Update on Lake Kapowsin

Hello all:

This message is going out to the Lake Kapowsin proposed Aquatic Reserve planning committee, guests, and interested people from earlier public meetings. We completed 4 planning sessions for the Lake Kapowsin management plan, and are currently working on completing the full draft plan. We surveyed participants and the majority felt the committee had met sufficiently to contribute to the plan.  There were several people that requested further meeting(s), and to invite a broad audience.  Once the draft plan is complete, we will hold a community meeting to receive additional public input and we encourage everyone who has been involved in or following the process to attend. I’ll send another email announcing the meeting – estimate we’ll know the date by April or earlier – and the plan will be widely available and posted on-line at that time.

I’ve attached the meeting summary and also the presentation by geologist Patrick Pringle, requested at the meeting.

Please let me know if you have any questions.
Thank you,
Birdie Davenport, Aquatic Reserves Program Manager, Aquatic Resources Division


Proposed Lake Kapowsin Aquatic Reserve

Planning Advisory Committee Meeting Summary

Friday, January 22nd, 2016, 10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Graham Fire and Rescue | 23014 70th Ave. E, Graham

Planning Advisory Committee Participants: Rodney Heupel (Western Bass Club), Jim Halmo (Graham citizen); Bud Rehberg (Friends of Pierce County); Doug Wiedemeier, Steve Caromile, Tara Livingood-Schott (WDFW), Russ Ladley (Puyallup Tribe), Andy Anderson (Graham citizen and Kapowsin Historian), Russ Blount (Graham-Kapowsin citizen), Greg Volkhardt (Tacoma Water), Phil Fix (Resident), Lloyd Fetterly (Tahoma Audubon), Amy Moreno-Sills (Futurewise)


Public Attendees: Bill Pickard (Lake Kapowsin Trust), Amy Cruver (Pierce County Council Assistant), Patrick Pringle (Centralia College), Jeannette Matthews, Carol V. Wright (Graham-Kapowsin Community Council

 DNR Staff: Birdie Davenport, Michal Rechner, David Palazzi, Betty Bookheim, Angie Hong & Jamie Kilgo

 10:00 a.m. 

Introductions & agenda – Birdie Davenport, Aquatic Reserve Program Manager

 10:15 a.m. 

Lake Kapowsin geology, origins, and subfossil dating – Patrick Pringle, Professor of Earth Science, Centralia College

Geologic Context

  • Juan de Fuca plate is subducted under the North American plate.  About 100 km down, partial melting of the mantle above the subducting ocean crust forms magma that fuels the Cascade Range volcanoes.
  • The Puget Lowland is a glaciated tectonic forearc basin and is composed mostly of glacial and inter-glacial deposits (mostly stream-laid).
  • The Puget Lobe of the Vashon Glacier reached as far south as Maytown around 17,000 years ago and stayed for a few centuries at its maximum location.
  • Water flowed under the Puget Lobe and carved the channels of Puget Sound. Water also pooled at the margins of the Lobe.
  • The Puget Lobe dammed rivers from the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges and created Glacial Lake Carbon. It and other ice-marginal lakes occasionally filled up and released large floods of water and sediment across the lowland, carving features that include Tanwax Creek and Ohop Creek valleys.


Lahars and Lake Kapowsin Formation

  • Lake Kapowsin is located on the margin between the Cascade Range and the Puget Lowlands.
  • Rocky Crandell mapped three of the great Mount Rainier lahars (Osceola, Electron, and Paradise). He suspected Lake Kapowsin was formed around 530 years ago by the Electron Mudflow.
  • Electron Mudflow was likely triggered by a volcanic explosion, weak clay-rich sediments high on the volcano that had been created by hydrothermal alteration dislodged, moved rapidly down the Puyallup River as a lahar, and dammed Ohop valley to form Lake Kapowsin.
  • Electron Mudflow took about an hour to reach Orting.


Subfossil Tree Dating

  • Freshwater lakes are great at preserving trees that act as time capsules of climate information.
  • Many drowned or buried subfossil trees in Spider Lake, the Columbia River, the Kent area, and elsewhere have been cored and radiocarbon dated.
  • Electron Mudflow could be as thick as 50 feet at Electron.  Enormous trees caught in the Electron Mudflow have been documented and cored.  “Wiggle-match” radiocarbon dating of a large stump in Electron Mudflow at Orting shows the mudflow occurred ~500 years ago.
  • Trees in Lake Kapowsin were cored on May 10, 2015, including one about 3.5 feet in diameter—the 14.5-inch core from that tree contains 429 annual growth rings. Pat and student studied radiocarbon decay curve to pick a sample from a cored tree that yielded ~500-year age and correlating it to same buried forest in Orting.
  • Future research could involve coring more trees so that a precise calendar age could be determined by dendrochronology.

10:45 a.m.

Future Desired Conditions discussion – Birdie Davenport

The future desired conditions describe the overall condition for the reserve over the next 90 years:

  • Natural processes and habitats protected and restored; stumps and logs retained intact.
  • Monitoring and research have provided information on species, habitats, and human roles.  This has guided management.
  • Strong partnerships and self-sustaining local community stewardship support the reserve and keep it safe, clean and secure.
  • Education and outreach are well-established, public access and sustainable recreation are supported (fishing, hunting, boating, trails and picnicking).


