Washington Deschutes GRP

Table of Contents



Site Description

This section provides a description of the physical features, hydrology, climate, and winds in the Washington Deschutes River GRP planning area, and an oil spill risk assessment in Section 2.6. The WADE-GRP planning area covers approximately 312 square miles to the south of Puget Sound. The planning area resides primarily in Thurston, with small portions located in Greys Harbor and Lewis Counties. It fully or partially includes the communities of Lacey, Littlerock, Olympia, Rainier, Tenino, and Tumwater. The northern border of the planning area stops at Capitol Lake, adjacent to the most southerly portion of Puget Sound, which is covered by the South Puget Sound GRP; the WADE planning area does not contain any land adjacent to marine waters. The WADE GRP borders the Chehalis River GRP planning area to the west and southwest. The eastern boundary of the planning area is well within the lowlands, with the base of Mount Rainier more than 30 miles to the east. Joint Base Lewis-McChord and the Nisqually Indian Community border the WADE GRP to the northeast and fall within the Nisqually GRP planning area. No tribal reservations are located here, but along with the Nisqually, the Chehalis, Muckleshoot, Puyallup, Squaxin, and Yakama Tribes all have potential interests in the planning area.

Physical Features

The main physical feature of this planning area is the Deschutes River and its many (at least a dozen) tributaries. The headwaters of the Deschutes River are located to the southeast of Olympia, in the mountainous and heavily forested areas of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. From there the river travels 57 miles in a northwesterly direction until it empties into Capital Lake and Budd Inlet. Approximately 25 miles of the Deschutes River fall within this planning area. A second river, the Skookumchuck River, flows approximately 12 miles in an east to west direction through the southern part of the planning area. This river, along with its numerous tributaries, such as Hanaford Creek, flows into the Chehalis River. Small farms, suburban development, and the urban area around Olympia characterize Land use surrounding the middle and lower Deschutes River (City of Tumwater 2017). Olympia is at the northern boundary of the plan. The northwestern side consists of the Capital State Forest surrounding Capital Peak, while the eastern side includes portions of the Fort Lewis Military Reservation. Although both of these areas are heavily forested, only a small portion in the southeast corner of the planning area, characterized by heavily forested timberland, is used for logging.

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The name “Deschutes” comes from the French for “of the falls.” A series of falls are present along the river including one in the upper Deschutes at Deschutes Falls Park and one at the present town of Tumwater. Tumwater Falls has been an active area for development from the time the first American/European settlers arrived in Washington, in 1845, to present times. Initially the power of the falls was used to mill lumber, then in 1890 a hydroelectric plant was constructed at the dam to create electricity, which led the Capital Brewing Company to build a brewery beside the falls in 1896 and the power of the falls was used to brew beer until the facility closed in 2003 (City of Tumwater 2017).

Three features within this GRP planning area have seen significant alterations by man. The Deschutes River used to flow directly into Budd Inlet at the bottom of Tumwater Falls. In 1951 a dam was built, at what is now 5th Avenue in Olympia, in order to create Capital Lake. This freshwater lake resulted in a reflecting pool for the Capital building. A second significant alteration in the area was the development of the Black Lake Ditch. This ditch was built in the 1920’s to drain wetlands for agricultural and industrial use. Now Black Lake, located just west of Tumwater, drains to both the north and south. Black Lake Ditch, which flows north for more than 12 miles, connects Black Lake to Percival Creek, Budd Inlet, and Puget Sound. The south outlet connects the lake to the Black River, Chehalis River, and eventually Grays Harbor (City of Tumwater 2017). The third major alteration was the building of the Skookumchuck Dam and Reservoir. This four-mile long reservoir, most of which is outside the planning area, was built in 1970 to provide water to the Centralia Coal Plant. In 1990, a small powerhouse was built to produce hydropower from the site.

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The Washington Deschutes River (25.1 Miles) is the major surface water source in the watershed. The WADE-GRP planning area also includes: Black Lake Ditch (12.1 Miles), Blooms Ditch (8.5 Miles), Hanaford Creek (8.7 Miles), Salmon Creek (7.5 Miles), Skookumchuck River (11.8 Miles), and Waddell Creek (10.9 Miles), as well as smaller sections of numerous other creeks, ditches, and wetlands.

