North Cascades National Park Given Go-Ahead To Implement Stehekin River Plan

North Cascades National Park officials have received the go-ahead to implement a plan for mitigating flooding along the Stehekin River, a plan that calls for relocating a stretch of road, adding some recreational amenities, and moving some structures out of the flood plain.

Severe flooding in the Lower Stehekin Valley in Lake Chelan National Recreation Area in 2003 and 2006 prompted the National Park Service to prepare a comprehensive plan to mitigate future flood damages along the Stehekin River.

The final plan, adopted by the park last July but not approved by the Pacific West Region Office until this past week, includes "the relocation of about two miles of the Stehekin Valley Road around flood-prone McGregor Meadows, a change to large wood management at the river mouth, and a revision of the 1995 Land Protection Plan to update priorities for land protection and federal land available for exchange." It also calls for moving the Park Service maintenance facility and some Park Service housing out of the floodplain.

The plan would also make several new recreational opportunities available to the public, including a new raft take-out at the river mouth, a new campground at Rainbow Falls, and a Lower Valley Trail to connect the Stehekin Landing to High Bridge

Commonly referred to as the Stehekin River Plan, the final decision on this document marks the end of a multi-year planning effort and the beginning of, what will likely be, a 10-15 year implementation effort to provide high-quality recreational experiences, protect natural and cultural resources, support the private community of Stehekin, and establish sustainable administrative facilities in Lake Chelan National Recreation Area in light of increasing flood risks along the Stehekin River.

“Considering the 2003 and 2006 record floods on the Stehekin River and the accompanying damages to both private and public lands, we believe this plan efficiently allocates public resources to ensure the protection of our nation’s natural and cultural resources and the public enjoyment of these resources for years to come,” said North Cascades National Park Complex Acting-Superintendent Paul Slinde.

The National Park Service plans to implement the Stehekin Valley Road Improvement aspects of this plan in fall 2013, though funding might be delayed.

Early actions are expected to include acquisition of easements from several private landowners to enable road construction. The Park Service will also continue to pursue land exchanges in 2013, based on the guidance provided by the 2012 Land Protection Plan that was included within the Stehekin River Plan.

Public scoping for relocating the maintenance facility and solid waste operation out of the channel migration zone and construction of a fire cache and a single family housing unit will begin this spring. Park Service staff will continue to provide technical assistance to private landowners seeking to implement erosion control or advance flood protection measures on their property. However, other management actions await additional funding and may take a decade or more to implement.

You can find the entire plan at this site.