Tribes prevail, kill proposed coal terminal at Cherry Point

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sided with Northwest tribes Monday in a decision to block the largest proposed bulk-shipping terminal in North America at Cherry Point.

 

Lummi hereditary chief Bill James, on the beach at Cherry Point, says saving it is to preserve "the tribe's very way of life." It's the site of an ancient Lummi village. (Alan Berner/The Seattle Times)

Lummi hereditary chief Bill James, on the beach at Cherry Point, says saving it is to preserve “the tribe’s very way of life.” It’s the site of an ancient Lummi village. (Alan Berner/The Seattle Times)

 

By Linda V. Mapes, Seattle Times 

The Lummi Nation has prevailed in its fight to block the largest coal port ever proposed in North America, at Cherry Point.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the agency reviewing permits for the deep water port project, agreed with the tribe Monday that it could not grant a permit for a project that would infringe on the Lummi Nation’s treaty-protected fishing rights.

The 34-page decision was celebrated by community groups and tribes all over the Northwest that opposed the coal port.

The developer, SSA Marine of Seattle, declared the decision “inconceivable” and political, rather than fact-based. Bob Watters, SSA senior vice president and director of business development, said the company was “considering all action alternatives.”

But legal experts said far from outlandish, the decisionfollowed federal obligation to protect tribal treaty rights and the habitat that makes those reserved rights meaningful.

“This is based on a long line of precedent,” said Robert Anderson, director of the Native American Law Center at the University of Washington School of Law. “You can’t have a right to fish without a decent environment.”

Lummi fishing rights and the associated habitat are property rights protected against interference by states, the federal government and private parties, Anderson noted.

Tim Ballew II, chairman of the Lummi Indian Business Council called the decision “a big win for Lummi and for treaty rights and for Indian Country.” The tribe argued the project was a killer for its crab fishery and would thwart rebuilding the herring run that was once the prize of Puget Sound.

The terminal would have brought some of the largest ships afloat into the usual and accustomed fishing waters of the Lummi up to 487 times a year to load and unload bulk commodities, principally coal, bound for Asian ports.

The project touched a nerve on both sides of the border among communities fighting coal and oil transport projects — none larger than the port proposed for Cherry Point, the last undeveloped bit of shore on a deep-water cove, between a smelter and two oil refineries.

The Lummi fought the project from the start. The tribe was opposed not only to increased vessel traffic and risk of pollution from the project, but any disturbance of the site of one of its oldest and largest villages and burial grounds, upland from the proposed shipping terminal.

Promises by the developer to minimize and scale back the landside footprint of the project did not interest the Lummi, who argued the project could not be mitigated.

While SSA voiced shock at the decision, some industry analysts said it merely put a project that was never going to be economically viable out of its misery.

“This is like cutting the head off a zombie; it stopped making economic sense years ago, and now it’s officially dead,” said Clark Williams-Derry, director of energy finance at the Sightline Institute in Seattle. With coal prices in a long slide and no recovery in sight, the project had no financial future, Williams-Derry said.

“They have no market for the coal,” agreed Tom Sanzillow, based in New York as the director of finance for the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, a nonprofit think tank. Coal-export projects are “wasting a lot of investor capital and people’s time,” he said.

The campaign against the project was hard-fought and its foes implacable. Brian Cladoosby, president of the National Congress of American Indians and chairman of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community in La Conner, called coal “black death,” and vowed tribes would fight the project to the end.

Cladoosby said Monday, “Today was a victory not only for tribes but for everyone in the Salish Sea. I hope we are reversing a 100-year trend of a pollution-based economy, one victory at a time.”

Tribal opposition to the project from around the region was good news for citizens from Seattle to Bellingham and beyond, noted Cesia Kearns, based in Portland as deputy regional director of the Beyond Coal campaign for the Sierra Club. “Protecting treaty rights also protects everyone who calls the Salish Sea home. I feel just an incredible amount of gratitude,” she said.

Mel Sheldon, chairman of the board of directors for the Tulalip Tribes, which also have treaty-reserved fishing rights at Cherry Point, said the port would have taken away a way of life not only for those who fish, but for tribal and nontribal residents who treasure the environment. “This is a journey we are all on.”

