Starting the Conversation: The Upper Snoqualmie Resilient River Corridor Management Plan

Year: 2023
Presenter/s: Matthew Baerwalde
Symposium Session: 2023 - 04 Cultural Values and Inclusion: Walking the Talk
Topics covered: community involvement, equity and inclusion, fish-salmon, flood, floodplain, and risk and resilience


In the Snoqualmie River Valley, there are clear areas of overlap between sacred places and areas planned for urban growth, where good relationships and respectful land and water use management decisions will sustain the long-term health of the river and all residents of the Upper Snoqualmie Valley. The Snoqualmie Tribe’s Resilient River Corridor Management Plan shows the state of natural processes of the Upper Snoqualmie River Valley as they were in the past, as they are today, and will be in the future and makes recommendations for changes to support a river corridor that is more resilient in regard to climate change. As a technical team of scientists gathered data to inform and fill gaps for the report section of this plan, others on the project team engaged and heard from the Snoqualmie Tribal community in particular, and the broader community at large, about what their experiences with the river are, what is important to them and their relationship to the Snoqualmie River, and how they think it will change in the future. The Snoqualmie Tribe’s holistic, multi-disciplinary approach to resilient river restoration of the Upper Snoqualmie River serves as an important new example of a locally led effort to achieve environmental returns on multiple spatial and temporal scales, emphasizing the importance and benefits of traditional ecological knowledge and long-term relationship with place.

Our project’s extensive outreach process included surveys and small group interviews, but this outreach is also ongoing. One key finding was that tribal members find access to the river to be extremely challenging. As the plan is shared with the community, an ongoing grassroots conversation around resilient river management continues. Likewise, the Technical Team assessed the current state of river and floodplain processes in the project reach, and how these processes affect water quality, water quantity, floodplain function, and in-stream aquatic habitat, which all helps to inform our conversations.

In addition to reporting on what was heard from the community, as well as the results of the scientific assessment, the Upper Snoqualmie Resilient River Corridor Management Plan is also designed to communicate to county and city river and managers that a more holistic approach is needed to respond to the constantly changing river environment, as these entities own and manage much of the land along the Upper Snoqualmie River.

The plan is intended to be a conversation starter. The Upper Snoqualmie Resilient River Corridor Management Plan proposes 22 recommendations for restoration and activities to reconnect the floodplain along the different reaches of the planning area, as well as reunite people as stewards of the river. We intend for the plan to serve as a community knowledge source and discussion tool, and to invite everyone into the process. And, we hope that it promotes a collective understanding of a resilient river for all.