Snohomish County Virtual Open House: Preserving Our Rivers, Fish and Farms 

Snohomish County and Sustainable Lands Strategy Partners (SLS) have developed a massive, and important undertaking to restore the Skykomish River, its floodplains, and to preserve its key resources. Their next step is to involve affected communities in their decision making. The Skykomish River has extensive ecological ties to many groups which makes this a delicate process of finding solutions that work for all involved parties, including residents, farmers, Native American communities, environmental groups, and of course the salmon.

SLS Partners believes no person or group should be expected to accept a net loss so someone else can gain. They strive for “win-win” agreements, in which all parties see more gain than loss under any SLS project.

To provide opportunities for all parties to be involved, a new partnership program, Community Floodplain Solutions (CFS), is hosting a virtual open house to share information with residents living within the lower Skykomish River floodplain over the course of two weeks, from Jan. 22 through Feb. 5.  This is self-guided and available at https://mplshdrshared.com/snoco-cfs-virtual-open-house/  Please provide your feedback.

“We are aware of flooding-related frustrations Sky Valley residents have been experiencing,” said Snohomish County CFS Program Manager, Jessica Hamill. “Integrated floodplain management programs like CFS are relatively new to Snohomish County and can provide ideas and solutions for residents while also supporting the diverse interests along our rivers. Landowner participation and local support are needed to achieve long-term benefits for farms, fish, and flood management. Hosting this open house to exchange ideas is the first of many outreach efforts.”

Through these virtual open houses, CFS is hoping community members will learn about CFS goals and the project timeline, help identify and provide feedback on potential floodplain project benefits and impacts and find out about landowner programs and how to get involved. This includes voluntary incentive programs for interested property owners along the Skykomish River.

With the impact of flooding and erosion on farmland, businesses, and residential properties as well as forceful closure of local roads, there has been a continued loss of critical salmon habitat. With these essential ecosystems disappearing, recovery of Chinook salmon and the Southern Resident Orca is becoming more critical.

In June 2018, the Tulalip Tribes and the City of Snohomish finalized an agreement to work together to restore the Pilchuck River which involved removing a diversion dam southeast of Granite Falls. This act alone helped restore natural river conditions and benefited several culturally important species such as Chinook, Coho, and Steelhead.

Community Floodplain Solutions is a collaboration between Snohomish County, the Sustainable Lands Strategy, and the Conservation District. More than a dozen other organizations are also partnering in this effort, including Tulalip Tribes, the Washington Farmland Trust and Floodplains by Design Partnership; all with the goal to improve floodplain management.

For more information on this initiative and the opportunity to check out the virtual open house, visit snohomishcountywa.gov/CFS.

Compiled by Elise Detloff, Everett Post Team