The decision was made by the Seattle District commander, Cmdr. Col. John Buck. If in the future the Lummi withdrew their opposition, SSA Marine can restart the permitting process, the corps noted.

But Ballew made it clear that is not on the table.

“We have always made our treaty rights and protection of the Ancient Ones our first priority,” Ballew said. “And we always will.”

 

 

 

Bringing life back to the Qwuloolt Estuary

Partners from the Tulalip Tribes and a dozen other agencies and groups, including Marysville, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and NOAA, take in the view of the Qwuloolt Estuary on September 2, 2015. The levee was breached August 28, allowing the return of its native marshland.

Partners from the Tulalip Tribes and a dozen other agencies and groups, including Marysville, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and NOAA, take in the view of the Qwuloolt Estuary on September 2, 2015. The levee was breached August 28, allowing the return of its native marshland.

 

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

 

The Qwuloolt Estuary Restoration Project took 20 years to complete. The finish line was crossed on Friday, August 28, when massive excavators and bulldozers breached a levee and reopened 354-acres of historic wetlands to threatened Puget Sound chinook salmon. The levee breach culminated what has been recognized as the state’s second-largest ever estuary restoration project.

“This is a great, great day. It’s been a long time coming,” says Kurt Nelson, Tulalip Tribes’ Environmental Department Manager, at the September 2 levee breach celebration. “I’ve been on this project for 11 years and there have been many challenges and hurdles, but we’ve gotten through them all. What we have now is a 354-acre estuary wetland complex that saw its first tidal flows in 100 years last Friday [August 28].

“If you watch the live-stream webcam in fast motion, you’ll notice it’s almost like this site is breathing. The estuary is flooding and draining, flooding and draining with tidal waters, like a lung does with oxygen. It’s a nice comparison to bringing some life back to an isolated floodplain that hadn’t seen that kind of life in a longtime.”

The Qwuloolt Estuary Restoration Project (QERR) is a partnership of tribal, city, state and federal agencies aimed at restoring a critical tidal wetland in the Snohomish River estuary. The Qwuloolt Estuary is located within the Snohomish River floodplain approximately three miles upstream from its outlet to Puget Sound and within the Marysville City limits. The name, Qwuloolt, is a Lushootseed word meaning “salt marsh”.

Historically, the area was a tidal marsh and forest scrub-shrub habitat, interlaced by tidal channels, mudflats and streams. However, because of its rich delta soil, early settlers diked, drained and began using the land for cattle and dairy farming. The levees they established along Ebey Slough, as well as the drainage channels and tide gates, effectively killed the estuary by preventing the salt water from Puget Sound from mixing with the fresh water from Jones and Allen Creeks.

For the past 100 years the estuary was cut off from its connection with the tidal waters and denied the ability to act as a restorative habitat for wild-run chinook salmon and other native fish, such as coho and bull trout.  Through the cooperation of its many partners, this project has returned the historic and natural influences of the rivers and tides to the Qwuloolt.

The purpose of the project is to restore the Qwuloolt Estuary to historic natural conditions, while also mitigating some of the damage caused by the now defunct Tulalip Landfill on Ebey Island’s northwest edge. The former 145-acre landfill was operated on Tulalip Reservation land by Seattle Disposal Co. from 1964 to 1979 and become a Superfund site (polluted locations requiring a long-term response to clean up hazardous material contaminations) in 1995, before being cleaned up and capped in 2000.

Qwuloolt will provide critical habitat for threatened Puget Sound chinook and other salmon, as well as for waterfowl and migratory birds. Native habitat and functioning tidal marsh ecosystem were lost when the estuary was diked and cut off from tidal influence. This project will restore tidal flows to the historic estuary and promote: Chinook, bull trout, steelhead, coho and cutthroat rearing habitat, salmon access to greater Allen Creek, migratory and resident bird habitat, water quality improvements, Native vegetation growth and restoration, and natural channel formation.

Trying to recover these critical estuary habits are crucial to migrating juvenile salmon for the salmon recovery effort in the Snohomish region. The Qwuloolt Estuary can now, once again, provide food and refuge for those fish. The intent of the project is to increase the production and quantity of those salmon that are extremely important to the Tribe and our cultural-economic purposes, as well as to the public and State of Washington.

