Cladoosby: Tribes will revisit pot after feds’ ruling

William Keeney talks about the variety of cannabis plants he is raising at his marijuana growing facility on Thursday, Dec. 6, in Sedro-Woolley. Keeney, who owns Dank Dynasty, began growing marijuana as a medical marijuana producer, but has since transferred his business over to a fully commerical operation. Brandy Shreve / Skagit Valley Herald
William Keeney talks about the variety of cannabis plants he is raising at his marijuana growing facility on Thursday, Dec. 6, in Sedro-Woolley. Keeney, who owns Dank Dynasty, began growing marijuana as a medical marijuana producer, but has since transferred his business over to a fully commerical operation. Brandy Shreve / Skagit Valley Herald


By Mark Stayton, Skagit Valley Herald


Newly licensed marijuana business owners could find themselves with some unexpected competition.

A new federal policy on pot has opened new business options for Native Americans, and the Swinomish are ready to take a look.

The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community will consider the possibilities at a meeting the first week of January, said Swinomish Chairman Brian Cladoosby, following a policy statement recently released by the U.S. Department of Justice.

“We haven’t had an intelligent discussion on it,” said Cladoosby. “It’s definitely something we’d like to look into.”

Meanwhile, marijuana business owners recently licensed under the state Initiative 502 wonder what the impacts will be if marijuana is grown or sold on tribal land, outside of the state-managed system that created a limited number of permits for different processing and retail operations.

Skagit County’s first recreational weed retail store opened in September after the owners were chosen in a lottery that included many months of wrangling for permits and approvals.

“I would think it would negatively impact my business,” said William Keeney, owner of Dank Dynasty, a small marijuana producer and processor in Sedro-Woolley that opened less than two months ago. “I would think that’s going to be hard to compete with.”

A memorandum from the Justice Department has opened the door for Native American tribes seeking to grow and sell marijuana on tribal lands, provided they follow federal guidelines adopted by states that have legalized it.

Priorities for U.S. attorneys listed in the memorandum centered on prevention of serious marijuana-related threats such as trafficking, the funding of gangs and cartels, drugged driving and violence.

The potential for revenue, as well as public health hazards, will need to be assessed by each tribe individually, said Cladoosby, who is also president of the National Congress of American Indians and president of the Association of Washington Tribes.

Cladoosby said the potential for millions if not billions of dollars in revenue might be possible for tribes in Washington alone. Swinomish tribal leaders will review the situation at an upcoming meeting and seek legal advice, he said.

“Even though the state had legalized (marijuana), it is still illegal in tribes. Now we will re-evaluate that to see if that’s something we want to reverse course on,” Cladoosby said.

However, the potential for substance abuse could be a dissuading factor for many tribes, Cladoosby said.

“Native Americans statistically have the highest rates of drug and alcohol abuse of any sector of society,” Cladoosby said. “It’s a tough call for tribal leaders because of that problem.”

The Justice Department will deal with tribes on a case-by-case basis, said Justice spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle.

“Some tribes are very concerned with public safety implications, such as the impact on youths, and the use of tribal lands for the cultivation or transport of marijuana, while others have explored decriminalization and other approaches,” Hornbuckle said in an email.

“Each U.S. Attorney will assess the threats and circumstances in his or her district and consult closely with tribal partners and the Justice Department when significant issues or enforcement decisions arise in this area.”

However, the memorandum states it does not alter U.S. authority or jurisdiction to enforce federal law where marijuana is illegal under the Controlled Substance Act.

The state Attorney General’s Office said Wednesday that it does not consider marijuana legal on tribal lands in Washington but offered no further comment.

The original memorandum, issued by Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole on Aug. 29, 2013, allowed marijuana businesses and the state regulatory system to move forward without fear of federal reprisal, said Brian Smith, spokesman for the state Liquor Control Board.

“It was an assurance for us that we were on the right track, and it brought a sigh of relief from people in the industry, that if they started a business, the government would not swoop in and seize all their assets,” Smith said.

