Yakima Basin Integrated Plan F.A.Q.
Q. What is the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan (the Plan)?
This proposal grew out of efforts in the early 2000s to increase water storage for irrigators and municipalities in the Yakima Basin. An earlier proposal, known as the Black Rock Reservoir, would have potentially allowed for the migration of toxic material from the Hanford Nuclear Reservation into the Columbia River.
Q. What are the main benefits of the Plan?
- Conserving the Teanaway Basin: The Plan calls for the acquisition of 46,000 acres of forest and shrub-steppe lands in the Teanaway. This land is under heavy development pressure, and acquiring it from willing sellers would meet a number of important conservation and recreation goals. The Teanaway is enormously important to hikers, as it is easy to access from many central and western Washington communities, and provides a variety of trail experiences on a beautiful landscape.
- Increasing fish stocks tenfold: The Plan has the potential to increase salmon stocks from 30,000 to 300,000 by adding fish passage to five existing dams, restoring habitat and strategically increasing instream flows. This would be an enormous benefit to the Yakama Nation, which has a moral, historical and legal claim on fish stocks.
- Designating 200 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers in reaches of the Yakima River and tributaries.
- Adding 21,000 acres to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.
- Development of needed water conservation efforts.
- Reliable water supply to irrigators and communities, which helps ease the way for critical future conservation measures in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.
Q. Is WTA concerned about any elements of the Plan?
WTA has some concerns about draft designation of two new National Recreation Areas (NRA) in the Teanaway and the Taneum-Manastash that could keep the Forest Service from being able to assess and possibly reduce the acres available to motorized users in the area. In addition, raising the level of Bumping Lake would inundate the Bumping Lake Trail. We are confident, however, that in the process of working with stakeholders and other Plan supporters, we can lessen these impacts and even make gains for hikers.
Q. Who supports the Plan? Who opposes it?
Supporters of the Plan include: American Rivers, Back Country Horsemen of Washington, Conservation Northwest, Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, Forterra, National Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy, The Trust for Public Land, Trout Unlimited, The Wilderness Society and Washington Environmental Council, among others.
Opponents include: Alpine Lakes Protection Society, Friends of Bumping Lake, Kittitas Audubon Society, Issaquah Alps Trails Club, North Cascades Conservation Council, Sierra Club and Wilderness Watch, among others.
Q. Why did WTA take a position on this proposal?
The Plan contains several elements - raising Bumping Lake, designating NRAs, adding Wilderness acres and acquiring lands - that will impact hikers. It was incumbent upon WTA to be a strong voice for hikers on this issue.
Q. Why did WTA decide to support the proposal?
WTA Staff and Board felt strongly that this plan contained elements that were crucial to the state. There will be few or no chances in the future to acquire undeveloped land in the Teanaway. The addition of new Wild and Scenic Rivers has been a long time coming, and new Wilderness acres benefit hikers. Finally, we have been speaking up for hikers every step of the way since this proposal was made public in January, and will continue to do so.
Q. Where can I find more information?
You can get more details about the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan, including the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement that describes the proposal at www.yakimaforever.com.