Quileute Tribe of La Push Relocation, Washington State

The federally recognized Quileute Tribe of La Push in northwest Washington is implementing a phased approach to managed retreat in response to climate change impacts of sea-level rise, increased flooding, and storm surge from tsunamis. Specifically, the Tribe is seeking to relocate its school, senior center, government buildings, and future housing above the Tribe’s one-square-mile reservation on the Pacific coast, currently at sea level. The Quileute Tribe’s community engagement processes and planning strategies may provide transferable lessons for other state and local jurisdictions considering similar questions of coastal retreat. 

The Tribe created a campaign, “Move to Higher Ground,” to plan for and implement this managed retreat decision. Move to Higher Ground’s mission is to “secure the future of the Quileute tribe by moving the at-risk community to the safe zone where their culture and heritage can continue to thrive for generations to come.” 

The Tribe will not mandate that residents in La Push relocate. Also, the Quileute are prioritizing the development of a new school and other critical and community facilities first, and relocation of residences after. In 2018, U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs awarded the tribe $44.1 million to build a new school 250 feet above sea level.1  In 2012, the Obama Administration (through Congressional legislation) transferred 785 acres in Olympic National Park, which includes the Move to Higher Ground site, back to the Quileute Tribe in a federal-tribal land grant or land swap.2

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  • Quileute Tribe

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