The Tribe’s Environmental Planning Program plays a fundamental role in our efforts to restore and protect our important cultural and natural resources. The program takes an ecosystem approach to addressing environmental problems by coordinating with our Habitat Program and community partners on issues across our watersheds. Activities are conducted in the following areas: watershed planning, water quantity, water quality, environmental education, environmental assessments, and GIS.
The Tribe’s watershed planning efforts have mainly targeted the Dungeness and Sequim Bay watersheds. Many of our Tribal citizens reside within these watersheds, along with many of our existing Tribal commercial enterprises and other landholdings. The Dungeness Watershed lies within our Tribe’s ancestral homelands on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and the neighboring Sequim Bay Watershed is adjacent to Tribal Trust and reservation lands, providing the backdrop to our governmental and administrative campus.
The Tribe co-leads with Clallam County the Dungeness River Management Team (DRMT), whose diverse members have been collaboratively addressing issues affecting the watershed and its inhabitants for over 30 years. DRMT planning activities build upon previous milestones to which the Tribe was a key contributor, such as the 1990 Chelan Agreement, the 1994 Dungeness-Quilcene Water Resources Plan (“the DQ Plan”), and the 2005 Elwha-Dungeness Watershed Plan (WRIA 18 Plan), among many others.
The locally driven and consensus-based DQ Plan, written by the Tribe on behalf of an eight-caucus Regional Planning Group, was a hallmark effort to cooperatively address the water needs of both wildlife and people. The process included progressive negotiations among the Tribe, Sequim-Dungeness Water Users Association (WUA) and Washington Department of Ecology (ECY), which lead to WUA’s agreement with ECY (the 1998 Trust Water Rights Agreement) to divert no more than half of the flow of the river during irrigation season. The agreement was updated in 2013 with further water use efficiencies, following adoption of Washington Department of Ecology’s 2013 Dungeness Water Management Rule. The Rule, another significant milestone in watershed planning, essentially provided a water right for fish in the form of minimum instream flow levels.
The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe is proud to have participated in these earlier planning efforts, all of which helped set the stage for many successful collaborations among the Tribe, farmers, riverside property owners, local governments and non-profit environmental groups, as documented in the Tribe’s 2013 Dungeness Watershed outreach film. More recent activities and plans, including riparian land conservation projects by the Tribe’s Habitat Program, are published in the Tribe’s 2018 newsletter celebrating the DRMT’s 30th Anniversary. We are also guided by our own 2003 Restoring the Dungeness Plan and our 2007 Protecting and Restoring the Waters of Dungeness, the latter of which focuses on non-point source pollution and complies with the guidelines associated with Section 319 of the Clean Water Act as administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The Tribe has also contributed extensively to riparian land and other critical areas protection in Dungeness watershed planning efforts. See the Habitat Program section.
Sequim Bay Watershed
Watershed planning in the Sequim Bay basin, where the Tribe’s Government Campus and Hotel-Casino Resort reside, has been limited. The Sequim Bay Watershed was designated by Washington State as an Early Action Watershed, with a stakeholder-based plan (Sequim Bay Watershed Management Plan) addressing non-point pollution completed in 1989, to which the Tribe contributed. At that time, there were no other sub-area or watershed management plans for the Sequim Bay area. Sequim Bay, which is a part of the DRMT’s watershed planning area, was also included in the 2005 Elwha-Dungeness Watershed Plan. The Tribe was a key participant in that effort, and contributed recommendations on water quantity, water quality, and habitat in Sequim Bay and its fresh water drainages.
In 2013, the Tribe finalized its own Watershed-Based Plan, Protecting and Restoring the Waters of Sequim Bay, which provides a characterization of the Sequim Bay watershed area and describes the causes and sources of non-point source pollution, along with goals and measures for protecting water quality and restoring impaired waterbodies. Similar to the Tribe’s Dungeness Watershed-Based Plan, it was developed to comply with Clean Water Act guidelines.
The Tribe has also contributed extensively to riparian land and other critical areas protection in Sequim Bay watershed planning efforts. See the Habitat Program section.
