Celebrating National Rivers Month

Steven SchauerUncategorized

By Steven Schauer, Deputy Executive Director

June marks the celebration of National Rivers Month, a time dedicated to honoring and preserving the invaluable rivers that weave through our communities. Here at the King County Flood Control District (KCFCD), we share your love for rivers and are committed to reducing flood risk along area rivers while also keeping them clean, healthy, and thriving! These waterways are vital sources of water, food, irrigation, and shelter, supporting the livelihoods and ways of life for many. Our vision is to build a future to withstand flood risks where thriving King County communities and healthy ecosystems coexist in harmony with area rivers. This is why we are thrilled to join in this 30-day celebration of rivers, focusing on flood risk reduction and the preservation of these natural treasures for future generations.

King County Watersheds Map
King County Watersheds Map

Rivers in King County

King County’s rivers, flowing from the Cascade Mountains to Puget Sound, pass through diverse landscapes, from forests and farmlands to urban areas. The six major rivers flowing through King County include the South Fork Skykomish, Snoqualmie, Sammamish, Cedar, Green, and White rivers, along with their tributaries like the Tolt, Raging, Miller, and Greenwater rivers.

More information about area rivers can be found on King County’s website.

Why Rivers Matter

We are fortunate to be home to several magnificent river systems. These rivers, like the Snoqulamie River pictured here, provide us with:

  • Freshwater: They’re a vital source of drinking water for countless communities.
  • Habitat: They provide food and shelter for a vast array of fish, birds, and animals. (Learn more from our recent blog about the significance of wetlands associated with rivers.)
  • Recreation: They offer opportunities for kayaking, canoeing, fishing, hiking, and enjoying the beauty of nature.
  • Livelihood: Many communities depend on rivers for agriculture, irrigation, and tourism.

Raising Awareness About Reducing Flood Risk

Flooding along the rivers in King County is a natural phenomenon, but it poses a significant threat which can be devastating to area communities. The KCFCD plays a crucial role in reducing flood risks along our local rivers. By investing in regional grant programs, home elevations & buyouts, and multibenefit mitigation projects, the KCFCD aims to protect people and property from the dangers of river flooding and channel migration.

Our comprehensive floodplain management policy focuses on improving existing flood protection facilities and funding new, integrated flood risk reduction projects along the six major river systems in King County and their tributaries. KCFCD partners with local jurisdictions to implement our flood risk reduction projects and programs. King County is our primary service provider. You may see the members of the Water and Land Resources Division working in and among our rivers as summer approaches!

Love the Lower Green River? We Do Too!

The Lower Green River is a vital waterway for King County. While our work covers all major river systems in King County, the KCFCD has had a particular focus on the Lower Green River during the last few years, conducting an extensive study to manage flood risks in the Lower Green River Corridor. Released on April 30, the final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) evaluates the cumulative impacts of three flood hazard management alternatives aimed at significantly reducing flooding.

Cover of the Lower Green River Corridor Flood Hazard Management Plan Final PEIS

The PEIS assesses the impacts, benefits, and costs of these alternatives, highlighting the potential for improved salmon habitats and additional recreational spaces. Key findings include all three alternatives substantially reduce flooding in most areas during a major flood and public feedback indicated broad support for flood risk management that delivers community benefits, recognizing these benefits may result in increased investment and land use changes immediately adjacent to the river. The PEIS is available here for your review, and now that the PEIS is finalized, the KCFCD Board of Supervisors is deliberating next steps toward implementing multibenefit flood mitigation planning and projects for the Lower Green River Corridor.

Lower Green River In Tukwila

How to Celebrate National Rivers Month

There are many ways to get involved and show your love for King County’s rivers. Here are some impactful ways to celebrate National Rivers Month:

  1. Learn about flood risks and KCFCD’s work: Explore the KCFCD’s website to understand more about flood risks, flood resources, and ongoing investments and projects aimed at flood mitigation.
  2. Volunteer your time: Join organized cleanup events or engage in activities like planting native vegetation along riverbanks to prevent erosion and support wildlife habitats.
  3. Attend educational workshops and tours: Participate in workshops or guided tours offered by organizations like King County Parks and Recreation to learn about issues related to watershed and riverine health.
  4. Fish responsibly: King County rivers offer ample fishing opportunities. Enjoy fishing while following regulations to ensure the sustainability of fish populations.
  5. Get on the water: Enjoy the serene beauty of local rivers by kayaking or canoeing. Rentals and guided tours are available to help you explore area waterways if you don’t have your own equipment. Please remember, even though area weather is warming up, river water can still be dangerously cold. Wear a life jacket, don’t consume alcohol or drugs, and designate someone to watch children and pets. Learn more in this short video produced by King County.
  6. Explore river walks and hikes: Take scenic walks or hikes along river trails to experience the natural beauty of our waterways. There are numerous local, county, and state parks as well as extended hike and bike trail systems along rivers throughout King County.
Sammamish River in Kenmore

National Rivers Month is an opportunity to connect with and protect the rivers that sustain us. Everyone can contribute to the health and longevity of our precious rivers by participating in these activities and supporting KCFCD’s initiatives. By working together, we can minimize flood risks and ensure that King County’s rivers continue to provide clean water, healthy habitats, and recreational opportunities for generations to come.