southeast to join the Columbia River. The Yakima basin has the most intensive development and use of water in the state of Washington. In 1905, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) developed the Yakima Project to expand the available supply of water. Irrigation districts are the primary recipients and distributors of this federally developed water. As of 2016, approximately 464,000 acres in the Yakima Valley receive water via irrigation each year.

The Yakima Project is separated into seven divisions: Storage, Kittitas, Tieton, Sunnyside, Roza, Kennewick and Wapato. Only two of the divisions are within the YAKU-GRP planning area:

  1. Storage Division: Above the planning area, there are five major lakes used as reservoirs: Bumping, Kachess, Keechelus, Rimrock, and Cle Elum. Since their construction, the reservoirs have been managed by the USBR on behalf of all those living in the Yakima Valley. The reservoirs store water in the winter and release it in the summer, reducing or contributing to the flow in the Yakima River for the Yakima Project, which provides irrigation water for 175 miles on both sides of the river. The total capacity among the five reservoirs is 1,065,670 acre-feet (USBR 2016). Mountain snowpack, known as the “sixth reservoir,” plays a crucial role by capturing additional water that the reservoirs do not have the capacity to retain.
  2. Kittitas Division: Irrigation water for the approximately 59,000 acres of land in the Kittitas Division is diverted from the Yakima River into the Main Canal by the Easton Diversion Dam (RM 202.5) near Easton, Wash. This dam provides water used to irrigate crops in the valley and creates the 240-acre Lake Easton, also a popular state park. The Main Canal carries the water along the south side of the river to a point near Thorp, where it divides into the North and South Branches. The North Branch Canal crosses the Yakima River through a siphon to irrigate land lying on the north side of the river, while the South Branch Canal continues generally southeast from the point of division to irrigate lands lying on the south side of the river.

Other features of the project include diversion dams, power plants, transmission lines, pumping plants, canals, and drains (USBR).

Hydrology in the Yakima Valley includes natural tributaries as well as manmade infrastructure. Tributaries in the YAKU-GRP planning area include rivers (Teanaway, Cle Elum, and Yakima), and numerous creeks.

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Climate and Winds

The climate in the planning area varies widely, as the river descends from the heavy precipitation in the Cascade Mountains, passes through the central Washington foothills and then enters the canyon and plateaus south of Ellensburg. At the upstream end of the planning area at Lake Keechelus, near Snoqualmie Pass, annual snowfall exceeds 221 inches and total precipitation averages 65.8 inches (WRCC 1977). A few miles to the southeast, Cle Elum records 22.5 inches of precipitation and 83 inches of snowfall (WRCC 2016). Ellensburg receives 9.2 inches of annual precipitation, but 35.2 inches of total snowfall. Temperatures in the planning area range from summer highs in the low eighties to average winter lows in the teens, with recorded extremes above 100 in the summers and 30 below zero in winter (WRCC 2016).

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Prevailing winds at the Ellensburg Airport tend to arrive from the northwest, except in November and December when they arrive from the east (WRCC 2002). From April to September the average wind speed is between 10 and 15 mph, and calms to less than 5 mph in the winter. At Yakima Airport, located just south of the planning area, winds blow consistently in from the west. Average wind speeds range from 7-8 mph in Yakima (WRCC 2006).

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Tides and Currents

There are no tidally influenced areas within the planning area. The Yakima River’s flow is moderated by the presence of reservoirs and other irrigation infrastructure. The reservoirs managed by the Yakima Project reduce the river flow in the winter, while water is being stored, and increase from April through August, when water is released for irrigation use.

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Risk Assessment

The Upper Yakima River is plentiful in natural, cultural, and economic resources, all at risk of injury from oil spills. Potential risks to these resources include road systems, rail transportation and facilities, aircraft, recreational boating, and other oil spill risks.

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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 Yakima River. Interstates 90 and 82 are both major highways located in the planning area, and I-90 parallels the river closely for miles in the upper watershed. Several smaller roads run parallel to the river, including State Highway 10 between Cle Elum and Ellensburg, and State Highway 821 through the Yakima Canyon. There are multiple highway bridges, as well as several smaller bridges or causeways where vehicles cross tributaries or small lakes along shore. A vehicle spill onto one of these bridges or roadways can cause fuel or oil to flow from hardened surfaces into the Upper Yakima 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 manifest trains in this area. Manifest trains include: up to four locomotives, a mix of non-oil merchandise cars, and one or more 714-barrel (29,998 gallon) capacity USDOT-approved tank cars carrying refined oil products, such as diesel, lubrication oil, or gasoline. These trains may include emptied tank cars, each with residual quantities of up to 1,800 gallons of 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.