“[Qwuloolt] is not only a nursery area for hundreds of thousands of juvenile salmon that migrate from the upper basins of the Snohomish that will come through this estuary and feed on various prey species and grow very rapidly, but also contributes to the survival of fish all over the Snohomish basin,” explains Nelson. “It will improve the water quality of Jones and Allen Creek, while being an extremely important bird habitat for migratory waterfowl, as well as restoring native wetland vegetation.”

 

The Qwuloolt Estuary Restoration Project is overseen by a planning team with representatives from the Tulalip Tribes, NOAA, USFWS, WDOE, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, NRCS, and the city of Marysville.  Representatives from each entity were blanketed at a September 2 event celebrating the levee breach.

The Qwuloolt Estuary Restoration Project is overseen by a planning team with representatives from the Tulalip Tribes, NOAA, USFWS, WDOE, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, NRCS, and the city of Marysville. Representatives from each entity were blanketed at a September 2 event celebrating the levee breach.

 

The US Army Corps of Engineers were responsible for the levee construction and the levee breach, while the Tribes were responsible for the channels, the berms, the planting, and some of the utility work that needed to be done. From beginning to end QERR was all about partnership and working together in getting this project done. The US Army Corps of Engineers, the Tulalip Tribes, the city of Marysville, Department of Ecology, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, along with the Puget Sound Partnership and Fish and Wildlife services, all played instrumental roles in completing this project and it could not have been done without the collaboration each and every partner.

“As evidenced here today, it really has been a tremendous collaboration between the tribes and federal, state and local governments to bring this project through and really make a significant change for our environment,” says Col. John Buck of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “Over the past century we’ve seen this continuing degradation of our environment in the northwest and it’s through collaboration and partnership we can really affect change.”

*The Qwuloolt Estuary project cost $20 million. That money was obtained over a 17 year period that involved federal, state and tribal money. It also includes settlement and foundation money. Property purchase was $6 million, $2 million in planning, design, permitting and studies, $10 million on the levee, and another $2 million on constructing channels, berms and all the interior work.

 

Qwuloolt is:

  • Physical stream restoration is a complex part of the project, which actually reroutes 1.5 miles of Jones and Allen creek channels. Scientists used historical and field analyses and aerial photographs to move the creek beds near their historic locations.
  • Native plants and vegetation that once inhabited the area such as; various grasses, sedges, bulrush, cattails, willow, rose, Sitka spruce, pine, fir, crab apple and alder are replacing non-native invasive species.
  • Building in stormwater protection consists of creating a 6 ½ acre water runoff storage basin that will be used to manage stormwater runoff from the nearby suburban developments to prevent erosion and filter out pollutants so they don’t flow out of the estuary.
  • Construction of a setback levee has nearly finished and spans 4,000 feet on the western edge on Qwuloolt. The levee was constructed to protect the adjacent private and commercial property from water overflow once the levee is breached.
  • Breaching of the existing levee that is located in the south edge of the estuary will begin after the setback reaches construction. The breaching of the levee will allow the saline and fresh water to mix within the 400-acre marsh.

Other estuary restoration projects within the Snohomish River Watershed include; Ebey Slough at 14 acres, 400 acres of Union Slough/Smith Island and 60 acres of Spencer Island. The Qwuloolt Estuary Restoration Project has been a large collaboration between The Tulalip Tribes, local, county, state and federal agencies, private individuals and organizations.

 

 

 Contact Micheal Rios at mrios@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov

 

 

 

 

 

Inslee asks that Kennewick Man be returned to tribes

By the Associated Press

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Gov. Jay Inslee has sent a letter requesting that the remains of “Kennewick Man” be returned to Native American tribes.

Inslee’s letter was sent Tuesday to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Kennewick Man was discovered in 1996 in the water along the Columbia River in Kennewick.

Radiocarbon dating revealed the bones were about 8,500 years old. DNA analysis now shows a genetic link to modern Native Americans.

Inslee is asking that the remains be given to the appropriate tribes as soon as possible.

He says tribes in Washington have waited nineteen years for the remains to be reburied.

Inslee asked the corps to provide a timeline for the return of Kennewick Man and offered assistance from the state Department of Archaeology & Historic Preservation.