Other Watersheds and Planning Groups
The Tribe is also involved in planning efforts in other locations within our Usual and Accustomed fishing area that may directly or indirectly impact our fish and shellfish resource interests. Some of this work is conducted on behalf of Jamestown by Point-No-Point Treaty Council and/or the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission staff. Other local planning processes or related groups in which the Tribe participates are Clallam County Marine Resources Committee, Clean Water Work Group, Jefferson Marine Resources Committee, North Olympic Peninsula Lead Entity, Pollution Identification and Correction (PIC Program), Straits Ecosystem Recovery Network, Chumsortium, and many ad-hoc technical advisory groups.
A significant threat to the health of the Dungeness Watershed is low streamflows, especially during late summer when the highest demand for irrigation water coincides with peak Chinook spawning. The Tribe has worked for many years with the irrigation community, Clallam Conservation District, Washington Department of Ecology and others to reduce the impacts of Dungeness River withdrawals. Our efforts have supported water conservation projects, implemented habitat restoration projects and contributed to collaborative planning for future water supplies.
Over the last 30 years, water withdrawals for irrigation have reduced by
close to 50%. While this improvement is significant, Dungeness flows are still inadequate for sustaining ESA-listed salmon species, and water supplies for people are an ongoing concern. This area, as in many parts of the world, is experiencing more frequent extreme weather events, such as earlier and longer periods of drought and more frequent high-flow events which contribute to scouring of redds (salmon nests). A current area of focus among our water resources partners involves collecting Dungeness water during the wet part of the year, storing it in an off-channel reservoir, and then using that stored water for irrigation during the dry period. This concept is a result of extended discussions, planning and study, among multiple stakeholders and is becoming increasingly important as we continue these latest climate trends.
Although the irrigators are currently the largest water users in the watershed, flows are also affected by land use changes, such as increasing residential and commercial development. The Tribe has contributed to multiple related planning opportunities to help prevent, reduce or mitigate such impacts, such as the DQ Plan, the Elwha-Dungeness Watershed Plan, the Dungeness chapter of the Puget Sound Salmon Recovery Plan, and the Dungeness Water Rule and associated Dungeness Water Exchange. The Tribe also provides comments and recommendations on developments proposed in our planning area’s rivers, streams, or ditches.
The Tribe monitors water quality in our focus watersheds, to ensure that water meets standards for fish and for human contact. The Tribe and the WA State Department of Health cooperate to monitor water quality for fecal coliform bacteria in Dungeness, Sequim, and Discovery Bays. In 1997, the State Department of Health began closing sections of Dungeness Bay due to bacterial contamination in Dungeness Bay, this process is referred to as “downgrades”. This eventually led to the closure of Dungeness Bay to all shellfish harvest as well as the closure to two shellfish companies, one owned and operated by the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe. Since then, the Tribe and many other partners have collaborated to identify where the bacterial contamination sources are coming from and implemented projects to prevent pollution. The Dungeness river was an obvious source, but also included several tributaries and an intricate irrigation system as well as other streams entering Dungeness Bay. Many studies were conducted, projects implemented, and Clallam County was designated as a “shellfish protection” district. This was an important step that eventually formed the “Sequim-Dungeness Clean Water Work Group” in 2001. Stakeholders in this group includes the Tribe, City of Sequim, Clallam County Environmental Health (CCEH), Clallam Conservation District (CCD), WA State Department of Health (DOH), WA State Department of Ecology (DOE), landowners, and Washington State Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). This group was essential throughout the 20-year process that eventually helped aid in several shellfish “upgrades” in Dungeness Bay, the latest in 2018. This upgrade enables the Tribe to resume shellfish aquaculture and commercial harvest inside Dungeness Bay.
Despite the recent Dungeness shellfish upgrade, Dungeness Bay continues to have fecal coliform pollution problems that not only impacted the commercial shellfish harvest but also impacted the subsistence harvest for Jamestown S’Klallam Tribal Citizens. In 2012 the Clean Water Workgroup partnered with the CCD and other agencies to develop a Pollution and Identification and correction plan (PIC Plan). The plan was designed to more effectively and efficiently improve water quality in the bay and to the water ways. The Tribe, CCEH and Streamkeepers take part in monthly trends sampling and targeted sampling to focus on suspect areas. Shellfish subsistence harvest for Tribal citizens is now available year-round except for a prohibited area at the mouth of the Dungeness River.
