Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, the Dungeness River Management Team has been nationally-recognized for its work in cooperative resolution of watershed issues, and collaborating on projects to restore the watershed’s health.
The most remarkable thing about the Team has been the willingness of representatives with very different missions to stay focused on the common ground that brought them together – the health of the river. Tremendously innovative and productive over the past 30 years, this local watershed council has been the subject of several case studies highlighting the successful partnerships that have formed through its watershed planning efforts.
It is a local group that, from its inception, rose above individual demands in order to preserve the Dungeness River Watershed for the benefit of all.
A celebration of the 30th anniversary will be held on Thursday evening, Sept. 27 – the first day of the Dungeness River Festival.
Look for details in September.
A brief DRMT history
The Dungeness River Management Team (DRMT) was formed in May 1988 to improve communications regarding the long-term management of the river and its resources.
The team consisted of representatives from diverse groups interested in the river, including federal, state, county and tribal governments, irrigators, landowners, sports fishers, farmers and conservationists.
The DRMT was locally initiated, and did not originally result as a directive from any state-sponsored mandate.
“I think that is part of its strength,” Ann Seiter, chair of the DRMT in the late 1990s, said. “The DRMT has never had any formal jurisdiction or power—these come from the authorities of the individual member government entities and organizations. Despite, or perhaps because of, this lack of formal jurisdiction over the River, the DRMT has managed to accomplish a great deal.”
Early team efforts helped the County produce some of the first management plans in the watershed, including the first flood plan in 1990 (updated in 2009), and the Dungeness Area Watershed Management Plan (1993), which highlighted actions to improve water quality.
In ensuing years, the team embraced an ecosystem approach to watershed management, recognizing that many of the watershed problems were linked. Issues such as floodplain and riparian development, logging practices, water quality, water conservation, loss of agricultural lands, and related natural resource topics were all woven into the team’s regular meetings and planning sessions.
In 1994, the DRMT produced the Dungeness-Quilcene Water Resources Management Plan (the DQ Plan). A milestone of the DQ process was an agreement by the Dungeness River Agricultural Water Users Association (Water Users) that they would not take more than half the flow of the River during the irrigation season, despite adjudicated water rights from the state giving claim to more than 100 percent of the flow.
The agreement resulted from negotiations between the Water Users, Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe and the Washington Department of Ecology, thereby ensuring that both farms and fish would be considered in water management of the River.
The water use agreement from the DQ Plan along with other significant recommendations were implemented in the years that followed, including a trust water rights agreement; improvements to the efficiency of the irrigation system; the development of a habitat restoration plan by a technical team; and continuation of a Watershed Council to provide more coordinated and integrated natural resource planning for the Dungeness River Watershed area.
In response to the latter recommendation, the DRMT was redefined in the 1995 to: exchange information on technical studies, issues, and projects occurring in the Dungeness Watershed; pursue implementation of specific Dungeness planning documents, such as the DQ Plan; coordinate the use of staff, funding and other resources among agencies and representatives; and promote public education on watershed processes and activities.
In the late 1990s, the DRMT established a technical subcommittee that has emphasized technical studies and made concerted efforts to plan for dike relocation, to protect lands and people and to enhance the fish population and other river functions. These studies were combined in 2004 as the Dungeness chapter of the regional Puget Sound Chinook Recovery Plan.
Another subcommittee, the Dungeness Clean Water Work Group has worked on cleaning the water that goes from the Dungeness River into the bay to protect shellfish beds.
Between 2000 and 2005, the planning unit participated in development of the Elwha-Dungeness Watershed Plan (WRIA 18 Plan) (2005), which includes strategies to address competing interests affecting water supplies, in-stream flows, water quality, stream habitat and salmon recovery. Recommendations from the WRIA 18 Plan formed the basis for what was included in the 2013 Dungeness In-Stream Flow and Water Management Rule, which was designed to protect existing water rights, manage new uses of water, protect fish resources, and protect stream flows in the Dungeness Watershed.
The team continues these efforts today and functions as an important, ongoing forum for communication, coordination and information-sharing about critical watershed issues.
The DRMT vision for the watershed is, “Farms, forests, fish and friends sharing a home together.”
Learn more at www.tinyurl.com/DRMTweb.
DRMT sets photo contest
In conjunction with the 30th anniversary of the Dungeness River Management Team, members of the community are challenged to portray their “ideal vision” of the Dungeness Watershed through captioned photographs.
Photos could include scenery within the watershed, including mountain, forest, stream and beach areas; people recreating on the watershed; efficient irrigation, planting or harvesting of crops within the watershed; native fish, wildlife or plants; and friends working together in the watershed.
Winners will be announced and prizes awarded at the DRMT’s 30th anniversary community celebration on Thursday, Sept. 27, at the Dungeness River Festival. The grand prize is a $250 dinner and gallery gift donated by the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe. Two runner-up prizes will also be awarded.
The deadline for submittals is Sept. 7.
To enter, submit — via email to email@example.com — up to three photos, each accompanied by one or two corresponding thoughts/inspirations/captions describing your vision for the Dungeness Watershed. Include the location where your photo was taken. Photo resolution must be high enough to reproduce 8.5-by-11-inch prints, and for use on websites.
For more information, visit www.tinyurl.com/DRMTweb.