Lummi Nation rejects coal terminal applicant’s invitation to negotiate

Members of the Lummi Nation protested the proposed coal export terminal at Cherry Point on Sept. 21, 2012, by burning a large check stamped "Non-Negotiable." On Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015, Lummi Chairman Tim Ballew reiterated that stance, saying the tribe’s treaty rights were “not for sale” and the tribe would not negotiate with the company proposing the terminal.PHILIP A. DWYER — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

Members of the Lummi Nation protested the proposed coal export terminal at Cherry Point on Sept. 21, 2012, by burning a large check stamped “Non-Negotiable.” On Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015, Lummi Chairman Tim Ballew reiterated that stance, saying the tribe’s treaty rights were “not for sale” and the tribe would not negotiate with the company proposing the terminal.
PHILIP A. DWYER — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

 

By Ralph Schwartz, Bellingham Herald

 

Lummi Nation sent another clear message about a proposed coal terminal on Tuesday, Feb. 3: Under no terms will it accept Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point, an area near the Lummi Reservation with cultural and economic value to the tribe.

Lummi Chairman Tim Ballew  responded Tuesday to a Friday, Jan. 30,  request from terminal proponent SSA Marine to meet face to face and discuss how to “harmonize the facility with the environment.”

“I can assure you that we have carefully considered the impacts associated with this project and have concluded that these impacts simply cannot be avoided, minimized, or mitigated,” Ballew wrote in his response to Skip Sahlin, vice president of project development for Pacific International Terminals, an SSA Marine subsidiary created to develop Gateway Pacific Terminal.

“While we appreciate your desire to engage on these issues, we remain steadfastly opposed to this project and do not see the utility in pursuing any further discussion,” Ballew added.

Officials at SSA Marine had no comment.

Ballew sent  a letter Jan. 5 on behalf of the Lummi Indian Business Council to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, asking the agency to immediately reject a permit for the coal terminal because it would interfere with the tribe’s fishing grounds. The tribe has a right granted by an 1855 treaty to fish in its customary areas, which include Cherry Point and the shipping lanes that would see more traffic with the opening of Gateway Pacific Terminal.

Plans indicate the terminal could open as early as 2019 and would export up to 48 million metric tons of coal a year overseas.

Corps spokeswoman Patricia Graesser said the agency would give an initial response to the Lummis’ request on Wednesday, Feb. 4, but it wouldn’t be a decision on whether to reject the permit.

As determined in past court cases about disruptions to tribal fishing areas, the Corps needs to decide whether Gateway Pacific Terminal would have impacts that were more than negligible. Lummi Nation in its request to the Corps cites a vessel traffic study, which concluded that the traffic added by the terminal’s operation would increase by 73 percent the disruption of Lummi fishing by vessels.

In reaching out to the Lummis on Friday, Jan. 30, Sahlin mentioned the politics around the coal terminal decision, “and the pressure from many divergent interests to sway decision making.”

SSA Marine officials have accused terminal opponents of  getting the facts wrong. Sahlin said in his letter that more productive discussions would result if SSA Marine and Lummi Nation met face to face, as they have previously.

“We would welcome the opportunity to a return to such a fact-based interaction,” Sahlin wrote.

“Negotiation between Lummi and Pacific International Terminals is not an option,” Ballew said in a prepared statement. “Our treaty rights are non-negotiable and not for sale.”

In an interview, Ballew said the Corps in consultations with the tribe could reach a decision on the Lummi request in months rather than years. Graesser said in an email to The Bellingham Herald the Corps’ decision does not have a deadline.

The Corps will continue to draft an environmental impact statement for the terminal, a step that comes before permit approvals.

“I’m of the opinion that this government-to-government consultation (between the Corps and the tribe) puts the EIS process on the back burner,” Ballew said, “and their attention now should be on … making a decision based on the information that we’ve given them.”

Read more here: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2015/02/03/4113940_lummi-nation-rejects-coal-terminal.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy

 

Pollution From Columbia River Dams Must Be Disclosed

By: Associated Press; Source: OPB

 

The Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River. A legal settlement requires the Army Corps of Engineers to disclose the pollution that its dams put into the river. | credit: Amelia Templeton

The Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River. A legal settlement requires the Army Corps of Engineers to disclose the pollution that its dams put into the river. | credit: Amelia Templeton

 

For the first time in its history, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will have to disclose the amount of pollutants its dams are sending into waterways in a groundbreaking legal settlement that could have broad implications for the Corps’ hundreds of dams nationwide.

The Corps announced in a settlement on Monday that it will immediately notify the conservation group that filed the lawsuit of any oil spills among its eight dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers in Oregon and Washington.

The Corps will also apply to the Environmental Protection Agency for pollution permits, something the Corps has never done for the dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers.

The settlement filed in U.S. District Court in Portland, Oregon, ends the year-old consolidated lawsuit by the conservation group Columbia Riverkeeper, which said the Corps violated the Clean Water Act by unmonitored, unpermitted oil discharges from the eight hydroelectric dams.

The settlement reflects the recent tack of the EPA regulating the environmental impacts of energy. The agency has recently come up with regulations of mountaintop removal for coal and fracking for oil and gas.

As part of the settlement, the Corps admits no wrongdoing, but will pay $143,000 and the consolidated cases were dismissed.

When contacted by The Associated Press, the Corps’ Northwest and national offices requested questions via email Monday and did not immediately comment on the settlement.

The settlement will allow oversight of the dams by the EPA. The agency had the authority to regulate the dams’ pollution before the settlement, but it could not compel the corps to file for a pollution permit. The Corps will also be forced to switch to a biodegradable lubricant for its dam machinery if an internal study finds that it’s financially feasible.

The Corps isn’t just a polluter, however. It’s also a regulator of pollution under the Clean Water Act. The act grants the Corps the authority to issue permits for the discharge of materials excavated from or put into U.S. waterways.

“Under the letter of the law, they have been engaged in unpermitted discharge for years,” said Melissa Powers, an environmental law professor at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon. “They should have long ago said, ‘This is how much we’re discharging. Here are the environmental impacts.’ “

Monday’s settlement will force the Corps’ hand. To discharge pollutants into waterways, the polluters must obtain permission from state and federal governments. Before the settlement, the EPA knew about the unpermitted discharges from the dams, but the Corps said in letters to state agencies that it is not accountable to the EPA.

The Corps argued in the same letters that disclosing the mechanical workings of the dam as part of an oil-discharge summary could compromise the dams’ security.

In July 2013, Columbia Riverkeeper sued and demanded to know what the Corps was sending into the water and how much of it was going in.

“When you’re not regulated under a permit, you don’t have to say what the impact (of pollution) on water was,” Powers said.

Nationally, the settlement could force all unpermitted dams to obtain National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits from the EPA.

Daniel Estrin, an environmental law professor at Pace Law School in White Plains, New York, said the settlement will make it impossible for the Corps to say that all of its pollutant-discharging dams don’t require discharge permits.

“The Corps’ acknowledgement of the need for permits in this settlement will make it difficult for other owners to successfully deny that permits are required in the face of citizen suits like the one brought (here),” Estrin said.

The eight dams affected by the settlement are the Bonneville, the John Day, The Dalles and McNary in Oregon and the Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose and Lower Granite in Washington state.

Environmentalists will be closely watching the type of permit issued by the EPA, Powers said. A “site-specific” permit would likely include limits that the Corps would have to meet on the amount of oil discharged.

If the EPA instead issues a general permit, environmentalists would be less sanguine about its prospects, Powers said. General permits are less effective in compelling change because they are issued without specific metrics that must be met, she said.

In 2009, the EPA found a host of toxins in fish on the Columbia River, including polychlorinated biphenyl, a potentially carcinogenic synthetic that was banned for production in the U.S. in 1979.

The eight dams use turbines that have shafts and hubs filled with oil or other lubricants. The oil leaks to the surface, along with oil from drainage sumps, transformers and wickets that control water flow.

Quinault Indian Nation partners with Corps of Engineers during repairs of Taholah seawall

Quinault Indian Tribe and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle District work to repair seawall from Brandi Montreuil on Vimeo.

by Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

TAHOLAH, WA – Residents described the crashing storm waves like an earthquake hitting. Wave after wave broke over the weakened seawall that separates Taholah’s lower village from the raging North Pacific Ocean on the evening of March 25. During the storm, a section of the 1, 100 foot seawall failed, leaving residential properties and residents of the Quinault Indian Nation vulnerable to flooding.

