Clark, Cowlitz, and SW Lewis GRP – Open for Public Comment!

The Washington Department of Ecology is updating the Clark, Cowlitz, and SW Lewis Geographic Response Plan (GRP). An important part of the update process is hearing from the people who live, work, and play in the planning area. To facilitate this, a public comment period will be open from Wednesday 6/22/2022 – Friday 7/22/2022.

View the draft sections here.

Description of the Area

The planning area extends from Vancouver in the south to just north of Winlock, traces US Highway 12 east to Mayfield Lake, and runs in a narrow strip from Kelso/Longview southeastward to Battle Ground. Portions of the Coweeman, Cowlitz, Kalama, Lewis, and Toutle Rivers flow through this area.  The communities of Battle Ground, Castle Rock, Kalama, La Center, Longview/Kelso, Ridgefield, Toledo, Vader, Vancouver, Winlock, and Woodland are located within the boundaries of this planning area, as well as parts of Lewis, Cowlitz, and Clark Counties.  The Chehalis River and Lower Columbia River GRPs border this planning area to the north and southwest, respectively.

What are Geographic Response Plans?
GRPs are used to guide early response actions in the event of an oil spill. Ecology develops and updates GRPs in collaboration with state, local and federal agencies and tribes. Each GRP is written for a specific area (for example a river, a lake, or section of Puget Sound), and includes tactical response strategies tailored to a particular shore or waterway at risk of injury from oil.

GRPs have two main objectives:

  • Identify sensitive natural, cultural or significant economic resources at risk of injury from oil spills.
  • Describe and prioritize response strategies in an effort to reduce injury to sensitive natural, cultural, and certain economic resources at risk from oil spills.

The Washington Legislature requires additional planning relating to oils that may not remain floating on the surface, termed non-floating oils (NFOs), in order to maintain the state’s preparedness. This draft GRP contains updates relating to NFOs in the Non-Floating Oil Response Options and Resources at Risk sections of the GRP.

More Information

Comment online

Comment by mail

Max Gordon

Department of Ecology, Spills Program

PO Box 47600

Olympia, WA 98504-7600


Max Gordon

Oil Spill Preparedness Planner


Updates to Washington’s GRPs

What are Geographic Response Plans?

Oil spills pose a risk to sensitive environmental, cultural, and economic resources. One important tool in our planning toolbox is the Geographic Response Plan (GRP). GRPs contain pre-identified strategies for specific areas of the state at risk from oil spills. These are pre-approved plans that guide early response actions during oil spills. A list of all Washington State GRPs, including those open for comprehensive updates can be found online at

GRP Updates:  Comprehensive vs. Interim

GRPs are periodically updated to ensure the information is relevant and up-to-date. These comprehensive updates require a lot of work and often take a year or two to complete. Work is coordinated with other state and federal agencies, tribes, industry partners, oil spill response professionals, and communities. GRPs currently open for comprehensive updates are listed below, along with the contact information if you have questions or want to participate.

Because a lot can change in a GRP planning area between comprehensive updates, Ecology is committed to conducting interim GRP updates when necessary. Examples of interim updates include improvements to response strategies resulting from lessons learned during drills or real spills, updated contact information, changes to driving directions after roadwork, and other response-enhancing edits. Ecology publishes interim updates to GRPs on a quarterly basis.

Interim GRP Updates for Spring 2022

Grays Harbor GRP: new information provided by NRCES from a site visit resulted in updates to CHRC-0.1 (site access, site safety, and land owner contact information) and NSKC-0.2 (site access and safety information).

Central Puget Sound GRP: during a recent spill in Elliott Bay, notification strategy CPS-31-N was utilized. New contact information for this strategy has been added.

North Puget Sound GRP: We updated NPS-75, NPS-74, and NPS-73 to remove references to the old refinery name; and updated contact and access information for NPS-07.