“We didn’t know, when we were building our system, that the federal government was not going to stop this on a dime.”

The Aug. 29 memorandum notes that “jurisdictions must provide necessary resources and willingness to enforce their laws and regulations in a manner that does not undermine federal enforcement priorities.”

If tribes do start growing and selling marijuana, the structure of the industry would determine impacts to businesses licensed under I-502.

Keeney said he would likely go out of business if tribes could sell on Washington’s marketplace at lower prices.

“If the tribes are allowed to do commerce with the state, we’ll probably have to pack it in. I don’t think we could compete with that. The market will become flooded,” Keeney said.

Nate Loving, owner of the Loving Farms retail marijuana store in Mount Vernon, said he believes in tribes’ right to grow and process on their own land, but was unsure how retail sales would be addressed.

“I think it’s a good deal if they want to grow on their own land. Why shouldn’t they be able to do it?” Loving said. “Being that (the Liquor Control Board) already allotted licenses, I don’t know if they’ll add extra stores. They have a set number of licenses.”

Smith said much is still unknown as to how tribal marijuana business would be regulated and which agency would be responsible for it, or how it would integrate with the state’s recreational marijuana system.

He said the board will first need to convene and talk with its attorneys before taking any other action.

“What the memo seems to say is the Cole Memorandum applies to tribal lands the same way it applies to the state. There’s a lot of moving parts that are involved with that,” Smith said. “I don’t think anyone has any or all of those answers yet. I think people were surprised it was as wide open as it was.”

Brian Cladoosby Lays Out NCAI’s Priorities in Time for Lame Duck Session

Swinomish Tribal Chairman Brian Cladoosby
Swinomish Tribal Chairman Brian Cladoosby
Gale Courey Toensing, Indian Country Today


The National Congress of American Indians members passed more than five dozen new resolutions at its annual meeting recently, but one of the first things the organization will deal with during the lame duck session – the period of time between Election Day and when the new legislators enter Congress in the new year – is a three-year-old resolution opposing the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline.

“As Congress opens the lame duck one of the first issues will be the Keystone XL Pipeline,” Brian Cladoosby, NCAIpresident and chair of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, told ICTMN following NCAI’s 71st Annual Convention & Market held this year in Atlanta. “NCAI has a resolution opposing Keystone as tribes in that region are concerned about the potential impact to their aquifer.”

NCAI members’ resolutions set the organization’s policies and guide its advocacy until the issue is resolved or the resolution is withdrawn. In the case of the pipeline, NCAI members passed its resolutionin June 2011 opposing the $8 billion pipeline that would transport oil from tar sands in Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf of Mexico. The resolution cites the pipeline’s negative impacts on cultural and environmental resources and expresses solidarity with the First Nations in their struggle to protect their communities, aboriginal lands and treaty rights against the pipeline and other extraction industries’ devastation.

The Keystone issue flared up in 2012 but receded from the headlines until recently when House Republicans in their post-election victory mode suddenly brought it to the floor for a vote. On Friday, November 14, the House voted 252-161 to pass legislation that would force the $8 billion TransCanada pipeline project to move forward. The Senate rejected the bill  on Tuesday, November 18. Fifty-nine senators voted for the bill, one short of the 60 votes needed to clear a filibuster. Fourteen Democrats joined the Senate Republicans in voting for the bill. The vote was 59-41.

RELATED: Rosebud Sioux Tribe Calls House Keystone XL Passage an ‘Act of War,’ Vows Legal Action

So with its Keystone and other older policies in place and more than 60 new resolutions pointing the way, NCAI is ready to deal with the new post-election political landscape – even if it’s a little obscure at the moment.

“NCAI is fully committed to strong and effective action to advance tribal priorities. First, we will be navigating the lame duck session of Congress, and then next year will be a new environment in Congress particularly with the new leadership in the Senate,” Cladoosby said. “It is too early to predict exactly how next year will go, but we are already identifying opportunities.”