The following morning the destruction was clear. A smokehouse lay in a twisted shamble, other outbuildings, and properties were damaged and flooded, and the weeks’ weather report came in projecting rain, high winds, and 3 to 5 foot waves with 13 to 15 second swells by the weekend. Seven hundred Taholah residents faced an emergency.

Fawn Sharp, President of the Quinault Indian Nation issued a voluntary evacuation, in which four families left the affected area. A request was also sent to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to declare the portion of Taholah affected as a federal disaster area and funds made available for disaster relief.

Seattle District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineer Brian Stenehjem leads the Corps team assisting Quinault Indian Nation. He explains that wave action has damaged a 500-foot section of the seawall that separates Taholah's Lower Village.Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

Seattle District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineer Brian Stenehjem leads the Corps team assisting Quinault Indian Nation. He explains that wave action has damaged a 500-foot section of the seawall that separates Taholah’s Lower Village.
Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved Quinault Nation’s emergency assistance request on March 27, and put the Seattle District Emergency Operations center into 24-hour operations. Teams were sent out to assist Quinault with temporary repairs to the failing 500-foot section of seawall, with a 48-hour completion date before an overnight storm coincided with high tide on March 29.

During the Corps initial inspection of the wall, they reported calving of rock and core material due to wave action.

During the March 25 storm, the wall sustained damage along the entire structure length, with the toe material of the berm removed and replaced with what protected the slope. This left the slope of the berm unprotected and vulnerable to waves and more removal of slope material, which if left unrepaired, would lead to a collapse of the berm’s capstones and loss of protection.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle District has put its Emergency Operations Center into 24-hour operations to assist the Quinault Indian Nation with flood protection measures following damage to the Taholoah Lower Village seawall on Tuesday, March 25.Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle District has put its Emergency Operations Center into 24-hour operations to assist the Quinault Indian Nation with flood protection measures following damage to the Taholoah Lower Village seawall on Tuesday, March 25.
Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

The repairs involved an orchestrated effort by Quinault’s Emergency Management, Quinault TERO workers, and the Army Corps of Engineers.

To make the necessary repairs, an access ramp had to be built to allow in excavators large enough to remove the capstones, and install a filter blanket and armor rock to prevent further erosion of the slope during wave action.

“We first had to make an access route to work our way down to the filter blanket,” said Brian Stenehjem, Corps of Engineers team leader on the project, about the layer of material placed between the riprap [a layer of stone to stabilize an area subject to erosion] and the underlying soil to prevent soil movement into or through the riprap.

Placement of armor rock was conducted on Saturday, March 29, which will help decrease the vulnerability to wave action to the slope.Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

Placement of armor rock was conducted on Saturday, March 29, which will help decrease the vulnerability to wave action to the slope.
Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

“The toe rock got scoured out which caused the slope rock to fall down so all we had was the caprock on top and the toe rock and nothing in the slope. And without that slope armor protection, it really leaves the whole structure susceptible to wave action. And that is the underlying problem if the structure doesn’t have any of that protection,” said Stenehjem

“We had to work our way down, creating a filter to protect the embankment, so we used class 2 riprap and you inline the whole embankment with that. Then we overlay armor rock, which is 2 to 4 ton rock, which will provide the protection.  So you want the big rock, your medium rock, and then your small rock as a kind of filtering,” said Stenehjem

Quinault Emergency Management staff member John Preston, drives past a residence that sustained damage due to the breach on Tuesday evening, March 25.Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

Quinault Emergency Management staff member John Preston, drives past a residence that sustained damage due to the breach on Tuesday evening, March 25.
Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

More than 100 dump trucks were used to haul in the armor rock, adding to the increased general council traffic, and annual clam-digging event during March 29 through 30. Despite issues with broken equipment and increased traffic, repairs were finalized on Sunday, March 30, costing $300,000 and resulting in the placement of 4,500 tons of rock.

Corps teams remained on site throughout the March 29 storm to monitor the seawall conditions. The temporary repairs remained intact during the storm and prevented flooding to 700 residents in the affected area, including Quinault Indian Nation’s Tribal Police Department, animal control, storage facility for canoes, public work shops, Headstart School, and a retail shop and restaurant.