Other work performed over the last two decades includes onsite septic investigations and repairs and irrigation piping. The Clallam County On-site program protects public health and environment by making sure that septic systems are functioning properly. The County on-site program has been very successful in public outreach and assuring that septic design, installation and maintenance is being done in a way that meets State and local standards. Free homeowner education classes such as Septic 101 and 201 are being continually offered as well as septic system inspection rebate programs and septic system repair/replacement loan programs. The CCD worked with Water Users Association and the Tribe on irrigation piping projects preventing contaminants from entering the irrigation system as well as helping the irrigation system run more efficiently. Over 100 miles of irrigation ditch have been piped and tailwater to Dungeness bay is now nonexistent.
The Dungeness Bay Shellfish growing area continues to be closely monitored, but we never turned our heads from the freshwater streams of the Dungeness and Sequim Bay watersheds. The Tribe monitors water quality and compares those data to State water quality standards for designated uses. A large-scale restoration project was performed on Jimmycomelately Creek in 2004 which saved a summer chum run from near extinction. The Tribe continues to monitor Jimmycomelately Creek.
You can access more information on the Dungeness River and Bay studies at the following links:
TMDL – Dungeness River/Matriotti (Note for webmaster: External Link https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/publications/documents/0203014.pdf)
TMDL – Dungeness Bay (Note for webmaster: External Link https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/publications/publications/0403012.pdf)
Targeted Watershed Grant – Effectiveness Monitoring Study (Note for webmaster: internal Link)
Microbial Source Tracking in the Dungeness Watershed, Washington (Note for webmaster: internal Link)
Mycoremediation Report (Note for webmaster: internal Link
Final Dungeness Targeted Report (Note for webmaster: internal Link)
PIC Plan (Note for webmaster: External Link http://www.clallam.net/HHS/documents/PlanPIC.pdf)
The Tribe’s treaty resources cover and depend on habitats across a large area and multiple jurisdictions. Without jurisdiction and capacity to directly manage these resources, public education and outreach is vital to inform the general public about the importance of protecting and restoring the natural resources of the area. We sponsor workshops, host meetings, publish reports and brochures and speak at various forums. We provide environmental education to Tribal programs, local schools, and present to many community groups. And we have formed a partnership with the River Center Foundation and the Audubon Society local and state chapters to operate at the Railroad Bridge Park. The River Center provides the general public the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, gain access to the Dungeness River, walk on trails through the riparian forest, and participate in a wide range of programs for adults and children throughout the year. There is a permanent exhibition of the fauna, especially the birds, of the Olympic Peninsula, a library, and a meeting room, all open to the public. The meeting room, an outdoor amphitheater, and a classroom–size picnic shelter are available for rent.
The Tribe’s development plans all need to meet environmental standards set by the Federal government to protect water quality, endangered species and other aspects of the environment. If the land being developed is not in trust or reservation, the project must also meet State and County standards. The Environmental Planning Manager assists other Tribal departments with assessing potential environmental impacts from development projects and determining how they can be minimized or mitigated.
We also help ensure that any house acquired or assisted under the NAHASDA program for individual tribal members has no environmental problems, such as a contaminated soils or risk of flooding. We also review developments proposed by others to make sure that our natural resources are not negatively impacted. See Habitat: Environmental Review.
The Tribe’s EPA funding Tribal Response Program works to ensure that property purchased by the Tribe is free of potential environmental hazards and that property owned by the Tribe remains free of contamination. For additional information: See Brownfields Page
“To ensure continued economic growth, promote long-term community vitality and protect sensitive resources and assets, it is essential that we incorporate climate change preparedness into our planning efforts and operations.” –W. Ron Allen. Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe.
For additional information and reports: See Climate Change Page
Geographic Information Systems
The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s Geographic Information System (GIS) supports the work of the Natural Resources department and other Tribal departments, bringing together people and computer hardware and software to capture, store, update, manipulate, analyze and display all forms of geographically referenced information. For example, a water quality technician could locate sampling sites using a GPS (Global Positioning System) and record data at those locations. This data can be entered into the GIS which will link the data to specific sites. The data can then be analyzed, mapped and displayed to assist managers in making decisions. Below is an example of how GIS is used on a Tribal restoration project to assist in management decisions: