W.T. Wooten Floodplain Management Plan (2014)
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W.T. Wooten Floodplain Management Plan (2014)

Category: Habitat - Wildlife Area Management

Date Published: December 2014

Number of Pages: 149

Author(s): Bob Dice, Kari Dingman, Mark Grandstaff, Dave Karl, Tom Schirm, Bruce Heiner, Doug Maxey and Glen Mendel. Edited by Mark Wachtel.


The Wooten Wildlife Area Floodplain Management Plan (FMP) was developed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) as an integrated, cross-program effort to improve conditions within the Tucannon floodplain. Over the years the Tucannon River floodplain function has been compromised by certain factors including infrastructure encroachment and deterioration, large wood removal, degradation of riparian habitats, channel straightening, dike building and devastating floods and fires. The goals of the FMP were developed to address these factors: 1) protection and restoration of ecosystem functions of the Tucannon River, floodplain, and riparian habitats, 2) enhancement of fishing, hunting, camping, wildlife viewing and other recreational activities, 3) improvement of habitat conditions for Endangered Species Act (ESA) listed salmonids (as well as other aquatic species), 4) improvement of wildlife habitats, and 5) protection and enhancement of critical infrastructure.

These goals are consistent with the agency mission (“preserve, protect and perpetuate fish, wildlife and ecosystems while providing sustainable fish and wildlife recreational and commercial opportunities”), the 2011-17 WDFW Strategic Plan, and will compliment ongoing habitat restoration efforts to recover spring Chinook and other ESA listed stocks within the Tucannon basin. The WDFW Strategic Plan has guiding principles to conserve and restore biodiversity, ensure the health of ecosystems, and ensure sustainable social and economic use of Washington’s fish and wildlife and their habitats. It emphasizes both conservation and recreation as equal priorities for WDFW. Goal 1 of the Strategic Plan is to “Conserve and protect native fish and wildlife.” This is complimented by Goal 2: “Provide sustainable fishing, hunting and other wildlife-related recreational experiences”. The goals of the FMP stated above and the proposed actions following in this document will help the Department meet these two goals in the W.T. Wooten Wildlife Area (Wildlife Area). This FMP addresses issues associated with the Tucannon Lakes and other WDFW infrastructure while seeking to enhance recreational uses and complement the habitat enhancement goals of federal, tribal, state, and other watershed partners. The FMP is a model for the Conservation Initiative approach that has been initiated within WDFW. The Conservation Initiative is an agency-wide commitment to emphasizing conservation and improving how we work together -- both internally across programs, and externally in cooperation with other governments, organizations and citizens -- to better maintain healthy ecosystems for the benefit of all species, including humans.

The FMP is driven by several factors including the current condition of the Tucannon Lakes and associated infrastructure, and the increased focus on recovery of spring Chinook in the Tucannon River. Large portions of many of the Tucannon Lakes are currently within the floodplain of the Tucannon River. This restriction of the river reduces many important ecological functions of the floodplain. In addition to direct impacts to the floodplain the deteriorated condition of the Tucannon Lakes have other associated issues including: non-compliance with Washington Department of Ecology’s (WDOE) Dam Safety regulations, failing surface diversions, continued intake and outlet operation/maintenance or needed upgrades, potential thermal degradation of the river environment, and sedimentation in the lakes that reduces carrying capacity for stocked rainbow trout and recreational fishing. We have separated our proposed actions in this FMP into 6 initiatives: 1) Outreach; 2) Tucannon Lakes; 3) Habitat Enhancement; 4) Campgrounds; 5) Roads, Bridges, Culverts; 6) Camp Wooten.

The Snake River Salmon Recovery Board (SRSRB), Northwest Power Planning Council (NPPC) and Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) will have an increased emphasis in implementing habitat enhancement projects in the Tucannon River over the next 6 years in order to meet obligations to recover spring Chinook as outlined in the Columbia River Power System Biological Opinion. BPA, in cooperation with the SRSRB, is prepared to spend between $6-9 million on river and floodplain habitat enhancement projects in the Tucannon basin before 2018, much of it directed to the Wildlife Area. In addition the SRSRB distributes funds from the State of Washington Salmon Recovery Funding Board (SRFB), much of which is directed to the Tucannon basin to help recover spring Chinook and three other federally listed species (summer steelhead, fall Chinook, and bull trout). This provides a unique opportunity for WDFW, co-managers, partners and interested public to restore habitat conditions, and river and floodplain functions on the Wildlife Area and to build partnerships for restoration off of the Wildlife Area, while at the same time enhancing educational opportunities and recreational experiences.