“On hearing about Quinault’s breached seawall we were immediately concerned for our tribal brothers and sisters,” said Tulalip Chairman Mel Sheldon Jr., when Quinault Indian Nation announced a state of emergency. “This, along with the tragic events in Oso this past week, we’re reminded how vitally important it is to the tribes to have the best possible emergency management plans in effect.”

“We wish to acknowledge and thank the help of the Corps of Engineers as well as Grays Harbor Emergency Services, the elected officials and all others who have sent their prayers and offers of support. Our people will be kept safe and we will continue to seek a more long term solution to this dangerous situation,” said Fawn Sharp.

A permanent solution is being sought due to the encroachment of the North Pacific Ocean waters, which have become invasive over time due to sea level rise and violent storms.

 

Brandi N. Montreuil: 360-913-5402; bmontreuil@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov

 

Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tulalip Tribes establish first Native American aquatic resource program of its kind in the nation

Col. Bruce Estok, district commander and engineer of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Seattle District, joins Tulalip Tribal Chair Mel Sheldon Jr. and David Allnutt — director of the Office of Ecosystems, Tribal and Public Affairs for Region 10 of the Environmental Protection Agency — in signing the first Native American In-Lieu Fee Program in the nation for Quil Ceda Village on Nov. 26.— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

Col. Bruce Estok, district commander and engineer of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Seattle District, joins Tulalip Tribal Chair Mel Sheldon Jr. and David Allnutt — director of the Office of Ecosystems, Tribal and Public Affairs for Region 10 of the Environmental Protection Agency — in signing the first Native American In-Lieu Fee Program in the nation for Quil Ceda Village on Nov. 26.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

Kirk Boxleitner, Marysville Globe

TULALIP — Representatives of the Tulalip Tribes, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency sat down together on Tuesday, Nov. 26, to officially establish the first Native American In-Lieu Fee Program in the nation, for aquatic resource impacts and compensatory mitigation.

Tulalip Tribal Chair Mel Sheldon Jr. was joined by Col. Bruce Estok, district commander and engineer of the Army Corps of Engineers’ Seattle District, and David Allnutt — director of the Office of Ecosystems, Tribal and Public Affairs for Region 10 of the EPA — in signing an ILF Program Instrument for Quil Ceda Village, with the purpose of providing compensation for unavoidable impacts to wetlands and other aquatic resources, resulting from construction projects within the boundaries of Quil Ceda Village itself.

“This is a very significant event,” Estok said. “With the Tribes’ leadership, this will allow high-quality mitigation for their aquatic resources, to help them develop their environment.”

Sheldon credited Terry Williams, the Fisheries and Natural Resources Commissioner for the Tulalip Tribes, with seeing this program through since he started working with the Tribes.

“This represents the culmination of years of work,” Sheldon said. “This gives us the flexibility to pursue our other economic programs, and shows respect for the Tribes’ sovereignty.”

Sheldon went so far as to describe the Quil Ceda Village ILF Program as vital to the future of the Tulalip Tribes.

“Only by protecting and restoring our tribal watershed lands do we fulfill our obligations to future generations, to leave them a healthy, productive environment, while also allowing us to develop and manage our lands, to yield a stronger and even more diverse tribal economy,” Sheldon said. “Our In-Lieu Fee Program is the first by a federally recognized tribe, and we believe that our record on environmental restoration, protection and natural resource management has prepared us to implement and administer this smart and effective program, by providing high-quality mitigation within a watershed approach.”

The ILF Program will use a watershed approach to locate mitigation projects, and provide consolidated mitigation targeting specific priority habitat, water quality and hydrology functions, based on the critical needs of each sub-basin within the Quil Ceda Creek watershed.

“The Corps believes that effective ILF Programs are vital to helping it protect the aquatic environment, efficiently administer our regulatory program, and provide the regulated public with fair, timely and reasonable decisions,” said Gail Terzi, a mitigation specialist for the Army Corps of Engineers. “ILF Programs are very intentional in how they embrace a watershed approach and, as such, are optimal tools for addressing watershed needs.”

“The EPA commends the Tulalip Tribes for this proactive move to protect the Quil Ceda watershed,” Allnutt said. “Watersheds and aquatic resources are a valuable part of the broader ecosystem in this area, and this program will result in thoughtful decision-making to protect this tribal resource.”

“We may not realize how big this is now, but generations down the road will be thanking us,” Sheldon said.