Moses Lake/Crab Creek GRP: after lessons learned from a GRP deployment exercise, we moved the location of MOLK-39.3 slightly east so that it is further away from a dam gate and allows for better access, monitoring, and boom maintenance.

Strait of Juan de Fuca GRP: A lot of good work and collaboration with tribes and other stakeholders has been done on this GRP. Equipment, boom, and/or location information has been updated for the following strategies while the rest of the plan is undergoing a comprehensive update: STR-01, STR-02, STR-03, STR-04, STR-05, STR-06, STR-07, and STR-11.

Everyone has a Role in Improving the State’s GRPs

The oil industry regularly exercises oil spill contingency plans to ensure their readiness to respond to an oil spill. These exercises often involve the deployment of GRP strategies. Each deployment is an opportunity to validate a response strategy’s effectiveness, and to make improvements if it is necessary.

GRPs also rely on feedback from professional oil spill responders, natural resource agencies, tribes, and the public. This valuable feedback is often reflected in a comprehensive update, or through the interim update process.

If you have information or ideas that can make GRP’s even more effective, Ecology wants to know! Please email GRP feedback to  If you are visiting a response strategy site, you can use our new GRP Strategy Assessment Form to help document your assessment. We thank you in advance for helping the Northwest Regional Contingency Plan and the Area Plans maintain a high level of readiness to respond to oil spills.


Habitat Strategic Initiative Grant Program Webinar: Pilot Program – “Oil Spill Awareness and Response Support” Training

Are you interested in how to use training and development opportunities to connect volunteer organizations with agencies and others that can use them in an emergency?

Each year, over 20 billion gallons of oil and other hazardous chemicals are transported in the Puget Sound.  Trained volunteers can support spill response and assessment led by local and state agencies. The Oil Spill Awareness and Response Support (OSARS) training was designed to engage and prepare volunteer organizations to assist with oil spills in the Puget Sound region. This pilot program has helped to determine how to best connect volunteer organizations to oil spill response leads through expert-led trainings.  With continued OSARS trainings, diverse volunteer organizations can help build a network to support the coordinated agency response to oil spill emergencies.

Join the Habitat Strategic Initiative and Washington State University Extension on December 16th, 2020 at 1pm to learn more about the OSARS pilot program and the novel approach to connecting volunteer organizations with local and state emergency response agencies. For a project summary, check out the Project Factsheet.

Webinar Details

December 16th, 2020 at 1pm

Click here to join the meeting

Or call in (audio only): (206) 809-2214

Phone Conference ID: 144 532 092#

Project leads

Dr. Patricia Townsend is an Extension Specialist for Washington State University (WSU) and directs the Natural Resource Programs at Snohomish County Extension including Beach Watchers, Sustainable Community Stewards, and Promotores del Medio Ambiente. Patricia also works with stakeholders throughout the Pacific Northwest on issues related to climate change, sustainability, renewable energy, ecosystem services, and green infrastructure. Patricia received a Ph.D. from the University of Washington and a M.S. from the University of Florida.

Associate Professor and Natural Resources Regional Extension Specialist

Snohomish County Extension

Urban Natural Resources Specialist

Metropolitan Center for Applied Research & Extension

Washington State University

Snohomish County WSU Extension

(425) 357-6020

Jonathan Robinson is the Beach Watcher Program Coordinator for Washington State University (WSU) Extension in Snohomish County.  In this position he oversees volunteers that are dedicated to protecting the Salish Sea through education, research and stewardship.  Jonathan received his M.S. from Western Washington University and B.A from University of Hawaii at Hilo.

Beach Watchers Program Coordinator

Washington State University Snohomish County Extension

(425) 357-6008

This project is associated with NTA 2016-0315

This project has been funded wholly or in part by the United States Environmental Protection Agency under assistance agreement PC-01J22301 through the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. The contents of this document do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Environmental Protection Agency or the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, nor does mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation for use.

