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Naturally occurring wood in King County rivers

Naturally occurring wood in King County rivers

King County has developed a set of standard procedures for managing naturally occurring wood in King County Rivers. These procedures outline what actions will be taken by the King County Water and Land Resources Division and the King County Sheriff’s Office in managing naturally-recruited large wood in rivers for public safety.


King County plays an active role in and around local rivers to achieve both public safety and environmental stewardship goals.  The County engages with the public to promote individual action that support these goals, and also designs and builds projects that advance these goals.  Projects designed to achieve flood risk reduction and habitat restoration goals often modify rivers and their floodplains.  In developing such projects, the County works to avoid or mitigate outcomes that might increase risks to public safety. 

Trees falling into or floating down the river can lodge in ways that create natural obstacles which may pose a safety risk to people who live, work or play in and around our rivers, or to critical public infrastructure that supports the lives and livelihoods of our citizens.  The Procedures for Managing Naturally Occurring Large Wood in King County Rivers (Procedures) serve as a  guideline for addressing the hazards that occur as a result of natural processes in our river environments.  Specifically, these Procedures define how the King County Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Natural Resources and Parks will coordinate to respond to reports of fallen trees that lodge in our rivers and may pose a safety risk to people who live, work or play in and around our rivers. 

Additional reference materials

Wood Investigation Report (268 Kb pdf):  A field investigation form used by Water and Land Resource Division staff and the King County Sheriff’s Office in responding to a report of large wood that may pose a safety hazard in a King County river.  Defines those risk factors that should be taken into account during the investigation, and documents the findings.

Instream Project Design Checklist (102 Kb pdf): A form completed by King County project teams to document public safety consideration at each stage of design and implementation of river projects. 

Draft Guidance: Public Safety Management Plan Example Checklist (397 Kb pdf)  A draft guide for developing a post-construction management plan for addressing public safety at King County project sites. Plans will be individually developed to reflect the specific conditions of each project and appropriate long-term site management strategies.

For questions about naturally-occurring large wood in King County rivers, please contact Nancy Sandford, Cedar/Sammamish/Issaquah Project Manager, River and Floodplain Management Section.