5.7 City of Tacoma, Cowlitz River, Washington, - Ferc #2016

Project Description: The city of Tacoma owns and operates two dams on the Cowlitz River in Washington. The two lakes associated with the dams inundated approximately 14,000 acres of primarily undeveloped forested lands.

Magnitude of Lands Protection: The major components of the settlement agreement include:

  • All project lands owned by Tacoma will be managed for wildlife habitat by the Washington DFW.
  • Tacoma will pay $3 million to acquire approximately 1,900 additional acres of lowlands and wetlands for wildlife habitat.
  • Tacoma will acquire all timber harvesting rights over a 30 year period on approximately 4,000 acres and will replant and restore these lands for wildlife habitat.
  • Tacoma will pay $250,000 annually to Washington DFW for the operation, maintenance, and restoration of project lands.

Mechanism of Protection: The city of Tacoma has had a close working relationship with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) and has voluntarily funded employee and equipment costs for the DFW in exchange for assistance with its comprehensive habitat management programs since the early 1980s. In conjunction with preparation for its relicense application, Tacoma entered into a settlement agreement for wildlife habitat management on its project lands with DFW and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which was later approved by FERC.

FERC Involvement: Tacoma's existing license expired on December 31, 2001 but FERC had already stated in its June 12, 2001 draft EIS that conditions of the settlement agreement will be incorporated into the final license.

Current Status: According to the Cowlitz Wildlife Area annual management report issued on April 27, 2001, Tacoma currently owns approximately 13,940 acres of project lands which are managed by the Washington DFW. These lands are divided into 6 management units and include narrow buffer zones around each lake. Riffe Lake has almost no development around its steep inaccessible shoreline and is managed primarily for eagle, osprey, and other wildlife. Mayfield Lake is interspersed with some recreational facilities and managed primarily to maintain its current state and for a large population of Canadian geese.