In addition to the Keystone pipeline issue, appropriations and spending will loom large during the lame duck session. Congress has not yet finalized a spending plan, Cladoosby said. “We are strongly urging adoption of House Interior Appropriations, as it has higher spending levels for both Indian Health and education,” he said.

In July the House Committee on Appropriations voted 29-19 to approve the fiscal year 2015 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill. The legislation includes funding for the Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA), the Forest Service, the Indian Health Service, and various independent and related agencies. In total, the bill includes $30.2 billion in base funding, an increase of copy62 million above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and a reduction of $409 million below the President’s request.

Indian country won a victory this year with the passage of the Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act of 2014, but here’s more work to be done in the area of tax reform. Tax extenders are up for renewal during the lame duck, Cladoosby noted. There are nearly 55 tax provisions, known as extenders, which expire at the end of this year, including important charitable giving incentives. Congress needs to renew the provisions in order for people, businesses and tribes to use them in filing taxes in 2015. “Tribes have some very important tax incentives for job development in Indian country that are up for renewal. That includes accelerated depreciation and the Indian employment tax credit,” Cladoosby said. “We really need to make these tax incentives permanent, and these discussions will be a springboard for tax reform discussions in the next year.” Cladoosby said NCAI will advocate for reforms to the tax code that will “respect tribal sovereignty and create jobs in tribal communities.

Energy legislation, trust reform and transportation reauthorization are also NCAI priorities. NCAI has been “strongly supporting” Sen. John Barrasso’s (R-WY) tribal energy bill – the Indian Tribal Energy Development and Self-Determination Acts Amendments of 2014(S. 2132). The bill will give Indian tribes more tools to develop their energy resources and to remove unnecessary barriers to economic development. The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, of which Barrasso is vice chairman, passed the bill unanimouslyin May.

NCAI will continue to prioritize legislation for the elusive “Carcieri fix” to restore the Interior Secretary’s authority to take land into trust, and will support voting rights initiatives, and the Department of the Interior Tribal Self Governance Act of 2014, Cladoosby said. It also backs reauthorization of The Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Actof 1996 (NAHASDA), which provides grants and financing guarantees to tribes for affordable housing. A couple key NCAI priorities, Cladoosby said – are a reportjust released from the Attorney General’s Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence “that will drive attention and I believe there will be a need for hearings,” proposed new regulations for the right of way on Indian lands, trust land in Alaska, and federal recognition.

And in the very near future, there is President Obama’s sixth White House Tribal Nations Conferenceto look forward to on December 3 at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C. The conference will provide leaders from the 566 federally recognized tribes the opportunity to interact directly with the president and members of the White House Council on Native American Affairs.

“I think tribes will be working up even more ideas for administrative action as we head into the summit with the president in the first week of December,” Cladoosby said.



EPA awards over $756,000 to research coastal climate change impacts on Swinomish Indian Tribal Community


Source: EPA


(Seattle—July 23, 2014) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today it is awarding over $756,000 to the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community to research coastal climate impacts to traditional foods, cultural sites and tribal community health and well-being.
The combination of sea level rise, wave impacts, and shoreline development will change coastal ecosystems that support Swinomish first foods and place-based relationships, which in turn impacts community health and well-being.

The funds will be used to:
· Develop a model showing projected coastal erosion due to sea-level rise, storm surge, and wave energy through Year 2100 on the shores of the Swinomish Reservation
· Map the vulnerability of Swinomish coastal ecosystem habitats of first foods and culturally significant sites
· Support the Swinomish Climate Change Initiative
· Create educational and outreach tools for Swinomish community members and Coast Salish communities
· Assess research results and develop adaptive strategies
EPA funds research focused on tribal communities through the Science to Achieve Results program. Because many tribes rely on natural resources, it is essential for tribal-focused research to identify possible environmental health risks and the most efficient methods of avoiding or addressing these risks.

