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The Deschutes Estuary is in the cities of Olympia and Tumwater in Thurston County where the mouth of the Deschutes River enters Budd Inlet. The estuary became Capitol Lake with construction of the Fifth Avenue Dam in 1951. Developing a politically acceptable strategy for restoration of the estuary has been a long term effort. Percival Creek Watershed drains to the west side of the estuary. The historical Estuary could be defined to include several small tributaries in south Budd including Indian-Moxlie Creek Watershed, now buried and entering East Bay in a pipe, as well as Schneider Creek Watershed at West Bay. The Estuary is a MTCA cleanup site, part of the Puget Sound Initiative.
Nearshore Strategies Data Report
Cereghino et al 2012 completed a soundwide analysis to identify and describe river delta sites in Puget Sounds as part of a nearshore ecosystem restoration strategy (using remote sensing data c. 2000-2006). The following narrative of this delta site was developed to support distribution and use of analysis results:
- The Deschutes Delta in the South Sound Sub-basin historically contained 13 acres of vegetated wetland along a 9 km shoreline. The delta receives freshwater and sediment from a 46,211 square kilometer watershed. These characteristics make this system the 13th largest delta out of 16 systems in Puget Sound.
- Simenstad et al 2011 found that this system had lost none of its vegetated tidal wetlands, but 100% of its shoreline length. Of the remaining shoreline, 97% shows some evidence of infrastructure development. In the surrounding uplands, 85% of land is estimated to have greater than 10% impervious surface. Across the watershed, 74% of land is estimated to have greater than 10% impervious surface. Based on these paramters, the site was given a degradation score of 58 out of 100, making it the 3th most degraded delta in Puget Sound. It faces a high risk of future development locally, and a high risk of development across the watershed. All of the watershed is currently impounded behind a dam.
- PWA 2008 provides an analysis of restoration feasibility.
- The lake is currently under public ownership and managed by the General Services Administration.
- CLAMP 2009 describes the final steering committee recommendation to restore the lake to an estuary.
- The Capital Lake Improvement and Protection Association has organized resitance to restoration.
- PSNERP has prepared a preliminary conceptual design for restoration as part of a USACE General Investigation.
- The Deschutes Estuary Restoration Team advocates for restoration of Capitol Lake to an estuary and has assembled historical documents on their website.
- The Squaxin Tribe, also advocating for estuary restoration, provides some information.