Understanding Habitat Recovery Time for Restoration Planning in Washington State

Caption: (l - r) Rebecca Hoff, Jason Lehto, Laurel Jennings, Debra Salstrom, Tom Elliott, and Dr. David Pyke (NOAA Photo)
Caption: (l - r) Rebecca Hoff, Jason Lehto, Laurel Jennings, Debra Salstrom, Tom Elliott, and Dr. David Pyke (NOAA Photo)

Understanding Habitat Recovery Time for Restoration Planning in Washington State

February 27, 2018

Five NOAA scientists recently led a group of more than 40 trustees in a multi-day restoration planning exercise related to the Hanford Nuclear Site. The event took place in Richland, Washington, and increased scientific convergence about habitat recovery time after restoration actions are completed in an affected area.

Scientists from the Yakama Nation, U.S. Geological Survey, private companies, and other entities contributed their time as subject matter experts. Agency representatives from Washington, Oregon, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service presented scientific findings at the meeting and prepared technical materials. This work is notable as the first group-wide effort in many years to consider types of restoration projects that provide enough benefits to address the proper size and scope of restoration needed at Hanford.

The Hanford Nuclear Site is located in eastern Washington State, and encompasses more than 500 square miles of land. The contamination discharged from the site into the Columbia River is a potential threat to fish and wildlife and their habitat.  Trustees for the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) include three Tribes (Nez Perce, Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, and Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation), two states (Washington and Oregon), and three federal agencies (Department of Energy, Department of Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Department of Commerce, NOAA).

The trustees are currently in the initial assessment phase of the NRDA process. They have identified a variety of cultural, economic, and scientific studies that will help identify and quantify the natural resource injuries at the Hanford site. Once the injuries are measured and documented, they will then determine the type and amount of restoration required to offset those injuries.