More information about the grants awarded:

More information on Tribal Environmental Health Research:

Flathead Reservation in next phase of $1.9B land buy-back program


Elouise Cobell, right, looks on as Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Hayes testifies in December 2009 during a Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing in Washington, D.C. EVAN VUCCI/Associated Press
Elouise Cobell, right, looks on as Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Hayes testifies in December 2009 during a Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing in Washington, D.C.
EVAN VUCCI/Associated Press

HELENA – The Flathead Reservation is among 21 Indian reservations that will be the focus of the next phase of a $1.9 billion program to buy fractionated land parcels owned by multiple individuals and turn them over to tribal governments, Interior Department officials said Thursday.

Besides the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, other Montana participants are the Northern Cheyenne Tribe of the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation; Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation; Crow Tribe; and the Fort Belknap Indian Community of the Fort Belknap Reservation of Montana.

Government officials will work with tribal leaders to plan, map, conduct mineral evaluations, make appraisals and acquire land on the reservations from Washington state to Oklahoma in this phase, which is expected to last through 2015.

Other reservations could be added to the list, but the 21 named Thursday meet the criteria, particularly tribal readiness, said Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn.

“We knew it wouldn’t be successful unless tribal leaders were interested in the program,” Washburn said.

The land buyback program is part of a $3.4 billion settlement of a class-action lawsuit filed by Elouise Cobell of Browning, who died in 2011. The lawsuit claimed Interior Department officials mismanaged trust money held by the government for hundreds of thousands of Indian landowners.

The 1887 Dawes Act split tribal lands into individual allotments that were inherited by multiple heirs with each passing generation, resulting in some parcels across the nation being owned by dozens, hundreds or even thousands of individual Indians.

Often, that land sits without being developed or leased because approval is required from all the owners.

The land buyback program aims to consolidate as many parcels as possible by spending $1.9 billion by a 2022 deadline to purchase land from willing owners, then turn over that purchased land to the tribes to do as they see fit.

So far, the program has spent $61.2 million and restored 175,000 acres, said Interior Deputy Secretary Mike Connor. To buy even that much land, officials had to locate and contact owners in all 50 states and several countries to find out if they were willing to sell, Connor said.

The work primarily has been focused on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation until now.

Last month, tribal leaders from four reservations criticized the buyback program’s slow pace and complained they were being shut out of decisions over what land to buy. The leaders from tribes in Montana, Oklahoma, Oregon and Washington state spoke before a U.S. House panel.

Rep. Steve Daines, R-Montana, who called for the congressional hearing, said he welcomed Thursday’s announcement by the Interior Department.

“However, I am concerned their efforts here may not provide tribes with the necessary tools to ensure the Land Buy-Back program is properly implemented,” Daines said in a statement.

He said the Interior Department should use its authority to give tribes more flexibility, and it should move swiftly to address consolidation problems on other reservations not included in the announcement.

Washburn said Thursday that his agency has entered into or is negotiating cooperative agreements with many tribes in the buyback program, though others say they want the federal government to run the program.

21 reservations next up in consolidation program

These are the American Indian reservations the Department of Interior plans to focus on in the next phase of a $1.9 billion buyback program of fractionated land parcels to turn over to tribal governments. The program is part of a $3.4 billion settlement over mismanaged money held in trust by the U.S. government for individual Indian landowners.

– Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, Montana.

– Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe of the Cheyenne River Reservation, Wyoming.

– Coeur D’Alene Tribe of the Coeur D’Alene Reservation, Idaho.

– Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation, Montana.

– Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation, Oregon.

– Crow Tribe, Montana.

– Fort Belknap Indian Community of the Fort Belknap Reservation of Montana.

– Gila River Indian Community of the Gila River Indian Reservation, Arizona.

– Lummi Tribe of the Lummi Reservation, Washington.

– Makah Indian Tribe of the Makah Indian Reservation, Washington.

