Ecology grant will pay for ‘study’ to change focus from people protection to river restoration

by Sue Forde, Citizen Review Online

Clallam County, WA – 7/7/02 - Clallam County accepted a grant from the Washington State Dept. of Ecology (DOE) on July 1, 2002 which, at first glance, appears to offer assistance to the Kinkade Island residents who have recently endured flooding.  The grant is for $40,000, and requires the county to kick in $10,000, making a total of $50,000 for the “study”. (Remember, grant money is taxpayers’ money.)

The “Emergency Flood Prevention Project: Kinkade Island Reach Study” – appears to be looking at ways to help people during times of flooding at Kinkade Island.[1] But names can be deceiving, and upon closer inspection, this grant is ill-named.  It should be named “a study of the entire Dungeness River to determine how to change the focus from flood protection to ‘river restoration’”.

Under the pretense of “flood prevention”, the grant work itself will be delving into a much broader scope, including changing the existing flood hazard rules from being “people-friendly” toward restoration of the river toward a pre-human condition[2].

The grant itself offers only a hint of the outcome intended from this grant, and possibly others to come.  [3]  It talks about “public participation” when there is none allowed until the public hearings at the end of the process.[4]

It isn’t until one reads the request to the county commissioners to hire a “qualified consultant” from DCD Salmon Recovery Planner Cathy Lear[5], more real information is given about the true purpose of the grant.[6]  The request letter was dated June 19, 2002.

The grant project, she says, will “develop an amendment to the existing CFHMP [Comprehensive Flood Hazard Management Plan] based on the Recommended Restoration Projects for the Dungeness River; Equity in Stewardship, Strategies for Protecting Critical Areas in Clallam County; the existing CFHMP; and other relevant documents.  The study basin includes the Dungeness River from its mouth upstream to the headwaters, and will be integrated into WRIA 18 watershed and salmon recovery plan.”

Where is the assistance to owners along the river with flood control in this?  It doesn’t, indicates Lear.  What it does is change the focus from protecting river owners to river “restoration.”

The original flood control management plan focused on “protecting life and property from flood hazard in the 100-year flood plain”.[7]

Since then, she suggests, too many “people-induced” problems have occurred along the river. citing dikes, dike repairs and bridges as part of the “problem.” [8]

Lear goes on to cite what the agencies have accomplished toward changing that direction toward “river restoration.”  She writes: “Throughout the last decade, intensive efforts in river restoration, salmonid recovery, and watershed planning have increased public [read DRMT] and agency awareness of Dungeness River ‘issues’.”[9]

Lear then offers the “solution” – “The DRMT and Clallam County have recognized the need to modify the 1990 Flood Plan to broaden its compass, emphasizing issues of river restoration and salmon recovery together with historic concerns for protecting life and property with appropriate land use policies. 

No longer do human life and property hold the greatest emphasis – now its “river restoration and salmon recovery” first. The control of the humans will be through more land use regulations.

The work program outlined in Lear’s proposal letter states: “The planning area for this purpose should be considered as the Dungeness River from its headwaters to the mouth including its prehistoric floodplains as defined by the report Physical Processes, Human Impacts, and Restoration Issues of the Lower Dungeness River (U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), 2002).”[10]

Included in this program are “updates to chapter 4, Dungeness Basin Regulatory Programs including Growth Management Act, Clean Water District, Dungeness-Quilcene Water Resources Plan, Critical Areas Ordinance, Clallam County Shoreline Master Program and effects of Endangered Species Act listings.”  Other programs mentioned include “Equity in Stewardship: Strategies for protecting critical areas in Clallam County, Recommended Restoration Projects for the Dungeness River, and Open Space/Timberland Code, Comprehensive Irrigation District Management Plan (in draft form), and watershed planning efforts.”  (We’ve been overtaken by “planners”!)[11]

Another “task” mentioned by Lear is the use of “models” to determine flood levels and river reaches to consider; to organize and report results from a workshop/focus-group convened to “explore and recommend solutions” (most likely the DRMT or a subcommittee of the DRMT, working toward “pre-determined outcomes”).

The goal of “reconciliation of flood hazard protection issues with those of river corridor restoration/protection, recovery/protection of fish and other aquatic species and their habitats, and development pressure should be considered.”

This grant, based upon what Lear has written, leans toward “river restoration” and “fish habitat” over protecting people and their properties.  From other documents referenced, the goal is to remove people from the river property and place it into government ownership and/or control.

This is a prime example of how the citizens’ hard-earned tax dollars are at work.  Consider writing the county commissioners or showing up at a meeting to let your voice be heard.  It will be unexpected, to say the least.

[1]   (One home was lost to the flood rivers and another threatened over the past two years. What the grant application fails to state is that both could have been prevented; in the case of the lost home, the county would not allow the owner to protect his home with rock riprap; in the other instance, the channel to a creek was opened up, possibly through county work, which created the problem.)