Please contact Jennifer Griffiths (jennifer.griffiths@dfw or Cynthia Catton ( with general questions regarding the Habitat Strategic Initiative and Cynthia Harbison ( regarding the webinar. Follow the work of all the Strategic Initiatives on our blog.

North Central Puget Sound GRP Response to Public Comments

The Washington Department of Ecology is updating the North Central Puget Sound (NCPS) Geographic Response Plan (GRP). An important part of the update process was hearing from the people that live, work, and play in the GRP area. To facilitate this, we opened the plan to public comment from September 18th  to October 18th, 2020.
Below, you will find an overview of comments received and Ecology’s response. Ecology appreciates everyone who took the time to provide comments on this GRP. GRPs are improved by this community’s input and we appreciate your ongoing efforts in protecting Washington’s environment. Feel free to reach out to or 360-480-2084 with any questions.

North Central Puget Sound GRP Responsiveness Summary to Comments

Ecology post plans for public review for 30 days. After the 30 day public review period ends, Ecology addresses all comments received. The following is a responsiveness summary to your comments submitted to Ecology.

GRP Section

Public Comment

Ecology Response

General Updating GRPs is a critical, pro-active step in oil spill preparedness and response. Thank you for supporting Ecology’s effort to update Geographic Response Plans in Snohomish County.
General Changing the format of the GRP to a web-based one with downloadable sections and embedded links substantially increases the utility of the document, and facilitates a more effective, timely response, when implementation of the plan is necessary. Thank you for your feedback on the online platform we are migrating to in the upcoming year.
General Revisions of the Site Description and Resources at Risk sections are significant improvements. We greatly appreciate the inclusion of much of the county-specific information that we previously provided in writing during the 2017 Stillaguamish GRP update as well as with those we discussed with you in-person during our meeting last year (Sept.2019). On behalf of Ecology and the Spills Program, I would like to thank the Snohomish Marine Resources Committee for going above and beyond in the review of this GRP. Thanks to your tireless work in preparedness, this plan is clearer and will be more effective in a potential spill.
General Recommend acknowledging and cross-referencing between adjacent GRPs, when applicable, given the hydrologic connectivity of the region, the widespread distribution and mobility of the area’s sensitive natural resources, and the significant importance of the local cultural and economic resources. Such cross-references would allow spill responders to be better informed and potentially help them more effectively minimize regional spill-related impacts. As Ecology moves GRPs to an online platform, there will be cross referencing on the JETTY site that will assist responders in identifying resources at risk across GRP boundaries.
Site Description 2.6 RISK ASSESSMENT 2.6 ? Are other sections numbered? Please check for consistency. This was an error in numbering- the 2.6 has been removed from the GRP.
Site Description Aircraft: The Whidbey Naval Air Station and Payne Paine Field (Everett) … note spelling correction The spelling error has been corrected in the GRP.
Site Description Recreational Boating: Accidents involving recreational watercraft in the planning area have the potential to result in spills of a few gallons of gasoline up to hundreds of gallons of diesel fuel various petroleum products (e.g., gasoline, diesel, lubricants). Thank you for your recommended edits to this paragraph- the sentence has been updated in the GRP and reads much clearer now.
Response Contacts Sheet Thanks for sending the response contact page for the NCPS GRP.  The only addition that I would suggest is to consider  including the Snohomish Conservation District. It works very closely and collaboratively with farmers, agriculture folks, and rural landowners throughout the county and may be a valuable asset to contact in the event of a spill response. Due to the general role of conservation districts, it seems inappropriate to include them in the emergency contacts sheet. However, conservation districts do represent significant economic resources, and their contact information is now included in the economic resources at risk section of the plan.
Non-Floating Oils Response Options Water turbidity The use of the term “sedimentation” in multiple contexts is somewhat inaccurate and misleading. Suggest replacing text with: Turbulence can result in increased sediment loads in the water column that, if entrained with spilled oil, may increase the oil’s density and cause it to submerge or sink. The corresponding section was updated to include the clarifications surrounding sedimentation/turbulence. This change will be made in all GRPs with a corresponding non-floating oil section.
Non-Floating Oils Response Options In the “Conditions And Considerations For Non-Floating Oil” table: If “Open Public Shellfish Harvesting” and “Open Commercial Shellfish Harvesting” include Dungeness crab harvesting, then these categories are present in Port Gardner/Possession Sound. Spawning Areas are present in the Port Gardner/Possession Sound area.
o A Recreational Dive Area is present in Port Gardner/Possession Sound (i.e., the Mukilteo T-dock dive site near the ferry/Silver Cloud Hotel)
Thank you for identifying additional information for this new section of the GRP. The grid has been updated to reflect the information you shared in your comment, except for the open public shellfish harvesting in Port Gardner. I used the Department of Health’s shellfish harvesting map layer to determine the absence or presence of public shell fishing. The only beach mapped in the general area has been closed to public shellfish harvest.