– Navajo Nation, Arizona.

– Northern Cheyenne Tribe of the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation, Montana.

– Oglala Sioux Tribe of the Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota.

– Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, Kansas.

– Quapaw Tribe of Indians, Oklahoma.

– Quinault Tribe of the Quinault Reservation, Washington.

– Rosebud Sioux Tribe of the Rosebud Indian Reservation, South Dakota.

– Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate of the Lake Traverse Reservation, North Dakota and South Dakota.

– Squaxin Island Tribe of the Squaxin Island Reservation, Washington.

– Standing Rock Sioux Tribe of North Dakota and South Dakota.

– Swinomish Indians of the Swinomish Reservation, Washington.

Swinomish Tribe measures changes to shellfish over decades on Kukutali Preserve


Northwest Indian Fisheries



Apr 29th, 2014

The never-realized plans to build a nuclear power plant on Kiket Island has a legacy that’s proven useful to the Swinomish Tribe.

The 1969 power plant proposal attracted researchers to study the island’s ecology. Among these was then-graduate student Jon Houghton, who established permanent transects around Kiket Island to study intertidal ecology and measure, among other things, clam density and biomass. In 2011, Swinomish shellfish biologist Julie Barber worked with the tribe’s water resources program to survey the same transects as Houghton to quantify ecological change over the past four decades.

Tiffany Hoyopatubbi, water resources specialist, uses a quadrat to sample shellfish species on the beach on Kukutali Preserve
Tiffany Hoyopatubbi, water resources specialist, uses a quadrat to sample shellfish species on the beach on Kukutali Preserve

In the decades since the power plant plans were scrapped, Kiket Island was privately owned. For at least the past two decades, tribal members were discouraged by upland owners from harvesting on the tribally owned tidelands. This long-term lack of harvest pressure now provides Swinomish with the unusual opportunity to study unharvested clam populations.

In 2010, the Swinomish Tribe and the state of Washington purchased the island and now jointly manage it as the Kukutali Preserve.

At the time of Houghton’s surveys, butter clams were the preferred shellfish harvested on Kiket Island. Since no one had been harvesting there for two decades, Barber was not surprised to learn that the number and size of butter clams has increased substantially since the 1970s.

The biomass of native littleneck clams, on the other hand, has declined significantly, and researchers don’t know why.

Comparing the data from Kiket Island with other nearby beaches shows that the littleneck clam decline appears to be a trend. The increase in butter clams is believed to be a trend on these other beaches as well, but Barber doesn’t have enough data yet to know for sure.

Barber is working with other tribes and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to compare data throughout the region. Her eventual goal is to create a Puget Sound map that shows the temporal change in bivalve biomass by bivalve management region.

“That would help us at least map out where these changes are occurring,” she said. “You can’t easily find out why this is happening until you know where these changes are happening.”

Swinomish staff who assisted in the surveys included Todd Mitchell, Tiffany Hoyopatubbi, Tanisha Gobert, Courtney Greiner and Jennifer Ratfield.

For more information, contact: Julie Barber, shellfish biologist, Swinomish Tribe, 360-466-7315 or; Kari Neumeyer, information officer, NWIFC, 360-424-8226 or

Cladoosby Enters National Congress of American Indians President Race


Richard WalkerSwinomish Chairman Brian Cladoosby holds a paddle gifted to him by the Quileute Nation, July 29, 2011, during the Canoe Journey/Paddle to Swinomish. Cladoosby is a candidate for president of the National Congress of American Indians.
Richard Walker
Swinomish Chairman Brian Cladoosby holds a paddle gifted to him by the Quileute Nation, July 29, 2011, during the Canoe Journey/Paddle to Swinomish. Cladoosby is a candidate for president of the National Congress of American Indians.

Richard Walker

June 26, 2013 ICTMN


Swinomish Chairman Brian Cladoosby, who has long worked to strengthen economic conditions and stop ecological degradation in Coast Salish country, announced his candidacy June 25 for president of the National Congress of American Indians.

