Thurston Climate Adaptation Project Overview

In late 2015, TRPC received a grant to develop a watershed-based plan with adaptation actions that the Thurston County region’s (Thurston Region) public- and private-sector stakeholders could take to reduce, prepare for, and cope with projected climate change impacts in the decades ahead.

The state Department of Commerce administered the grant funding over the project period, which concluded in early 2018.

The planning area encompassed three watersheds that overlay northern and eastern Thurston County and drain into Puget Sound (See Map); these watersheds — defined by the Washington Department of Ecology as Watershed Resource Inventory Areas (WRIAs) — include Nisqually (WRIA 11), Deschutes (WRIA 13), and Kennedy/Goldsborough (WRIA 14). Many of the plan's 91 actions may be applied effectively throughout the broader Puget Sound region and other areas with similar geographies and climate risks.
A March 2016 king tide event inundates downtown Olympia’s Percival Landing and Sylvester Street. Sea-level rise is expected to raise the risk of coastal flooding associated with such high-tide events.

Project Map

Project Tasks

The planning work entailed:

  • Researching and summarizing climate change projections for the region.
  • Assessing climate change vulnerabilities, risks and impacts.
  • Developing adaptation strategies and actions.
  • Conducting benefit-cost analyses.

Project Team

The project team — composed of TRPC and Thurston County staff members — worked with two advisory committees to review and refine project materials: a Scientific Advisory Committee, composed of subject specialists from local tribes and universities; and, a Stakeholder Advisory Committee, composed community of representatives from local municipalities, nonprofits and other entities.

The project team updated local jurisdictions periodically, engaged the general public, and sought final TRPC policymaker adoption of the plan in January 2018. Like TRPC’s Sustainable Thurston plan, the Thurston Climate Adaptation Plan includes a menu of strategies and actions for human and natural systems, as well as identifies leads and partners.