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Chehalis Basin Strategy

Category: In the News | Posted by: Paul Moinester | 11/15/16 | Comments: 0

Summary: The Chehalis Basin Strategy is an ambitious collection of potential actions to both improve and restore river habitat and reduce flood damage. We are working to ensure that the outcome of this plan benefits wild fish.

Washington’s Chehalis River Basin is the second largest river basin in the state and once supported large runs of wild steelhead and salmon. Unfortunately, these runs are now a fraction of their historic levels, and their future hangs in the balance as the State of Washington works to finalize its Chehalis Basin Strategy.

The Chehalis Basin has suffered from destructive flooding for decades, but these floods have become increasingly frequent and harmful. In an attempt to mitigate these floods, the State, local leaders, and the people of the Chehalis Basin are working to create the Chehalis Basin Strategy, a collection of potential actions that form a basin-wide strategy to reduce flood damage and improve/restore river habitat.

Some of these potential actions benefit wild fish such as the plan to restore over 100 miles of riverside habitat, reconnect the floodplain, and remove fish passage barriers. However, there are also destructive proposals on the table like the plan to build a large dam on the Upper Chehalis. Currently, an Environmental Impact Statement is being conducted to study the impacts of these plans, and we are working to ensure that this strategy will benefit wild steelhead.

Recently, the Wild Steelhead Coalition joined with American Rivers, Citizens for a Clean Harbor, Trout Unlimited, and Washington Wild to submit comments to the Washington Department of Ecology expressing our support for a strategic approach that conserves wild fish, restores critical habitat, and protects the people of the Chehalis Basin. You can view these joint comments here.

Later this year, the Governor will propose which of the alternatives, or some combination of them, should be considered, and next year the legislature will determine what further studies and actions will be funded. Any major project will then have to go through a detailed project-level Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which will include further opportunities for public input. Learn more about planning underway to reduce flood impacts and restore habitat in the Chehalis Watershed here.

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