The election will take place during NCAI’s 70th annual convention October 13-18 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

If elected, Cladoosby would continue to serve as chairman of the Swinomish Tribe, he said in a pre-announcement interview. He would be the fourth indigenous leader from Washington state to serve as NCAI president.

“After 29 years of service on the Swinomish Indian Senate and 17 years of the best job in the world, the chairman of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, I feel called by our Creator to serve Indian people across our country,” he wrote on a Facebook page established for his campaign.

“I believe that we live in historic times. When my grandfather’s grandfather signed the Point Elliott Treaty [in 1855], he probably could not have imagined the world that we live in today, but he thought about my grandchildren, Bella and Nathaniel. They are the seventh generation since our treaty was signed. Today, we are called to think about the seven generations to come and the world we will leave for them.”

Cladoosby said indigenous nations “have been blessed by our Creator with tremendous gifts” with which to confront the challenges of the day: Tribal governments’ ability to tax activities within reservation borders, ensuring there are educational opportunities for young people and quality health services for families and elders, protection of natural resources, and responding appropriately to climate change.

“Our teachings, our spiritual ways, the wisdom of our elders, the inspiration of our children and strong tribal leaders from across Indian country lift us up and give us strength to meet these challenges every day,” he said.

Cladoosby said he announced his candidacy only after getting the support of his wife, Nina, and the Swinomish Senate.

“I know that without them and their support, I could not begin to think about serving as president of NCAI. In the coming months, I ask for your support, your prayers and your ideas. Together, we can build the tomorrow that the grandchildren of our grandchildren can be proud of.”

Cladoosby served as president of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians in 2008-11, and served on NCAI’s board of directors and on Environmental Protection Agency’s National Tribal Operations Committee. He is also active on the Skagit Council of Governments, an organization of local governments in Skagit County, Washington.

After the November general election, incoming state Attorney General Bob Ferguson appointed Cladoosby to his transition committee, which reviewed the structure of the Attorney General’s Office, its budget, and goals for the upcoming legislative session.

On December 5, Cladoosby introduced President Barack Obama at the White House Tribal Nations Conference, calling Obama – an adopted member of the Crow Nation – our “first American Indian president.” (Related story: Obama Does It Again: 2012 White House Tribal Nations Conference)

As Swinomish chairman, Cladoosby has overseen a careful strategy of economic growth that has resulted in the tribe becoming one of the five largest employers in Skagit County.

The tribe owns the golf- and entertainment-oriented Swinomish Casino and Lodge overlooking Padilla Bay, two gas stations and convenience stores, a cannery that processes salmon and shellfish for a global market, and a Ramada Hotel in Ocean Shores on the Washington coast. Swinomish’s Chevron Gas Station is, according to the tribe, the largest-volume Chevron station on the West Coast.

According to the tribe’s website, Swinomish employs more than 250 people in tribal government and approximately 300 people in its economic enterprises.

Swinomish is also an important voice on environmental issues: recent local initiatives include restoring indigenous ownership and stewardship of Kiket Island, and restoring the shoreline and developing a park and native-plant garden on Swinomish Channel.

In 2008, Cladoosby helped organize the Canoe Journey Water Quality Project in collaboration with other Coast Salish nations and the U.S. Geological Survey. Canoes participating in the annual Canoe Journey carry probes and global positioning systems that record temperature, salinity, pH levels, dissolved oxygen and turbidity in the Salish Sea. The data is being processed and mapped so researchers can identify patterns and trends in sea conditions. These efforts were honored in 2009 by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior; in 2012, Cladoosby was one of five finalists for the Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award. (Related story: Canoe Journey Could Provide Picture of Inland Sea’s Health)

“Mr. Cladoosby has been a huge supporter for our Northwest tribes and I hope we support someone who actually sees what we are needing as tribes in the Northwest and Alaska,” a supporter wrote on Facebook, calling Cladoosby “One of the Great Native Leaders out there fighting our good fight!”

