News Release

National Park Service Announces Decision to Authorize Pierce County to Retrofit the Upper Nisqually River Levee within its Right-of-Way at Mount Rainier National Park

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Date: March 7, 2019
Contact: Karen Thompson or Kevin Skerl, 360-569-6510

The National Park Service (NPS) has completed its environmental review and issued its decision to permit Pierce County Public Works to retrofit the upper Nisqually River levee in Mount Rainier National Park with deflectors. 

The decision, detailed in the Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the Upper Nisqually River Retrofit Environmental Assessment (EA), authorizes Pierce County to move forward with plans to construct deflectors within the park once all permits are secured. The county has a right-of-way that permits the construction, operation and maintenance of the upper Nisqually River revetment, also referred to as the levee, within the park. The purpose of the deflector project is to reduce erosion and reoccurring levee damage by reducing adjacent water velocity and shifting the main channel away from the levee and toward the center of the floodplain. The county proposes to add large wood to at least half of the deflectors, which would increase roughness and add habitat complexity to the existing levee face. The project is expected to reduce long-term maintenance costs of the nearly one-mile long flood control levee. About one half of the levee is located within the park. The work will occur during the summer of 2019 or 2020.

Pierce County originally constructed the levee in 1961 between river mile (RM) 64.5 upstream to RM 65.4. The levee protects the historic Nisqually Entrance and the Nisqually to Paradise Road within the park, and the residential community and businesses located immediately west of the park boundary. The levee was heavily damaged during the November 2006 flood event, which closed the Nisqually to Paradise Road and destroyed the Sunshine Point Campground. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Pierce County have repaired the levee four times since 2006.

The FONSI, its appendices, and the EA are available on the National Park Service Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) website at: by selecting Document List from the left navigation bar.

The National Park Service appreciates the public taking time to share their comments, ideas and concerns, and contributing to the Mount Rainier National Park planning process. If you have questions about the project contact Kevin Skerl or Karen Thompson at 360-569-6510.

Last updated: March 7, 2019

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