Building on the success of the earlier Chehalis Basin Work Group, the 2016 Washington Legislature created a new Office of Chehalis Basin within Ecology to administer legislative funding to implement the Chehalis Basin Strategy. In April 2018, Director Maia Bellon selected Andrea McNamara Doyle to lead our newest office.
When the Legislature formed the Office of Chehalis Basin, lawmakers also established the Chehalis Basin Board to provide long-term oversight of the strategy. The Board is responsible for developing budget recommendations to the Governor’s office to implement the strategy. Our Office of Chehalis Basin provides support to the board.
The seven-member board typically meets the third Thursday of every month. Members represent the Chehalis River Basin Flood Authority, Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation, and Quinault Indian Nation, as well as agricultural, environmental, and economic interests in the basin. There are also five non-voting Board members representing various state agencies. Meeting agendas and materials as well as Board members and their contact information is available on the Chehalis Basin Board’s EZ View website.
Helping reduce flood damages, restore aquatic habitat
Covering nearly 2,700 square miles of Southwest Washington, the Chehalis River basin is at a turning point. For decades, peak seasonal flood levels have been rising — with five of the largest historical floods occurring within the basin over the last 30 years.
Besides the 125 mile-long Chehalis River which drains to the Grays Harbor estuary on the Pacific Coast, the Chehalis basin includes the Black, Elk, Johns, Hoquiam, Humptulips, Newaukum, Satsop, Skookumchuck, Wishkah, and Wynoochee rivers, and their tributary streams.
We expect the trend of larger, more frequent flooding in the basin to continue into the future.
Chehalis basin home to array of important habitats
The state’s second-largest river system is uniquely fertile and abundant. It is one of the few river systems in Washington without any federally-listed endangered salmon. The Chehalis basin also has the highest diversity of amphibian species anywhere in the state and supports various fish species including salmon, trout, lamprey, and the Olympic mudminnow.
Yet, the basin’s ability to support some types of fish has decreased by as much as 80 percent. Poor returns have significantly limited harvests for tribal and non-tribal fisheries. If aquatic habitat in the basin does not improve, some salmon species could become endangered.