Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) officials said today that emergency permits are available to public and private landowners who need to conduct in-stream work to protect their properties from high water throughout eastern Washington.
Higher-than-normal snow pack last winter and unseasonably warm weather this spring have caused flooding and the need for in-stream work to protect or repair houses, barns, fences, roads, bridges, culverts, and other property.
Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency on May 11 across eastern Washington, including three counties – Ferry, Pend Oreille, and Stevens – that are experiencing active flooding and another 17 counties he said are threatened with flooding in the near future.
State law requires WDFW to review all planned work that could disturb the bed or natural flow of streams and rivers before the department issues a Hydraulic Project Approval (HPA) permit, designed to ensure the work doesn’t harm fish or fish habitat.
The HPA review process can take up to 45 days. During flood emergencies, however, the permits can be issued as quickly as the same day if there is an immediate threat to people, property, or the environment.
“We have begun issuing emergency permits in locations threatened by high water flows, and we will continue to work quickly with anyone who needs help in these conditions,” said Margen Carlson, WDFW Habitat Program deputy assistant director. “Our goal is to enable people to protect their properties while also safeguarding fish and their habitat.”
Those who need an HPA can contact a local WDFW habitat biologist or WDFW regional office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, excluding holidays. Contact information is available at https://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/hpa/. People who need help outside of normal business hours may call the emergency HPA hotline at 360-902-2537.