Guest Commentary: Don’t Question Quinault Tribe’s Motives on Chehalis River Basin Flood Proposal


The Quinault Indian Nation has requested that a new idea for flood reduction be considered as part of the programmatic EIS being conducted on the Chehalis Basin to reduce flood and restore the fish runs.  

This programmatic EIS process was recommended by the Governor’s Chehalis Basin Work Group, approved by the governor and funded by the Legislature this year.  

The EIS, by law, must be objective and consider several options including the plan produced by the Work Group to both restore fish habitat and to address flooding through measures including a dam on the upper Chehalis River. 

The technical work on the draft programmatic EIS is to be completed by next summer, followed by a recommendation of a preferred alternative by the Work Group and a decision by the governor in December 2016.    

At a recent public meeting, the natural resources director for the Quinaults acknowledged that this idea is coming late to the process but the programmatic EIS process should consider an alternative flood reduction plan that relies on natural structures to reduce flood levels.

I understand the analysis of this alternative can fit within the timeline to reach a decision by the governor next December and I support it being evaluated in this process.  

The Work Group has directed research and analysis of many large-scale alternatives on flood reduction including, dredging, removal of bridges, changing logging practices, creating a floodway bypass at Mellen Street and many dam designs.  

The results of the evaluations of these alternatives are all public record and can be found on the Chehalis Basin Flood Authority website.   

The alternative to use more natural approaches to address flooding has been raised by others in the past and we should see whether this can provide benefit to our communities.

This alternative can be evaluated by the team of hydrologists, biologists, geologists, engineers and economists that have analyzed all of these other ideas and everyone will be able to see their conclusions.

The Chronicle editorialized that the action by the Quinaults was obstructionist. 

The Quinaults have come to the table with an idea acknowledging that flooding is a problem that must be addressed alongside habitat and fish restoration in the Chehalis basin.  

Let’s have the scientists get the facts and not question motives.


J. Vander Stoep is an attorney in Chehalis. He serves on the Chehalis River Basin Flood Authority and the Governor’s Chehalis Basin Work Group.