The National Park Service’s Pacific West regional director has signed off on a plan to mitigrate future flood damage along the Stehekin River.
Major floods in 2003 and 2006 did considerable damage in the lower Stehekin Valley in Lake Chelan National Recreation Area. That prompted the National Park Service to develop a comprehensive plan to mitigate future flood damage along the river.
The record of decision for the plan, the Stehekin River Corridor Implementation Plan, was signed by Regional Director Christine Lenhertz on Monday.
Key elements of the plan include relocating about two miles of the Stehekin Valley Road around flood-prone McGregor Meadows, a change to large wood management at the river mouth and a revision of the 1995 Land Protection Plan to update priorities for land protection and federal land available for exchange, said a Park Service news release.
The preferred alternative would also create several new recreational opportunities, including a raft take-out at the river mouth, a new campground at Rainbow Falls and a Lower Valley Trail to connect the Stehekin Landing to High Bridge. Other parts of the plan, carried forward from the 1995 Lake Chelan National Recreation Area general management plan, include moving the National Park Service maintenance facility and some National Park Service housing out of the floodplain.
“Considering the 2003 and 2006 record floods on the Stehekin River and the accompanying damages to both private and public lands, we believe this plan efficiently allocates public resources to ensure the protection of our nation’s natural and cultural resources and the public enjoyment of these resources for years to come,” North Cascades National Park Complex Acting Superintendent Paul Slinde said in a prepared statement.
The Park Service plans to begin the Stehekin Valley Road improvement portion of the plan this fall, though funding might be delayed. Some of the first actions will include acquisition of easements from several private landowners to enable road construction.
Park managers this spring will begin seeking public input for relocating the maintenance facility and solid waste operation out of the channel migration zone and construction of a fire cache and a single-family housing unit.
Other action spelled out in the plan will await additional funding and might take a decade or more to implement.
The final decision on the plans marks the end of a multi-year planning effort and the beginning of what will likely be a 10-15 year implementation effort to provide high-quality recreational experiences, protect natural and cultural resources, support the private community of Stehekin and establish sustainable administrative facilities in Lake Chelan National Recreation Area in light of increasing flood risks along the river, the release said.