Response Strategies and Priorities Given the significant ecological, tribal, and recreational/economic resources at risk in the Port Susan area, it would be advisable to consider a response strategy for the Kayak Point region of Sector NC-4. Kayak Point County Park is located there. It has a boat ramp and a large parking lot, and could be used as a response staging area. The protection of resources at risk during an oil spill are not limited to what is contained in a Geographic Response Plan. Due to the feasibility and accessibility of the Port Susan area, it would be difficult to design an effective response strategy in this area without better defining a specific resource at risk to protect. However, during a spill ad hoc strategies should and would be developed to keep oil out of Port Susan. Kayak Point County Park will be included in the plan as a more localized staging area for Port Susan, per your comment.
Response Strategies and Priorities There is a NCPS GRP response strategy and option for the railroad crossing of the Stillaguamish River near West Pass (NC-14), but not for the nearby railroad crossing over the Stillaguamish River just west-north-west of Silvana (near the intersection with South Slough). The ecologically and economically sensitive resources in that area, coupled with the large quantities of oil transported by rail in Snohomish County, warrant further consideration for a response plan at this location. COOKS-0.2, within the Stillaguamish River GRP, serves as a collection strategy at the railroad crossing near South Slough. Additionally, downriver of the railroad crossings in this vicinity is HATS-1.75, another collection strategy designed to prevent oil from entering Port Susan. Also, NCPS-15 is a collection strategy downstream of another railroad crossing that would prevent oil from entering Port Susan. No additional GRPs will be added to NCPS at this time, however a note will be added to the Stillaguamish GRP, where the railroad crossings exist, to look into more protection strategies, as needed.
Resources at Risk Eelgrass beds Delete last sentence of the paragraph The kelp beds present near Deception Pass and the northern part of Skagit Bay serve as important fish rearing areas. This sentence was deleted per your request, it duplicates information that is gone into at greater depth in a later paragraph.
Resources at Risk Revise paragraph on kelp beds as follows: Scattered kelp beds occur in the northern portions of the region, near Deception Pass and the northern part of Skagit Bay, as well in the southern portion of the region, near Gedney (Hat) Island. These habitats perform ecological functions similar to eelgrass beds, and serve as important fish rearing areas. The paragraph on kelp beds was revised, per your recommendations.
Resources at Risk Restoration sites are areas where significant efforts have occurred to restore natural functions in a degraded habitat. The missing verb was added to this section.
Resources at Risk Rock reefs Sentence revision: Macro algae, and including kelps, also widely utilize the structure that this type of habitat provides. Addition: The crevices and overhangs associated with these reefs serve as valuable habitat for a wide variety of other species such as crabs, shrimp, octopus, wolf eel, rockfish, cabezon and lingcod. The language in this section was updated to include kelp as a macro algae, thank you for the correction. Additionally, cabezon were added to the list of species in this section.
Resources at Risk Marbled murrelets occur throughout the region, especially near Deception Pass, within Saratoga Passage, and in the southern portion of Port Susan and Port Gardner/Possession Sound. Port Gardner and Possession Sound were added to this section of the plan.
Resources at Risk Small numbers of gray whales are commonly found in Saratoga Passage, and Port Susan, Port Gardner and Possession Sound from spring through late fall. Port Gardner and Possession Sound were added to this section of the plan.
Resources at Risk 8. Old Stillaguamish River Channel: Eelgrass, wetland, salt marsh and slough habitats. Salmonid spawning and rearing habitat. Presence of federally threatened bull trout, Puget Sound Chinook, and Puget Sound steelhead. Waterfowl and shorebird concentrations.). Harbor seals. Leque Island and zis a ba restoration sites. The unnecessary “)” has been removed from the plan.
Resources at Risk 13. Possession Sound, Gedney (Hat) Island and vicinity: Forage fish spawning. Juvenile salmonids and rearing habitat. Dungeness crab and shellfish. Bald eagle nesting and marbled murrelet. Orca, humpback whales, and gray whale feeding area (spring through fall). Possession Sound was added to the title of number 14, and the additional species were updated per your recommendation.
Resources at Risk 14. Cultus Bay: This area is not within the boundary of the NCPS GRP. It is in the adjacent Admiralty Inlet GRP. Recommend deleting from the document’s text and Geographic Areas of Concern Figure 3. A clarifying statement was added to this paragraph, directing the reader to the Admiralty Inlet GRP for more information.
Economic Resources at Risk Please add Edgewater Beach Park and the Mount Baker Terminal Shipping Facility. Both are located in Mukilteo/South Everett and are owned by the Port of Everett (check to see if Mukilteo will be the manager/point of contact for the Edgewater Beach Park as part of the city’s Waterfront Landing Plan/Project currently in progress). Both locations represent economic resources potentially impacted in the event of an oil spill in the area and should be identified in the GRP. Thank you for identifying these additional economic resources at risk for addition in the NCPS GRP. Both Edgewater Park and the Mount Baker Terminal have been added to the economic resources at risk portion of the plan.

