$60 Million Approved by Legislature to Continue Work on Chehalis Basin Strategy


The state Legislature has approved $60 million in state and federal funding to continue the implementation of projects designed to reduce damage from catastrophic floods and restore aquatic habitat in the Chehalis River Basin, including the China Creek restoration project in Centralia.

Of the $60 million, $29.6 million will be spent to design and construct priority flood protection and habitat restoration projects, according to a press release. That includes $2.5 million to complete a project in Centralia designed to recreate stream channels for fish habitat and restore natural landforms in China Creek, while also slowing down and storing more stormwater runoff when flows are high.

About $30.4 million will be used to advance the Chehalis Basin Strategy which includes environmental review for flood-damage reduction and habitat restoration projects. The money covers the evaluation of engineering designs, and the feasibility potential of future construction projects, while engaging tribal governments, state agencies and other parties.

“The timing for the legislative funding could not be better,” Chrissy Bailey, senior project manager for the Office of the Chehalis Basin, said. “Last year, we completed an environmental assessment evaluating potential combinations of actions to reduce flood damage and restore aquatic habitat in the basin. This additional funding will ensure we can get to work and continue making progress.”

Created by the Legislature, the Office of the Chehalis Basin’s approach is to reduce flood damage and restore aquatic habitat.

“The people of the Chehalis River basin need this critical state investment to continue. They also need to know how this funding will be put toward the highest, best possible uses,” Vickie Raines, a Grays Harbor County commissioner and chair of the Chehalis Basin Board that oversees the strategy, said. “We need to keep working together to find solutions that protect our communities and our environment. The two issues go hand in hand.”

During the 2015-17 state budget cycle, the Legislature invested $50 million in the strategy which contributed to the early flood warning systems throughout the basin. According to the release, it brought together local and tribal governments, state and federal agencies, nonprofit organizations and conservation districts to restore 33 wetlands and connect or remove 27 fish barriers. The removal of the barriers opened up 135 miles of basin stream habitat, according to the release.

The groups also completed 19 local flood damage reduction projects. Other projects and studies are currently underway.

For a full list of the priority flood protection projects, go online to www.ezview.wa.gov.