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Annual flow in the Deschutes River averages 393 cfs at Tumwater, while flow at the mouth of the river is somewhat higher. Flow in the watershed’s rivers and streams comes from two sources, overland runoff during wetter periods, and ground water discharge. Ground water sustains streamflow in this area and are usually stable during the dry summer months (WA Dept. of Ecology). Of the water allocated in the Deschutes watershed, 87% is from ground water, with the surface water allocation (~13%) primarily used for irrigation (WA Dept. of Ecology).

Average annual precipitation in the watershed is 51 inches per year, with approximately 40 to 60 inches per year falling in the lower elevations, and 60 to 90 inches in the higher elevations that commonly see winter snowfall. The majority of the precipitation (80%) falls between October and March, while less than seven percent falls between June and August (WA Dept. of Ecology).

The Deschutes River is quickly modified by local rainfall and runoff, rising and falling faster than any other river in Thurston County, and causing minor flooding (low-lying roads and pasturelands) when the river level reaches a gage height of about 9.5 feet. Many residences in the area are at risk of flooding. The Deschutes River is determined to have reached flood stage when water levels reach 11 feet; when the water reaches 13.5 feet, there is widespread risk of flooding for roadways and communities.7

Portions of WRIA 11 (Nisqually), WRIA 13 (Deschutes), WRIA 14 (Kennedy-Goldsborough), and WRIA 23 (Upper Chehalis) 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 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.

WRIA 11 (Nisqually): This watershed consists of the Nisqually River and numerous tributary creeks and streams. The lower Nisqually Watershed is one of the most intensely farmed basins in western Washington. The annual precipitation in the Nisqually Watershed ranges from 40 inches in the lower Nisqually Watershed to over 120 inches per year in the Cascade Mountains.

WRIA 13 (Deschutes): The Deschutes Watershed consists of the Deschutes River and numerous tributary creeks and streams. This watershed is one of the most intensely farmed basins in western Washington, and the annual precipitation ranges from 40 inches to over 80 inches per year.

WRIA 14 (Kennedy-Goldsborough): The Kennedy-Goldsborough Watershed consists of the Kennedy, Skookum, Mill/Gosnell, Goldsborough, Johns creeks and other creeks and streams. Annual precipitation in the Kennedy-Goldsborough Watershed ranges from 40 to 80 inches per year.

WRIA 23 (Upper Chehalis): Annual precipitation in the Lower and Upper Chehalis Watersheds ranges from 40 inches in the lowland valleys to over 100 inches in the Cascade and Willapa foothills. Most of the precipitation arrives during the winter months when water demands are the lowest. Only a fraction becomes available for human and economic uses.

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Climate and Winds

The climate in the Washington Deschutes planning area, within Thurston and Lewis Counties, is mild. The area gets between 49 and 75 inches of rain per year, above the US average of 39 inches; however, the snowfall ranges between 9 and 16 inches, lower than the average US city, which gets 26 inches of snow per year. Although raining a great deal of the year, the perceived humidity comfort levels do not vary but remain close to zero throughout the year. The number of days with any measurable precipitation averages between 100 and 105, and there are usually between 136-138 sunny days per 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 typically vary between 34 and 81 degrees. The July high is 76-77 degrees, while the January low is 32-35 degrees (Sperling’s Best 2017) The average hourly wind speed in the WADE-GRP planning area does not vary significantly over the course of the year, remaining within 0.4 miles per hour of 2.1 miles per hour throughout, although wind direction does change, with winds coming predominantly from the west from April to October and from the south the remainder of the year (Weather Spark).

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Tides and Currents

There are no tidally influenced areas within the planning area. The flow speed on the main fork of the Deschutes River at the E Street Bridge gage (river mile 0.7) has an annual mean velocity of 444 cfs, while at the gage near Rainier (river mile 22.75) the river flow speed has an annual mean velocity of 256 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. Sloughs and side channels will have significantly lower flow speeds commensurate with their channel width, depth, and vegetation.

