The Fifth TAG meeting took place at the Puyallup Library on February 1st, 2017.
Cynthia Krass, Executive Director of Snoqualmie Valley Watershed Improvement District (SVWID) presented on the history of the SVWID and its current work. Challenges facing agriculture in the area include limited water rights and drainage problems. The creation of the SVWID was a response to a need for more formal and unified representation and management to address both irrigation and drainage issues. Irrigation districts have more power than other special purpose districts and, unlike drainage districts, irrigation districts can address both drainage and irrigation.
We also discussed the Flood Risk Memo (final memo will be completed by early March), and had a discussion on conservation easements led by PCC Farmland Trust staff and Diane Marcus-Jones of Pierce County’s Planning and Land Services.
The Farming in the Floodplain Project, led by PCC Farmland Trust, has partnered with the Pierce Conservation District to explore possibilities for a large-scale planting project in the Clear Creek area. We are scoping out the feasibility of planting up to 6 acres of plants all along Nancy’s Ditch. The goal is to use native plants to shade out invasive plants (such as reed canarygrass and elodea) in the ditch. The reduction of ditch-clogging invasive plants will improve the flow of water throughout the ditch and improve drainage for agriculture, and also reduce longer-term maintenance needs.
This project has garnered vocal support from many partners, including residential and agricultural landowners, Drainage District 10 Commissioners, folks representing habitat interests, as well as County staff from Pierce County’s agricultural program and Surface Water Management.
We are hard at work exploring and planning this project, and our Landowner Engagement consultant will continue reaching out to area residents to describe the project and assess interest. Support for the project will come from a mix of County dollars, Farming in the Floodplain Project funds, and additional outside sources.
We will share more information as we are able to! Please contact us if you have any questions.
The Sediment Memo documents what information is known about sediment in the four tributaries of Clear Creek- Canyon, Clear, Swan, and Squally Creeks. It also summarizes what is known about sediment in the Puyallup River, based on a presentation by Kris Jaeger of USGS on November 2, 2016.
The agricultural community in the area requested more information about sediment, in order to increase understanding of current and future sediment regimes, how sediment affects flooding and drainage, and how an earthen berm may impact sedimentation. This memo is based on several conversations with experts, published data, and a presentation and discussion from the 4th TAG meeting.
The fourth meeting of the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) for the Farming in the Floodplain Project (FFP) was held on November 2, 2016 at the Puyallup Library. Kris Jaeger from USGS presented on sediment from the Puyallup, and Spencer Easton from ESA (our technical contractor) presented on sediment from the Clear Creek tributaries. There was also a discussion of the Drainage Inventory Preliminary Findings Memo. A full report of the meeting can be found here: TAG 4 Report
Our next TAG meeting will be in early February. We will discuss conservation easements, the Flood Risk memo that ESA is currently drafting, and hear from Cynthia Krass, the Executive Director of the Snoqualmie Valley Watershed Improvement District, who will discuss the efforts of farmers in the valley to organize around drainage and water rights.
The initial fieldwork for the Drainage Inventory was completed by ESA in September and October 2016. ESA will be analyzing the data and findings and conducting more field work after an intensive rainfall. In March, we will distribute a draft of the final Memo for review.
During the last 9 months, we have heard from many agricultural landowners, farmers, and growers in the area through one-on-one discussions, Technical Advisory Group meetings, and informal conversations. This research resulted in the Existing Conditions Report, and informed the research and work plan for the next 12 months, ending in June 2017.
This work plan was the result of many discussions with farmers and growers in the Clear Creek area. Issues important to the agricultural community, including some expressed by the Clear Creek Farmer’s Collective, were critical in identifying and prioritizing how to proceed with research and on-the-ground work in the coming year. We are immensely grateful to farmers for their time spent in reviewing both the Existing Conditions Report and several previous versions of the work plan- this helps us ensure that work completed under this Floodplains by Design grant directly supports the long-term agricultural viability of the Clear Creek area.
The Farming in the Floodplain Project works hard to be flexible and responsive to the needs of the agricultural community, and respond to new challenges and opportunities as they arise. With that in mind the Research Plan and accompanying Timeline are subject to change. As always, contact us if you have any comments or questions.
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.