In light of these long-term goals, proposals that would alter habitat and remove wood are inconsistent with this management plan.  The Aquatic Reserves Program reviews proposals for leasing aquatic lands on a case-by-case basis to see if they are consistent with the plan. This applies to proposals for significant alterations on any state-owned aquatic lands. [Does not apply to any upland proposals or alterations.]



Concern that the plan leaves no room for changes, need a way to proposed changes. Discussion about a proposed rowing club.

A.      Currently, a proposal has not been submitted to DNR. As we know it so far, it is not consistent with the plan [due to removal and alterations of submerged stumps].  A park is compatible with the Aquatic Reserve.


Comment that Pierce County has passed a resolution for a rowing club.


Question about the impacts of moving a stump.

A.   It is difficult to discuss in terms of degrees, can they even be moved? [how?] This would change habitat type and availability.


Comment that the lake is overstuffed with habitat and is dangerous.

 11:10 a.m.

Workshop: Objectives and strategies review – Angie Hong

Management plan objectives and strategies were listed around the room.  Each committee member was given three red stickers and three yellow stickers. They placed the red stickers next to strategies that need to be addressed and improved today.  Yellow stickers were for strategies that needed improvement and would be discussed if time allowed. All strategies with red dots were discussed as a group and comments provided are shown below.

Strategy Comment
1.2 §  Plan restricted to fishing, hunting, paddling

§  Needs to see more public access -> open it to other uses

2.3.e §  Subset of other strategies
1.2.a §  Needs to be fleshed out more & be more specific, i.e. interface with County

§  Trash affects quality of wetlands, sensitive areas

1.2.b & c §  What’s the coordination?

§  Stewardship -> i.e. Earth Day Cleanups

§  Private land owners need help -> to remove trash, could get permission to conduct clean-ups on private property

§  Specify what “coordination” means

§  Private land owners could reduce dumping by blocking 4×4 access?

2.2.a §  “Net maintenance” of logs, stumps, alternative mitigation, get access for public, open up the lake. Bass spawn of stumps -> depth. Aquatic preservation. No net loss of ecological function -> (i.e. SMP).
2.2.d §  Recognize upstream & downstream connection

§  What goes on in the lake can affect water bodies elsewhere

§  Collaborate with others to ensure protection

2.1.b. §  Ensure native plants thrive; invasive plants removed; keep invasives out -> how does this work with landowners

§  Target Yellow iris along shorelines

4.2.b. §  Needs more definition of what this is about

§  More proactive – “provide information”

§  Flesh out more / online / on-site

2.1.d §  Habitat protection should be a priority -> give more emphasis
1.1.b. §  More presence of law enforcement for public safety and to reduce theft & break-ins

§  How do we address this better?

§  Rowing center brings more presence -> provides oversight

§  Tough issue!

1.1.b & c §  These strategies are interconnected

§  More around the clock activity on lake would help

§  Emphasis on security and law enforcement

5.2.a §  Needs room for human access

§  Improvements must meet performance standards

§  Clearer language that identifies uses

§  “Less bureaucratic language;” the language is too restrictive; plan focuses on what you can’t do.

§  Example: stump at dock could not be removed

§  Can’t go to just natural resources

2.2.b §  Concern about loss of spawning habitat, topping stumps

§  Focus on ‘no net loss’ as an alternative to ‘don’t touch anything’




12:10 p.m.

Next steps: Management plan and implementation – Birdie Davenport

Tentative Timeline:



12:15 p.m.

Committee Questionnaire Summary

Thirteen questionnaires returned.

  • Nine were satisfied with the progress of the planning committee and feel this should be the last meeting.  Comments included:

–        Preserving the legacy/relic forest in the lake is paramount to protecting the entire ecosystem which current fish and wildlife resources are dependent on.

–        Majority of people want Lake Kapowsin to stay the same or be enhanced.  “Semi-wild” lakes that are accessible are somewhat rare.  Last thing needed is another lake full of docks and dense housing.

–        Good process.

–        Plan is positive and will benefit overall function of the lake.

–        I find the draft plan to be very detailed, providing information needed for further projects. As regards to public access (rowing) issue, look to the club and facilities on American Lake which would be a competitor to this positive future.

–        I am satisfied with the current plan. I do not see any need for increasing public access. Rowing or other new impactful activity compromises the integrity of the lake. The goal is to preserve the current site.


  • Four wanted to meet again.  Comments included:

–        More clarity on the rowing center. Concern the process was specifically to block the rowing center.

–        [Another meeting] could be helpful, not all issues were resolved.

–        Need more outside interest and involvement in this plan. Concern that the plan will further secure lake/keep [people] away.

12:20 p.m.

Public comment

Public attendees were given an opportunity to submit comments via the same questionnaires. Three questionnaires were returned. Two thought we should meet again. Comments:

–        More input from the alternative visions issue in your final draft. And then have meeting in a different format.  Include phrases like: 1) ‘No net loss of ecological function’; 2) Mitigation; 3) Access: at the meetings the #1 issue was more public access.  DNR owns no uplands so it will be impossible for DNR alone to increase access and foster water-dependent activities; 4) Reference existing ideas for activities and why they cannot or will not be improved.

–        Public input was too restricted, need outreach to a broader range of citizens and schools and businesses. Would like to see more presentations made to schools, camps, scouts, businesses who would/could benefit from other options. A cost/benefit analysis should be comparing DNRs plan with a park plan shown to benefit ADA students, seniors, families, commerce, etc.

12:30 p.m. Adjourn




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s