[2] We hear a lot about this word “restore”.  What does it really mean?  We went to the U.S. Department of Commerce “Stream Corridor Restoration” site to find a definition.  Here are several: “Ecological restoration” -the process of returning an ecosystem as closely as possible to ‘predisturbance’ conditions and functions. [as in, before European settlers], as compared to “Rehabilitation” - making the land useful again after a disturbance. Involves establishing stable landscapes that support the ‘natural ecosystem’ mosaic’. (from the US Department of Commerce “Stream Corridor Restoration - principles, process, practices”. ( or “Reclamation” - implies the process of serving a “utilitarian human purpose”

[3] The grant states, “A study of the reach [each area of the Dungeness River is defined as ‘reaches’ – this one talks particularly about the ‘Kinkade Island Reach’] will help to determine specific river dynamics and what effect, if any, some actions (such as dike removal or bank protection) may have.”

[4] The grant includes “public participation” in the way of “periodic updates to the Dungeness River Management Team (DRMT), as well as other public entities [various agencies of federal and state government].”  As anyone who has attended a DRMT meeting can attest, there is no “public participation” allowed – the “Team” consists primarily of agency people and one or two token citizens, and operates on a consensus-based method.  The “public” or “audience” is allowed only five minutes for comment before and after their meetings, held middays on a weekday. ( See See The DRMT – a citizen-based body?)

[5] DCD [Clallam County Department of Community Development] “Salmon Recovery Planner” Cathy Lear has been involved with other projects along the river, including the proposed buyout of property owners at River’s End, near the mouth of the Dungeness River, ex-officio member of the North Olympic Land Trust (NOLT), which entity buys up property and/or conservation easements along the river.

[6] The request letter was signed by Cathy Lear, Salmon Recovery Planner on DCD memorandum, entitled “Request for Proposal: Amendment to Dungeness River Comprehensive Flood Hazard Management Plan

[7] Under “Background”, Lear writes: “The 1990 “Dungeness River Comprehensive Flood Control Management Plan” concentrated primarily on protecting life and property from flood hazard in the 100-year flood plain as defined in the 1989 FEMA Flood Insurance Study for Clallam County.”  (Too many studies!)

[8] .  “Substantial changes in the river corridor since completion of the 1990 Plan include: new bridges at Highway 101 and Old Olympic Highway; extension of the Dungeness Meadows dike; reconstruction of a portion of the Haller dike; bank stabilization and channel protection downstream of Railroad Bridge and upstream of Schoolhouse Bridge; and various gravel trap and large woody debris modifications.” [Note that all of these mentioned have been accomplished by “man”.] 

[9] Included in these efforts, she mentions the Dungeness-Quilcene Water Resources Management Plan of 1994, a state-funded pilot project for watershed planning.  (A “pilot” project is a test project, to see how something works before it’s pushed on the rest of the watersheds in the state.)  The results of the DQ Plan, according to Lear,  included

1.                   an interim agreement between the state Dept. of Fisheries and Wildlife and the irrigation users associations to “protect” instream flows in low-flow season.  (Instream flow measuring methods use bunk science.) In April 1998, the Washington State Department of Ecology and the members of the Dungeness River Water Users Association formalized a memorandum creating a temporary trust water right under Chapter 90.42 RCW. This agreement describes the process of creating a permanent trust water right for future irrigation and instream flows and states that no more than 50% of the flow of the Dungeness River may be diverted. To assist the Dungeness River Water Users Association with the implementation of this agreement, Ecology has installed five flow monitoring stations on selected irrigation ditches (DOE Website -

2.                   Formation of the DRMT “watershed council”

3.                   Dungeness River Restoration Work Group which wrote a “plan” to “restore” the Dungeness River, (which includes dike removal and buying out property owners along the river);

4.                   Hydrogeologic assessment and river seepage analyses conducted by USGS and DOE as phases of ground/surface water explorations; (The move here is to attempt to make a connection between the river and the area’s wells – which was rebutted by the local well drillers);

5.                   Development of a comprehensive water conservation plan for agricultural water use, a trust water right agreement, and major conservation projects to conserve irrigation diversions; (this includes enclosing irrigation ditches into piping, which will effectively reduce the water entering the aquifer – the result could be the return of the Dungeness Valley to the desert it was before the irrigation ditches were built.)

6.                   Salmonid recovery planning and projects resulting from ESA determinations and WA 2496 salmon recovery legislation

7.                   Studies involving the Bureau of Reclamation, USGS, and local and state entities of the potential for channel, dikes, and estuarine changes to improve flood protection, aquatic habit, river function, and appropriate land use regulations; and

8.                   Continued watershed planning under RCW 90.82 watershed planning legislation.

[10] The author has not been able to locate this report, but did find the “Vision Statement” for the Bureau of Reclamation, which reads: “ The mission of the Bureau of Reclamation is to manage, develop, and protect water and related resources in an environmentally and economically sound manner in the interest of the American public.” (

[11] Also included in the program are a “review of chapter 8, Recommended Plan” to “provide details about recommendations…that are planned for implementation (notes recorded from presentation of implementation of river projects by Joel Freudenthal, former County Habitat Biologist…” (Freudenthal was demoted for his involvement in the loss of the home along the Dungeness River; is not a ‘biologist’, and now works as in Yakima County Public Works Department, Yakima, WA.)

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