In late August, Washington Conservation Corps crew members and the community volunteers, led by Loren Paschich, completed work clearing out reed canarygrass from Canyon Creek (upstream of Clear Creek) from 52nd about 1600 feet northwest. Loren’s team spent most of the summer clearing blackberry and thick grass along the drainage easement, which allowed the WCC crews to efficiently work within the creek. While the crew worked on the creek, Loren and his team also performed maintenance on Nancy’s Ditch, parts of South Ditch, and on the northwest portion of the creek.
Drainage District 10 is working on a maintenance plan for the coming year to build on these efforts. This month, the Farming in the Floodplain Project technical contractors, ESA, has a field crew performing a drainage inventory on Clear Creek, Canyon Creek, and the drainage ditches. Thank you to the many landowners who have assisted with access to the ditches!
On September 20th, the technical contractor, ESA, will have a field team in the area working on a drainage inventory. Work will continue through September 28th. This work is expected to help the agricultural community and Drainage District 10 in a number of ways, including:
Providing a more comprehensive understanding of how the drainage system (not just the parts owned by the drainage district) works;
Providing information that can help with planning of future maintenance activities and that could help fill out permits (though we will not provide permit-level survey data);
Will make recommendations for needed maintenance activities; and
Will provide a baseline for existing conditions so that the County’s proposed project and other future planning and project efforts can be appropriately evaluated for their impacts or improvements to drainage.
We will be reaching out to landowners in advance of this work to discuss any questions you might have and in some cases, request your permission to access the drainage ditches adjacent to your property.
A preliminary report will be made available in late Fall.
This week, the Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) crew members and local volunteers have begun work on Clear Creek along Pioneer Way, starting at 52nd street near Chief Leschi school. They will be working for approximately 12 days (Mondays-Thursdays) in August, including the weeks of August 8th and 15th. Their work is focusing on reed canarygrass removal to improve the flow and capacity of the creek/drainage ditch. Drainage District 10 Commissioners are coordinating with the crew to plan for longer term maintenance of the creek and are considering multiple options for long term solutions for invasive reed canarygrass.
The Farming in the Floodplain Project is able to provide funding for the WCC work through the Puyallup Floodplain Reconnections grant through the Department of Ecology’s Floodplains by Design program. We are excited to be able to support on-the-ground work towards the ongoing agricultural viability of this area. We continue to seek ways to work collaboratively with other stakeholders and interests to ensure that the importance of the agricultural community is recognized and supported, and welcome input on our work.
Loren Paschich has been an incredibly valuable leader in these efforts- he has assembled a team of volunteers and cleared an access path through blackberries and thick reed canarygcass along the ditch from Chief Leschi school northwest for over 1/4 mile. The volunteer team has been removing reed canary grass from the ditch from the northwest while the WCC crews work from 52nd street towards Loren’s team. Without Loren’s efforts, this work would take weeks longer and would not be nearly as effective. Please get in touch with him if you would like to help out for a day or two!
This report examines the current conditions that affect agriculture in the Clear Creek area and uses the context of “risk” to discuss what future actions might increase or decrease the risks that impact long-term agricultural viability.
This report is the result of many months of technical research, three Technical Advisory Group meetings (including local farmers and growers), and conversations with farmers and residents in the area. The report informs the workplan for Phase 2 (August 2016-June 2017) of the Farming in the Floodplain Project, which will explore specific risk factors in depth in order to inform recommendations on addressing risk and benefit to agriculture for projects in the area.
ESA (our technical contractor) has been hard at work on a lot of research related to agricultural viability in the Clear Creek area. As we all dig into understanding what information is available, and what information we need, we’ve unearthed a ton of data. ESA has compiled an interactive web map of relevant data from the Existing Conditions Report, allowing the user to view different layers and easily compare where current agricultural land is in relation to elevation, for example. This map will continue to be updated, and we hope it is a helpful resource for comparing the many maps that exist for the area.
Let us know if you have any ideas for additional data to add, or ways to make this map more helpful for you.
Invasive Species remediation and channel improvements
Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) Crew members will be performing drainage ditch maintenance in the Clear Creek area during the month of August. They will be focusing their efforts on reed canarygrass removal in the ditch along Clear Creek on the north side of Pioneer Way.
The WCC Crew (pictured above) will be working with Drainage District 10 and community members on these efforts. This work is being funded in part by the Farming in the Floodplain Project under the Puyallup River Floodplain Reconnection grant funded by Department of Ecology’s Floodplains by Design program. This work is the result of ongoing collaborative efforts between the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, Pierce County’s Surface Water Management, Pierce County’s Executive Office, PCC Farmland Trust, Drainage District 10, and the Clear Creek Farmer’s Collective.