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Risk Assessment

The Washington Deschutes River is plentiful in natural, cultural, and economic resources, all at risk of injury from oil spills. Potential oil spill risks include, but aren’t limited to, road transportation, rail transportation, oil pipelines, aircraft, 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 Washington Deschutes River. Major roadways include: Interstate 5 (14.4 Miles), Hwy 101 (2.6 Miles), Hwy 121 (9.1 Miles), Hwy 507 (21.4 Miles), and Hwy 510 (5.0 Miles). Interstate 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. I-5 crosses the Washington Deschutes River in the planning area, and there are several smaller highways with bridges or causeways where vehicles cross the Deschutes, the Skookumchuck, 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 planning area from the south at the town of Bucoda and exits to the NE near the town of Nisqually, crossing both the Skookumchuck and Washington Deschutes Rivers, as well as numerous tributaries.

More than 44 miles of BNSF rail track, 38 miles of Union Pacific (UP) track, and 22.5 miles of Tacoma Eastern Railroad’s Mountain Division track are present in this planning area. Trains from both of the major carriers, BNSF and UP, generally contain mixed cargo loads, and may include the transport of hazardous materials, including dilbit and Bakken crude oil. Tacoma Mountain Railway (a division of Tacoma Eastern Railroad) operates a line between Chehalis and Tacoma that enters the planning area east of Rainier and continues west to Maytown where it leaves the planning area before travelling south, parallel to I-5, toward Chehalis. In April of 2017, Tacoma Rail reported that it did not move unit trains of crude within the planning area. While the main spill risk in the planning area is from the movement of refined petroleum products (i.e. gasoline, diesel fuel) and other chemicals, the main spill risk from trains on the Tacoma Mountain line are from locomotive saddle tanks.

Oil Pipelines: One petroleum pipeline, the BP Olympic Pipe Line, passes through this area with more than 17 miles of 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.

Aircraft: The Olympia Regional Airport is the main airport within the planning area. Owned and managed by the Port of Olympia, it is a public use, general aviation airport located four miles south of Olympia and is primarily used for recreational and transit purposes. There are currently no airlines providing scheduled passenger service to this airport. Several other small private landing fields are also in the planning area. The potential exists for aircraft failures during inbound or outbound flights that result in a spill by releasing aviation fuel to either the Washington Deschutes River, the Skookumchuck River, or one of their tributaries.

Recreational Boating: Accidents involving recreational watercraft on the Washington Deschutes and Skookumchuck 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.

Other Spill Risks: Other potential oil spill risks in the area include road run-off during rain events, fuel storage areas (including waste oil storage), on-shore or near shore construction activities where heavy equipment is being operated, and the migration of spilled oil through soil on lands adjacent to the river or along creek/stream banks.

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Resources at Risk

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

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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 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 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 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]*
  • Northern spotted owl [FT/SE]*
  • Streaked horned lark [FT/SE]*
  • Yellow-billed cuckoo [FT]*


  • Mazama (Western) pocket gopher – includes: Olympia, Tenino, Roy Prairie, and Yelm subspecies [FT/ST]*
  • Western gray squirrel [ST]*


  • Bull trout [FT]
  • Chinook salmon [FT/SC]
  • Olympic mudminnow [SS]
  • Steelhead [FT]


  • Oregon spotted Frog [FT/SE]
  • Western pond turtle [SE]


  • Mardon skipper [SE]*
  • Taylor’s checkerspot [FE/SE]*


  • Golden paintbrush [FT]
  • Kincaid’s lupine [FT]
  • Marsh sandwort [FE]
  • Nelson’s checker-mallow [FT]
  • Water howellia [FT]

*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 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.
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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.
  • Restoration sites where significant efforts have been expended to restore natural functions in a degraded habitat.


  • Salmonids species (resident and anadromous) are present within this region, with spawning occurring throughout the area’s rivers and streams. Juvenile salmonids use these streams for feeding, rearing, and as migration corridors.
  • Resident species including trout (cutthroat and rainbow) and various warm water species(bass, etc.) are also present throughout this area.


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Listed butterflies are present in some the prairie habitats of this region.


