The Farming in the Floodplain Project is a community-driven initiative to develop information on the needs of an agricultural community near Tacoma, Washington, and to integrate those needs into flood risk reduction and habitat restoration actions.
The FFP is an exciting project that brings the agricultural community to the table to discuss how to meet their agricultural viability needs while also reducing flood risk and restoring habitat.
The project is helping to empower a farming community to participate in broader planning efforts to ensure that viable agriculture is part of the future of the Clear Creek area, alongside restored habitat and reduced flood risk.
PCC Farmland Trust engaged ESA to complete technical work for the Farming in the Floodplain Project, part of the Floodplains for the Future Puyallup Watershed project, which is funded by a Floodplains by Design grant.
During the project’s first phase, ESA developed an Existing Conditions Report that identified agricultural drainage as the major current limiting factor in the Clear Creek area as well as the largest concern for farmers and other landowners. In the second phase, ESA conducted an inventory of the agricultural drainage system, assessed tide gates on Clear Creek, researched flood risk in the Clear Creek area, evaluated the impacts of upstream development, and prepared an assessment of the farmland impacts from a proposed levee project.
Through both phases of the project, ESA oversaw and facilitated a Technical Advisory Group that included Clear Creek area farmers; regional technical experts from the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group, U.S. Geological Survey, Puget Sound Partnership, and Washington State University Extension; and local stakeholders, including Pierce County, the Pierce Conservation District, the Muckleshoot Tribe, and the Puyallup Tribe.
To protect and restore that habitat, it’s necessary to balance a complex web of interests, including flood risk reduction, ecosystem recovery, and agricultural viability.
Across Puget Sound, there are competing demands on floodplain areas: local jurisdictions need to manage flood risk, salmon recovery entities need to restore and reconnect habitat areas, and farmers need to ensure that their farms remain viable.