Environmental Review
Chehalis Basin Strategy

Reducing flood damage and restoring aquatic species habitat in the Chehalis Basin

The Chehalis River Basin is at a turning point. Peak flood levels have been rising in the Basin over the last 30 years; a trend that may continue into the future. Aquatic species and their habitats are significantly degraded in the Basin. If action is not taken, the current course could result in Endangered Species Act listings and related restrictions.

Under the direction of the governor in 2014, the Chehalis Basin Work Group developed a recommended suite of actions that would reduce flood damages in the near term, restore habitat for aquatic species, and consider long-term, large-scale flood damage reduction actions. The recommended suite of actions is known as the Chehalis Basin Strategy. The Strategy is a comprehensive and integrated approach to implementing flood damage reduction and aquatic species restoration actions in the Chehalis Basin. In response to the Work Group’s recommendation, we are preparing the Chehalis Basin Strategy Programmatic SEPA Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which will assess the effectiveness and potential environmental impacts of varying options designed to reduce flood damage and restore aquatic species habitat in the Basin. The EIS will include the Work Group's recommended suite of actions from 2014.

The draft Chehalis Basin Strategy Programmatic EIS is expected to be issued in October 2016, followed by an opportunity for public review and comment. Ecology anticipates releasing the final Programmatic EIS in early 2017.

Programmatic Environmental review

A Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement is different from a typical, project-level Environmental Impact Statement. Normally, an EIS would focus on a specific proposed project or action. With the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, we are looking broadly at program-level issues related to implementing an integrated strategy in the Basin. The assessments in a Programmatic EIS are typically more general and more qualitative than those in a project-specific EIS.

Once the Chehalis Basin Strategy Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement has been drafted, the public comment period is complete and comments have been summarized, Governor Jay Inslee will use it as a roadmap for funding and further action in the Chehalis Basin. More detailed environmental review will be conducted when specific projects have been selected for implementation.

Ecology is the lead agency in developing the Programmatic EIS for the Chehalis Basin Strategy. The elements of the final strategy will help to prevent economic and cultural losses for tribal fisheries, residents, local farms, businesses and others who depend on and enjoy the Chehalis Basin. During the past several years, Ecology has worked in coordination with local governments and community leaders to study this dynamic region. The agency has collaborated with residents, stakeholders and other agencies to identify potential solutions that will reduce the risk of flood damage and restore aquatic species and other natural resources in the basin. The Programmatic EIS is building off of this completed work.

Steps in the environmental review process and estimated timeline

 2015-2016 - Prepare draft programmatic environmental impact statement (EIS): Ecology’s consultant, under the direction of Ecology, is preparing the draft SEPA Programmatic EIS according to the results of the scoping process. The purpose of the programmatic EIS is to assist the public, participating agencies and entities, and decision makers in evaluating conceptual approaches to reducing flood damage and restoring aquatic species habitat in the Chehalis Basin. The Programmatic EIS will assess the effectiveness of identified alternatives in meeting the purpose and need, as well as provide information on potential environmental impacts of each action alternative.

We are here (arrow)Fall 2016 – Issue draft programmatic EIS, open public comment period, hold public hearings: The draft programmatic EIS will be circulated so that the public and other agencies and entities are given an opportunity to comment on the accuracy and content before it is finalized. This process will include public hearings. Ecology will consider and respond to public comments in the final programmatic EIS.

Early 2017 – Issue final programmatic environmental impact statement: The final programmatic EIS will include responses to the comments made on the draft EIS.

Public involvement opportunities

  • Public comment period for draft Programmatic EIS: September 29, 2016 through November 14, 2016.

There are several ways to comment:

Online comment form or mail comments to:

Chehalis Basin Strategy EIS, c/o Anchor QEA
720 Olive Way, Suite 1900
Seattle, Washington 98101

  • Public open houses and hearings on draft Programmatic EIS: October 18 and 27, 2016
Date: October 18, 2016
Time: Open House starts at 6:00 pm
Presentation starts at 6:30 pm
Public hearing starts at 7:00 pm
Location: Veterans Memorial Museum
  100 SW Veterans Way
  Chehalis,  Washington 98532

 

Date: October 27, 2016
Time: Open House starts at 6:00 pm
Presentation starts at 6:30 pm
Public hearing starts at 7:00 pm
Location: Montesano City Hall
  112 N. Main Street
  Montesano, Washington 98563

Assistance for persons with disabilities: To request ADA accommodation for disabilities, or printed materials in a format for the visually impaired, call the Shorelands and Environmental Assistance Program main reception at 360-407-6800. Persons with impaired hearing may call Washington Relay Service at 711. Persons with speech disability may call TTY at 877-833-6341.

 

Related information

Additional resources

  • State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA)
  • La Cuenca de Chehalis tiene problemas con inundaciones y la degradación del hábitat acuático.  El Departamento de Ecología del Estado de Washington invita al público a comentar sobre las acciones que se quiere usar para corregir los problemas.  El periodo de comentario público es del 29 de septiembre hasta el 31 de octubre, 2016.  Para obtener más información, favor de comunicarse con Gretchen Newman al (360) 407-6097 o por correo electrónico a preguntas@ecy.wa.gov

 

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PROJECT INFORMATION

Location:

WRIA #22 (Lower Chehalis)

WRIA #23 (Upper Chehalis)

Counties: Portions of Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, and Thurston

Region: Southwest Regional Office (SWRO)

Ecology Point of Contact:
Chrissy Bailey
chrissy.bailey@ecy.wa.gov

Project website:
www.chehalisbasinstrategy.com