BNSF owns the commercial rail track in this planning area, although other rail companies may operate trains on BNSF tracks. BNSFs Yakima Subdivision runs adjacent to the Yakima River along much of its length, crossing the river four times within the planning area (WA Dept. of Ecology 2014).

Aircraft: There are two small airports within the YAKU-GRP planning area: Easton State Airport and Cle Elum Municipal Airport. Easton State is managed by Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), while the City of Cle Elum manages their municipal airport. Both are primarily used for recreational, law enforcement and emergency purposes (WSDOT). Since both airports are within a half mile of the river, the potential exists for aircraft failures during inbound or outbound flights that result in a spill by releasing aviation fuel to the Upper Yakima River or its tributaries.

Recreational Boating: Accidents involving recreational water craft on the Upper Yakima River have the potential to result in spills of a few gallons of gasoline or diesel fuel. Examples of such accidents might include bilge discharges, vessel collisions, allisions, groundings, fires, sinking, or explosions. Recreational boats on the Yakima are generally small boats, due to the shallow depth of the river in several areas.

Other Spill Risks: Other potential oil spill risks in the area include dam turbine mechanical failures, 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 chapter 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.

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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 the 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 Sections 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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This area 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, 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 species are resident throughout the year; while others are migratory either within the basin or, in many cases, seasonally migrate outside the basin. Many wildlife species found in this area are classified as threatened 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)

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


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


  • Canada lynx [FT]*
  • Gray wolf [FT]*
  • Grizzly bear [FT/SE] *
  • North American wolverine [proposed FT]*


  • Bull trout [FT/SC]
  • Pygmy whitefish [SS]
  • Steelhead [FT/SC]


  • 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, 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.
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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 andwildlife species. The floodplain along the Yakima River contains numerous small wetland and ponds that attract waterfowl.
  • Forest habitat in the Upper Yakima River extends from the high elevation crest of the Cascade Mountains to the vicinity of Cle Elum, Washington. As the Yakima River descends in elevation along this contiguous forest the habitat transitions from alpine forest, to Douglas-fir dominated, and eventually terminating as a ponderosa pine dominated forest that fades into shrub-steppe or agricultural lands east of Cle Elum, Washington.
  • 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 Yakima River from approximately Cle Elum to its confluence with the Columbia River.
  • Restoration sites areas where significant efforts have been expended to restore natural functions in a degraded habitat.

Fish and Shellfish:

  • Northwest salmonid species are present throughout this region, with spawning occurring in the Yakima 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, passerine birds, and great blue herons.
  • 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

Figure 1:

  1. Keechelus Lake (~RM 215): This reservoir is the headwaters for the Yakima River formed by Keechelus Dam at the outlet. A portion of I-90 parallels the eastern shore of the lake. Cutthroat trout, Golden trout, and Kokanee. Wenatchee National Forest lands. Public recreation.
  2. Lake Easton State Park (~RM 203): Lake and stream habitat, osprey abundance, and important amphibian habitat. Public recreation.
  3. Nelson Creek restoration site (~RM 188): Tributary habitat access and refuge for salmon, steelhead, and bull trout.
  4. Confluence of Teanaway and Yakima Rivers (~RM 176): Several raptor nests in this vicinity.
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Figure 2:

  1. Restoration projects (~RM 156): There are three restoration sites to enhance salmon and trout habitat in this are including Dry/Cabin Creek Fish Passage and Screening site, Pott Habitat restoration site, and Reecer Creek Floodplain restoration 2. Several raptor nests in this vicinity.
  2. Raptor nesting area (~RM 153): Several raptor nests in this vicinity.

Figure 3:

  1. Lower Umtanum Creek (~RM 140): Several raptor nests in this vicinity.
  2. Lmuma restoration project (~RM 135): There is a restoration project site to improve off-channel rearing habitat for fish.
  3. Lmuma Creek: Several raptor nests in this vicinity.

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Specific Geographic Areas of Concern – Maps and Descriptions

Figure 1: Specific geographic areas of concern for approximately Keechelus Dam RM 215 to RM 161.

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Figure 2: Specific geographic areas of concern for approximately  RM 161 to RM 147.

Figure 3: Specific geographic areas of concern for approximately RM 147 to RM 128.
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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: YAKU-GRP Cultural Resource Contacts

Contact Phone Email
Washington Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation (360) 586-3065 Rob.Whitlam@dahp.wa.gov
Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation (509) 865-5121 kate@yakama.com
Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation (509) 634-2695 guy.moura@colvilletribes.com
Nez Perce Tribe (208) 621-3893 keithb@nezperce.org
The Puyallup Tribe of Indians (253) 573-7986 brandon.reynon@puyalluptribe.com
Tulalip Tribes (360) 716-2652 ryoung@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov

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.

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 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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