Conserving land along our waterways protects important habitat and helps keep our rivers healthy, clean, and more resilient to drought. Riparian Protection projects conserve and restore fresh and saltwater habitat while protecting fish habitat. In doing so, the grants help provide our families, farms, and fisheries with clean water across the state.
The Nisqually River, a major salmon-producing river, has its headwater in Mt. Rainier Nat’l Park & its confluence with the Puget Sound in the Nat’l Wildlife Refuge. Recognizing its unique nature, the WA State Legislature in 1985 directed Ecology to develop a management plan for the river. After SEPA review, including an EIS, the Nisqually River Management Plan was approved by the Legislature in 1987. Subsequently, the NRMP was accepted by Ecology as a nonpoint pollution action plan. The NRMP emphasizes protection of a Core Management Zone along the river and calls for acquisition of development rights in this zone. The proposal cover 210 acres within the CMZ in Thurston Co. from RM 19.5 to 20.6. According to Nisqually Tribal surveys, this is an area for salmon & steelhead spawning & rearing. The land is divided into 8 lots from 20 to 33 acres each. At present, the Riparian Protection along this reach is sound; however, it is threatened with subdivision, home development within 200 ft of the river, and timber harvests. The purpose of this project is to impose a permanent conservation easement on 6 of the 8 lots, providing a min. 200 ft. setback of native veg. along the river with no removal permitted, no subdivision of parcels, and the access to land for future riparian enhancement. Also, a boundary line adjustment on 2 lots will create a 20 acre natural resource/open space parcel along the river. An endowment will be established for monitoring and stewardship.