Spokane River GRP – New Format and Non-Floating Oil Information

The final version of the updated Spokane River GRP (SPR-GRP) is now available in an online format including new language on non-floating oil risks!

In 2019, the Northwest Area Committee convened a Task force to study plan accessibility by finding out more about users and they ways in which they are used. The Task force developed a survey that generated valuable feedback around best practices, types of users, and ways to improve the development and publication process. A key outcome is the new format hosted on this website.  This change was important to address the efficiency and sustainability of development today and into the future.

The new online format allows users to easily scroll through text-heavy narrative sections like Site Description and Resources at Risk, while also maintaining the valuable PDF format of the response-oriented sections like Response Options and Considerations and Response Strategies and Priorities.

Also included in this update are special non-floating oil (NFO) considerations, including a new section on Non-Floating Oil Response Options and Considerations and updates to the standard Resources at Risk section.

We believe this format addresses many of the accessibility concerns of the response community, but we would love to hear your ideas on how we can make it better. Please submit your comments, questions, and suggestions for improvement to

Oil Spill Exercise and Preparedness Training Videos

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is pleased to announce the completion of the Oil Spill Exercise and Preparedness training videos. Thank you very much for your all time, input, shared content, reviews, and feedback that went into the development of these resources.

These training resources are now publically releasable and posted on the DOT Website. They and can be incorporated into your existing programs or serve as an orientation or annual refresher training when needed.

Video One

  • Overview of Oil Spill Exercise and Response – Covers the history, authorities, and complexities of oil spill response and outlines how the oil spill response community works together on planning, and provides an overview of oil spill exercise and response.

Video Two

  • Anatomy of Oil Spill Exercise and Response – Provides examples of roles and responsibilities during oil spill exercises and events and highlights the Unified Command and Incident Command System functions and how the “Planning P” is utilized during an exercise or incident.

The videos are also available for download on PHMSA’s YouTube channel.