Capitol Lake – Deschutes Estuary Environmental Impact Statement

Client: Washington State Department of Enterprise Services
Management of an interdisciplinary project team, co-authoring of a SEPA Environmental Impact Statement, stakeholder engagement, and permitting analysis for construction in and management of a 260-acre waterbody.

Overview of Floyd|Snider Contributions

Project management and overall strategy
Co-author of SEPA EIS
Development of decision-making process, incorporating science, stakeholder input, and costs
Direct engagement with Squaxin Island Tribe, Cities of Olympia and Tumwater, Thurston County, Port of Olympia, DNR, Ecology, and WDFW
Steering and review of interdisciplinary technical analyses
Development and implementation of comprehensive stakeholder and public engagement plan
Legislative and finance coordination to identify project construction funds

Project Summary

The Capitol Lake – Deschutes Estuary includes the 260-acre Capitol Lake Basin, located on the Washington State Capitol Campus.

Capitol Lake was formed in 1951 following construction of a dam, which restricted flow between the Deschutes River and Puget Sound, and transformed expansive tidal flats into a freshwater lake. Historically, the Deschutes Estuary was used by local tribes for subsistence and ceremonial purposes. Today, it is closed to active public use. It is plagued by environmental issues including the presence of invasive species, violations of water quality standards, and inadequate sediment management. The stakeholder discourse regarding the resource has been polarized for decades given the stark difference in management options, which include a Managed Lake, Estuary, or Hybrid Alternative.

The Capitol Lake – Deschutes Estuary includes the 260-acre Capitol Lake Basin, located on the Washington State Capitol Campus. Capitol Lake was formed in 1951 following construction of a dam, which restricted flow between the Deschutes River and Puget Sound, and transformed expansive tidal flats into a freshwater lake. Historically, the Deschutes Estuary was used by local tribes for subsistence and ceremonial purposes. Today, it is closed to active public use. It is plagued by environmental issues including the presence of invasive species, violations of water quality standards, and inadequate sediment management. The stakeholder discourse regarding the resource has been polarized for decades given the stark difference in management options, which include a Managed Lake, Estuary, or Hybrid Alternative.

Our Approach

In 2018, Floyd|Snider was selected to lead the EIS process on behalf of Washington State Department of Enterprise Services to evaluate long-term management options.

The interdisciplinary analysis considers potential impacts to the downstream land uses, including a working port and marinas that could be impacted from sediment transport if the dam were removed; to the shoreline vegetation and overall ecosystem health; to restoration of recreational opportunities that are currently restricted; and to the overall visual and economic landscape in the center of an urban community, among other considerations of the natural and built environment.

The Floyd|Snider approach to this work focuses on centering goals common to all stakeholders. Floyd|Snider developed a project-specific process to objectively screen alternative components, and engaged stakeholders including local officials, resource agencies, and the community in review of technical methodologies proposed for analysis of key disciplines and it the development of an objective decision-making process.

Floyd|Snider leads and implements a public and stakeholder engagement approach that engages Executive, Technical, Funding and Governance Work Groups, and a Community Sounding Board. Purposeful, structured and timely engagement allow these stakeholders to provide meaningful input throughout the EIS process.

The EIS draws upon previous work by Floyd|Snider, including an analysis of environmental permits required before long-term management actions could be taken.

Project Milestones:

2021. Draft EIS issued
2022. Final EIS with Preferred Alternative will be issued

In 2018, Floyd|Snider was selected to lead the EIS process on behalf of Washington State Department of Enterprise Services to evaluate long-term management options. The interdisciplinary analysis considers potential impacts to the downstream land uses, including a working port and marinas that could be impacted from sediment transport if the dam were removed; to the shoreline vegetation and overall ecosystem health; to restoration of recreational opportunities that are currently restricted; and to the overall visual and economic landscape in the center of an urban community, among other considerations of the natural and built environment.

The Floyd|Snider approach to this work focuses on centering goals common to all stakeholders. Floyd|Snider developed a project-specific process to objectively screen alternative components, and engaged stakeholders including local officials, resource agencies, and the community in review of technical methodologies proposed for analysis of key disciplines and it the development of an objective decision-making process.

Floyd|Snider leads and implements a public and stakeholder engagement approach that engages Executive, Technical, Funding and Governance Work Groups, and a Community Sounding Board. Purposeful, structured and timely engagement allow these stakeholders to provide meaningful input throughout the EIS process.

The EIS draws upon previous work by Floyd|Snider, including an analysis of environmental permits required before long-term management actions could be taken.

Project Milestones:

2021. Draft EIS issued
2022. Final EIS with Preferred Alternative will be issued

Project Team

Floyd|Snider
Environmental Science Associates
EnviroIssues
Ross Strategic
Moffatt & Nichol
Herrera
EcoNW
Heffron Transportation
Northwest Vernacular