Hamilton, WA

The town of Hamilton today

hamilton, washington

Tucked in a deep oxbow of the Skagit River, Hamilton has endured a serious flood roughly every three to four years. Today the town is home to about 300 people with 90 percent of the residential area located within the floodplain, with few financially feasible options for those who want to escape the floods and stay in their beloved town.
In 2018, Hamilton sought Forterra’s help in funding the purchase of a 48-acre parcel of land above the floodplain to serve as the town’s urban growth area. Forterra bought the property in 2019 with donated funds and worked with the community on a neighborhood design that embodies sustainability and residents’ need for affordably priced housing, business and community space.
Providing the community an opportunity to move to higher ground will enable further restoration of a section of the Skagit that serves as a spawning area for five native species of Pacific salmon, producing 60 percent of the Puget Sound’s endangered Chinook salmon. This stretch of river is also the ancestral land for local tribes — including the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, Upper Skagit Indian Tribe and Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe — who have led restoration work on the Skagit for decades. Continued restoration along the Skagit will preserve our region’s natural legacy while supporting threatened salmon and orca populations.


Since 2018, Forterra has worked closely with the town’s leadership and community members to advance their vision of a neighborhood design that embodies sustainability and residents’ need for affordably priced housing, business, and community space. Major benchmarks included acquiring the property, commissioning a triple net-zero feasibility study and helping the town update its zoning codes.
In February 2021, the Hamilton Town Council approved the new neighborhood’s conceptual site plan which embodies sustainability, and honors the town’s rich history, culture and natural assets. Potential features of the project may include:
  • Affordable homes for current Hamilton residents
  • Dining, retail and community space
  • Buildings constructed from locally- and responsibly-sourced building material
  • Ample open space, such as playgrounds, parks and natural areas
  • “Net Zero” goals for energy consumption, water use and carbon emissions
  • Advanced wastewater and sewage treatment avoiding negative environmental impacts

Floodplains by Design Funding Opportunity

Forterra and partners received a Department of Ecology Floodplains by Design Grant. The grant directly supports the work in Hamilton in three main ways:
  • Developing a Community Emergency Education and Preparedness Program: Materials and outreach efforts to ensure that homeowners understand their options, responsibilities and liabilities related to owning property in the floodway.
  • Floodplain Acquisitions: Project development which includes educating property owners on voluntary buyout options, property owner negotiations, due diligence and closing transactions. The grant provides an opportunity to acquire 9-12 properties in the floodplain.
  • Structure Demolition and Replanting/Restoration: Once properties with structures are acquired, Forterra can begin to restore the land. Demolition will include removal of all structures including infrastructure like septic tanks, foundations and utilities. All materials and trash will be removed, and the sites will be planted with native species that will contribute to natural floodplain functions.


For decades, the town of Hamilton has faced historic floods. Hamilton sought Forterra’s help in funding the purchase of a 48-acre parcel of land to serve as the town’s urban growth area out of the river’s reach. Together they are working with residents to create new housing options that address these economic and environmental concerns.


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Forterra and partners are applying for a Department of Ecology Floodplains by Design Grant to develop a Community Flood Education and Preparedness program, support property owners with voluntarily selling their vulnerable properties through a buy-out program and restore the floodway through structure demolition, septic removal and planting of native species on acquired properties.


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