The Strait of Juan de Fuca Geographic Response Plan (GRP) had its last full-update and review in March, 2003. Since then, the plan has seen interim updates and recently, the addition of a new section concerning the risks posed by spills of non-floating oil.

Update Timeline for the Strait of Juan de Fuca GRP

The Strait of Juan de Fuca GRP was opened for a full update in January of 2018, followed by 14 months of fieldwork and meetings with tribes, ports, federal, state and local agencies, landowners, contractors, and many other interested parties. Fieldwork was conducted on nearly every response strategy in the plan, and proposed updates were designed and drafted. An Ecology review panel in March of 2019 identified the need for further discussions and fieldwork before the plan would be ready to publish. In April 2019, staff turnover paused the update while the plan was reassigned to me, Wendy Buffett.

Ecology conducting fieldwork with the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe. Near Sequim Bay, November 2018.

In February of 2020, the process continued with meetings between Ecology and representatives of the Makah Tribe, Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, and Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe to discuss next steps. A day of field visits was planned for later that spring. On March 13, 2020 the COVID-19 lockdown started and all field work was canceled while both Ecology and the tribes pivoted to supporting emergency COVID response and began working from home. In the meantime, non-floating oil response information was created and added to several GRPs, including the Strait of Juan de Fuca, to meet a legislative mandate.

NWIFC and the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe discussing GRP strategies with Ecology, MSRC, Andeavor, and the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe. Elwha River estuary, May 2021.

In May 2021, a small group met at the mouth of the Elwha River to discuss issues that had come up during a virtual Worst-Case Drill a few weeks before. Staff from Ecology, Andeavor Port Angeles Terminal, MSRC, the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, and the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission redesigned draft strategies on the Elwha and discussed next steps for the plan. I also began converting the old plan to the new web format, to allow incremental updates both before and after the full publication. Since vaccinations had eased several group’s safety restrictions, field work was restarted. In July 2021, I conducted a day of field visits with representatives from the Makah and MSRC Neah Bay. A second visit two weeks later was cancelled due to a local COVID outbreak, followed by the tightening of Ecology’s safety protocols in response to the delta variant surge.

Members of the Makah Tribe, who work as oil spill response contractors at MSRC’s Neah Bay office, in the field with a timber company representative and Ecology staff. Near the Pysht River estuary, July 2021.

Current Status

Ecology is currently updating strategies based on recent in-person and virtual consultations with the Makah tribe. Additional consultations with other tribes, agencies, and interested parties will occur over the next several months until all parties are happy with the updated strategies. Some field visits may occur as needed and when possible. During this time, I will continue the GRP update process and some updated strategies will overwrite their older versions in the online plan. Eventually, all older sections of the plan will be replaced with new versions, and the fully updated plan will be posted for a 30 day public comment period. After final edits, the plan will be published.

Questions and Requests for Meetings

If you have questions, or wish to request a virtual meeting, please reach out to me at or 360-791-4325 and I will be happy to talk with you or your group.