Based on a trial on Thursday July 28, the crew estimates that this effort will take several weeks, and hopes to start work the week of August 8. Drainage District 10 will host a public meeting regarding this work later in the month, and may be seeking volunteer labor to support the WCC efforts.
The third meeting of the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) for the Farming in the Floodplain Project (FFP) was held on July 12th, 2016 at the Puyallup Library. Attendees discussed the public draft of the Existing Conditions Report and the plan for Phase 2 Scope of Work and heard an update on the Floodplains by Design 3 Grant Application. A full report of the meeting can be found here: TAG 3 Report
ESA staff presented key findings from the public draft of the Existing Conditions Report (ECR), and discussed plans for the work plan for August 2016-June 2017. Additionally, they briefly presented a fantastic web map showing much of the data relevant to agriculture in Clear Creek.
Our next TAG meeting will be in late fall/early winter and will focus on sediment issues in the Clear Creek basin.
The second meeting of the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) for the Farming in the Floodplain Project (FFP) was held on June 6, 2016 at the Puyallup Library. About 25 people participated, including Clear Creek area farmers and residents, a Drainage District 10 commissioner, Pierce County staff, Farming in the Floodplain Project staff, and regional technical experts.
Topics discussed at the meeting included flood modeling done for the proposed Clear Creek Floodplain Reconnection Project; the definition of agricultural viability; and potential work plan elements for future phases of technical work on the FFP.
Northwest Hydraulics Consultants (NHC) presented information on the Clear Creek floodplain reconnection modeling NHC performed for Pierce County Surface Water Management in 2014. NHC’s role was to investigate the flooding impacts of the proposed Clear Creek Floodplain Reconnection Project at a feasibility level, focusing on large flood events. Following NHC’s presentation, TAG members discussed and asked questions about the model. See our Meeting Report for a description of the presentation, model, and discussion.
Video of NHC’s presentation is available here, with the Q&A available here.
ESA staff presented a draft definition of agricultural viability. Agricultural viability can be defined as the ability of a farmer or group of farmers to:
productively farm on a given piece of land or in a specific area,
maintain an economically viable farm business,
keep the land in agriculture long-term, and
steward the land so it will remain productive into the future.
TAG members commented that regulations, access to farmland, and affordability of farmland are important factors of agricultural viability.
ESA staff presented a list of potential future work plan elements for the FFP. This work could be done in Phase 2 of the FFP or in the future. The potential future work plan elements can be found in the Second TAG Meeting Report. For several meeting participants, technical work that would help Drainage District 10 was the highest priority.
At our June 6th Technical Advisory Group meeting, Northwest Hydraulic Consultants presented on the model they developed for Pierce County’s Surface Water Management in 2014. Our group wanted a better understanding of how this model was developed, and wanted to know what the parameters were, and what the model can and can’t tell us about flooding and hydrology in Clear Creek. We recorded this presentation, including a lengthy Q&A for those who were not able to attend.
The first 6 months of the Farming in the Floodplain project are all about understanding the current situation in the Clear Creek area. The project team has been diving into the available reports, maps and GIS data, and asked hundreds of questions of Pierce County, Clear Creek agricultural landowners, and other project partners. We’ve done quite a few formal and informal tours and visits in the area and are gathering information about what the agricultural community in Clear Creek looks like. This includes understanding what agricultural activities are currently taking place, learning how flooding, regulations, drainage and the River Road levee affect agricultural landowners, and starting to get an idea of what the community needs to thrive and ensure ongoing agriculture in the area.
By the end of July, we will have finished the first phase of work, which was focused around information gathering and making sure that as many agricultural landowners were contacted and included in the conversation as was possible. We held a Technical Advisory Group meeting with area experts in agriculture, geology, fisheries, hydrology and policy, and will host another next month, and a third in early July. Our technical contractors will produce two documents towards the end of summer, and these, combined with input from the community, will shape the more intensive, focused research that takes place from August 2016-July 2017.
The first report is the Existing Conditions Report, and will describe current conditions in the area, and include an assortment of custom-made maps. The second is a Phase 2 Recommendations document, which will help the project determine what direction the research will take in the next Phase. More information about these reports is available here. Sarah Wilcox, our Landowner Engagement Consultant, will be taking these reports to the community to ensure that we get input from those who are farming in the Clear Creek area.