The Nisqually Watershed Stewardship Plan

Recognizing the priceless heritage of the Nisqually River, in 1985 the state legislature directed the Department of Ecology to create a comprehensive management plan for the river and its watershed.

Click for a larger map of the Nisqually River Basin

The Nisqually River Task Force, consisting of federal, state and local governments, business representatives, the Nisqually Indian Tribe, and interested citizen activists, created the Nisqually River Management Plan. The plan provides for a “…balanced stewardship of the area’s economic resources, natural resources and cultural resources”, and is now known as the Nisqually Watershed Stewardship Plan (NWSP).  The Nisqually River Foundation provides for staffing and coordination of plan elements.

One of the most pristine rivers in Washington State, the Nisqually journeys through an amazing variety of habitats – from subalpine meadows and old-growth Douglas-fir forest through forested foothills and across lowland prairies to its estuarine reaches and tidal mudflats.

The watershed encompasses a broad range of land uses and jurisdictions – rural communities, national and state parks and forests, public and private timberlands, municipal hydropower projects, farmlands, Mount Rainier, the Nisqually Indian Reservation, Joint Base Lewis McChord and the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge.

The NWSP has 12 indicators that relate to the three branches of sustainability — social, environmental, and economic integrity. These indicators form the guiding principles and overall goals on the Nisqually River Council. A portion of each Nisqually River Council meeting is dedicated to NWSP discussion.


Pink Salmon Mashel Cr 2

Environmental Sustainability: The natural resources of the Nisqually watershed — the forests, the fish and wildlife, the water, and the agricultural lands — co-exist with the community and economy it supports. The natural resources of the watershed are finite and can easily be spoiled. With the looming pressures of population growth, we must redouble our efforts to leave a legacy of one of the healthiest and unspoiled watersheds in the region.

  • Protect, restore and enhance ecosystem function
  • Protect and enhance biological diversity
  • Promote sustainable resource use
  • Facilitate the appreciation, protection and enhancement of the watershed through education and participation

Social Sustainability: Communities in this watershed determine how they affect the economy and environment. It is important to keep these communities healthy so they can continue to make good decisions. Strong communities require access to good schools, health care, employment, the arts, and a healthy environment.20150926_101055_resized copy

  • Promote health and wellness in the community
  • Protect and enhance the network of trails and recreational opportunities for all ages and abilities
  • Promote local community identities, cultures, arts and heritage
  • Support fully functioning, integrated communities with the full complete of services

Economic Sustainability: An economy that is built on sustainable industries is critical to the success of this plan and the Nisqually watershed as a whole. We work to encourage other new and sustainable economic opportunities along with the tourism industry that is becoming well established. Our vision for sustainable businesses includes sustainable goods and services that are produced in a sustainable manner, within a culture of sustainability. We seek a healthy, vibrant economy that values the qualities that make the Nisqually watershed a wonderful place to live.

  • Promote the development of sustainable businesses and built communities
  • Support sustainable tourism and recreation
  • Enhance economic viability of sustainable agriculture, forestry, and fisheries
  • Increase market access for watershed-based businesses

The NWSP was most recently updated in 2011 and can be accessed here. The original Nisqually River Management Plan and the 2009 version of the NWSP can be accessed on our Meeting Notes & Documents page.