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Specific Geographic Areas of Concern – Overview

(Note: May include sensitive sites in bordering GRP regions – see map)

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  1. Capital Lake: Freshwater riverine, lake, and wetland habitats. Designated biodiversity area. Chum, Coho and Chinook salmon. Cutthroat and steelhead trout. Important waterfowl concentration and breeding area (including cavity-nesting ducks). Raptors and heron presence. Public recreation area.
  2. Watershed Park: Freshwater riverine and wetland habitats. Chum, Coho, and Chinook salmon. Public recreation area.
  3. Woodland Creek/Lake Lois Community Park: Freshwater riverine, lake, and wetland habitats. Chum, Coho, and Chinook salmon. Cutthroat and steelhead trout. Waterfowl(including cavity-nesting ducks). Public recreation area.
  4. McAllister Creek and adjacent wetlands: Riverine and freshwater wetland habitat. Chinook, chum, Coho, pink, and sockeye salmon. Cutthroat trout and steelhead trout. Waterfowl breeding area (including cavity-nesting wood ducks). Marbled murrelet and western grey squirrel presence. Restoration area.
  5. Black Lake/Dempsey Creek/Black River: Lake, riverine and freshwater wetland habitats. Salmonid presence including Chinook and Coho salmon. Cutthroat, rainbow and steelhead trout. Largemouth bass also present. Oregon spotted frog breeding area. Significant waterfowl (ducks and geese) concentration and breeding area. Wildlife refuge and restoration projects.
  6. Deschutes River/Pioneer Park: Freshwater riverine and wetland habitat. Chum, Coho and Chinook salmon. Cutthroat and steelhead trout. Public recreation and restoration area.
  7. Pattison Lake and wetlands to north: Freshwater lake and wetland habitats. Raptor and waterfowl concentration area. Resident fish. Mazama pocket gopher.
  8. Mima mounds: Prairie and freshwater wetland habitats. Vegetation restoration site. Listed butterfly species presence.
  9. Wetlands (near Littlerock and 93rd roads): Freshwater wetland habitat. Salmonid presence including Coho salmon. Cutthroat and steelhead trout. Oregon spotted frog breeding area.
  10. Olympia Airport: Freshwater wetland habitat. Streaked horned lark, Mazama pocket gopher, and Taylor’s checkerspot presence documented.
  11. Millersylvania Park and adjacent wetlands: Prairie, lake and freshwater wetland habitat. Coho salmon. Cutthroat trout. Listed butterfly and Mazama pocket gopher presence. Oregon spotted frog breeding area. Raptor and waterfowl (ducks and geese) concentration and breeding area.
  12. Spurgeon Creek restoration site: Freshwater riverine and wetland habitat. Chum, Coho, and Chinook salmon. Steelhead trout. Cavity-nesting ducks.
  13. Eaton Creek: Freshwater wetland habitat. Rainbow trout. Waterfowl concentration area. Mazama pocket gopher presence.
  14. Scatter Creek (near Tenino): Freshwater wetland habitat. Coho salmon. Cutthroat and rainbow trout. Raptors and cavity-nesting ducks. Listed butterfly and Mazama pocket gopher presence.
  15. Wetlands (near Military and Rainier roads): Freshwater riverine and wetland habitat. Chinook, chum, and Coho salmon. Cutthroat and steelhead trout. Mazama pocket gopher and western grey squirrel presence.
  16. Skookumchuck River: Freshwater riverine and wetland habitats. Chinook and Coho salmon. Cutthroat, rainbow, and steelhead trout. Elk. Raptor and waterfowl concentration and breeding area (including cavity-nesting ducks).


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Specific Geographic Areas of Concern – Maps and Descriptions

Figure 1: Specific geographic areas of concern for the Washington Deschutes River 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 (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: WADE-GRP Cultural Resource

Contact Phone Email
Washington Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation (360) 586-3080 Rob.Whitlam@dahp.wa.gov
Chehalis Confederated Tribes 360-709-1747 dpen@chehalistribe.org
Muckleshoot Tribe Archaeologist 253-876-3272 laura.murphy@muckleshoot.nsn.us
Nisqually Tribes, THPO 360-456-5221 x2180 wall.jackie@nisqually-nsn.gov
The Puyallup Tribe of Indians 253-573-7986 brandon.reynon@puyalluptribe.com
Squaxin Island Tribe, THPO 360-432-3850 rfoster@squaxin.us
Yakama Tribes, 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.

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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