The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) has updated the Ice Harbor Master Plan

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), Walla Walla District, has prepared a draft Master Plan with an accompanying draft Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) and Environmental Assessment (EA) to revise the outdated 1977 Ice Harbor Master Plan. These documents are available for your review via the links on the right-hand side of this webpage.

The Master Plan guides how the Corps manages Ice Harbor project lands surrounding Lake Sacajawea behind Ice Harbor Dam.  Master Plans are about the land – they do not address dam operations (e.g., spill, fish passage, or dam breaching), flood risk management (e.g., levees), or navigation. 

The Corps will accept comments on the Draft Master Plan, EA, and FONSI from July 1 through 30, 2021.  See below for information on what the Master Plan covers, the different areas in the Ice Harbor Project, and how you can comment.

As part of the process, the Corps has scheduled an open house public meeting to provide information and accept comments on the draft Master Plan and EA. This meeting is scheduled:

                Thursday, July 22, 2021 from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m.

                Formal presentations at 5:00 and 6:00 p.m.

                Ice Harbor Visitor Center, Burbank, WA

                *Please note that access to the Ice Harbor Visitor Center requires a valid government-issued photo I.D. for all adults (e.g., driver’s license, passport).

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What is a Master Plan?

A Master Plan describes how we manage lands surrounding Lake Sacajawea under our care.  It describes:

  • The unique and important factors for this Project that influence management
  • The natural resources on these lands (e.g., soils, vegetation, endangered species)
  • The cultural resources on these lands (e.g., sites of historical and/or cultural significance)
  • The recreational resources on these lands (e.g., the unique recreational opportunities, factors which influence recreation)

Once the resources are identified and described, the Master Plan describes our goals as we manage these resources for the next 20 years.  Based on those resource objectives, the current land use, existing regulations, and public input, each parcel of land is assigned a land use classification.

This land classification is the meat of the Master Plan.  The land classification determines the main use of each parcel of land (e.g., recreation, wildlife management).  The Master Plan describes each land management unit by name and identifies any unique characteristics or resource concerns for that area.  Restricted areas and no-wake zones on the surface water of Lake Sacajawea are also identified.

Master Plans do not:

  • Deal with details of design or administration of the lands – the Master Plan is a high-level, conceptual document.
  • Address dam operations like spill, fish passage, or dam breaching. 
  • Discuss navigation or flood risk management.
  • Make large-scale changes to how lands are currently managed; there are restrictions and regulations that guide the management of public lands by the Corps.  However, because Corps regulations have changed significantly in the 44 years since the last Master Plan, there are larger than normal changes to this Master Plan.

Why did the Master Plan need to be updated?

The short answer is because it was 44 years old and did not comply with current Corps regulations.  Since then, the authorized land classifications have changed to account for contemporary land uses like mitigation.  The associated EA discusses the environmental impacts to the natural and human environment from the administrative changes to land use classifications.


Land Classifications

Land classifications determine which activities might be authorized or prohibited on a parcel of land.  For instance, an area classified as High-Density Recreation will likely have camping sites, paved trails, more sophisticated bathrooms for the public, and boat ramps and docks.  An area classified as Wildlife Management will likely have more primitive bathroom facilities and other amenities, because the focus is providing wildlife habitat, not recreational opportunities to the visiting public.  The new land classifications are better defined and a bit simpler than the old land classifications.  Here is a chart comparing the land classifications for the old Master Plan with the currently authorized land classifications that were used in the updated Master Plan:


Ice Harbor Project


There are several recreation areas managed by the Corps on the shores of Lake Sacajawea.  Charbonneau Park and Fishhook Park offer swim beaches, camping sites, reservable group shelters, picnic tables, and boat ramps.  Levey Park and Windust Park are lesser-known gems with great access to the water and fewer crowds. Click on the link for Ice Harbor Recreation to learn more about recreation opportunities at Ice Harbor.


Fish and Wildlife

Ice Harbor also includes several Habitat Management Units (HMUs) surrounding Lake Sacajawea.  The HMUs provide habitat for fish and wildlife species.  People are welcome to come and walk around these HMUs to watch wildlife, go birding, and in many instances, hunt, though there may be restrictions on certain weapons for different HMUs.  For information on the HMUs that the Corps manages, please visit the site linked above for Ice Harbor Lock and Dam, or Ice Harbor Recreation.


Cultural Resources

The lands surrounding Lake Sacajawea possess many different types of resources:  natural, recreational, and cultural or historical.  The Corps takes our responsibility to protect these resources seriously, and an updated Master Plan will help us manage these resources for future generations.


How can I comment?

There are several ways that you can provide input to the Corps on the draft Master Plan, draft FONSI, or EA. 

  • Submit a comment by clicking on the map at the top of this page.  You can click on specific areas (e.g., Charbonneau Park, Big Flat HMU) and make comments specific to that land management unit.
  • Submit a comment on this page, below!
  • You may also submit electronic comments via e-mail to:
  • You may submit written comments via U.S. Mail to the Corps at:
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Walla Walla District
ATTN:  Ice Harbor Master Plan
201 North 3rd Avenue
Walla Walla, WA  99362-1876

Comments need to be submitted or postmarked no later than July 30, 2021 to ensure consideration.  All comments submitted will be considered and become part of the permanent public record.

For more information on the public meeting or the Master Plan revision, please contact the Master Plan Coordinator at or at 509-527-7137.  For more information on the draft FONSI or EA, please contact the Environmental Resource Specialist at 509-527-7256.