Chickasaw Nation Lt. Gov. Jefferson Keel is finishing his second as president. According to its constitution, NCAI’s purpose is to “serve as a forum for unified policy development among tribal governments in order to: (1) protect and advance tribal governance and treaty rights; (2) promote the economic development and health and welfare in Indian and Alaska Native communities; and (3) educate the public toward a better understanding of Indian and Alaska Native tribes.”

NCAI has a staff of 33.

New Publication Tells Western Fisheries Research Center’s History of Innovation

Source: Paul C. Laustsen, U.S. Geological Survey Office of Communications

SEATTLE — The U.S. Geological Survey’s Western Fisheries Research Center(WFRC), headquartered in Seattle, has led cutting-edge research on fish and aquatic environments for nearly 80 years – first in the Pacific Northwest, then nationwide and throughout the world. WFRC’s history of research and innovation is captured in a new publication, “Seventy-Five Years of Science: The Story of the Western Fisheries Research Center 1935-2010,” by WFRC emeritus scientist Gary A. Wedemeyer.

The WFRC began in the Great Depression as an effort to understand and control the fish diseases that limited the success of hatcheries founded to mitigate the Grand Coulee Dam’s destruction of salmon runs in the Columbia River basin. As environmental issues grew more complex and the effects of terrestrial ecology on marine ecology became better understood, the WFRC expanded with a multidisciplinary approach that now draws on the expertise of ecologists, microbiologists, and geneticists as well as fisheries biologists and other scientists. Its six laboratories – in Seattle; on Marrowstone Island and in the Columbia River Gorge, Wash., in Klamath Falls and Newport, Ore., and in Reno, Nev. – provide the technical information that natural resource managers need to ensure the continued survival of fish and fish populations in the western United States. Because food webs, aquatic communities, and ecosystems know no borders, WFRC research is relevant worldwide.

“The WFRC has a proud tradition of solving problems that negatively impact aquatic ecosystems,” said WFRC Center Director Jill Rolland. “Working here is both an honor and a responsibility that our employees take seriously.”

But it all started in 1935, when the appropriately named biologist Frederic F. Fish was tapped by the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries to found a dedicated lab in the basement of their Seattle laboratory – a “hospital for fish,” as an article in a 1939 issue of Newsweek dubbed the novel project. Important discoveries emerged from Fish’s lab from the start.

“These discoveries became the basis for the hatchery operations needed to ensure the continued survival of economically important fish and fish populations both in the United States and abroad,” Wedemeyer said.

WFRC research toward recovery plans for endangered species has led to the successful establishment of self-sustaining fish populations in U.S. desert aquatic ecosystems. Other projects have proven critical to the continued survival of Pacific salmon and sturgeon populations throughout the U.S. portion of the Columbia River basin in five Western states. The Center was part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service until 1996, when it came under the aegis of the USGS.

WFRC’s history of innovation continues. Since 2008, the Coast Salish Nation and Swinomish Indian Tribal Community have partnered with WFRC on the Coast Salish Tribal Water Quality Project, which blends science and Coast Salish cultural practices to study water quality and its effects on an ecosystemthat supports orcas, salmon and other culturally important species. WFRC scientists are studying fish populations and ecosystems within the Elwha River Restoration Project, the largest dam removal project in U.S. history. Others are developing acoustic imaging techniques to safely monitor the endangered Delta smelt, whose status is an ecological bellwether for a region critical to California’s economy. Still others are developing strategies to fight the ecological and economic damage wrought by invasive aquatic species introduced into U.S. waters in the ballast tanks of ocean-going ships. WFRC is an International Reference Laboratory for the World Organization of Animal Health in Paris, and its scientists assist more than 170 WOAH member countries to establish effective fish disease control programs.

The publication “Seventy-Five Years of Science: The Story of the Western Fisheries Research Center 1935-2010” is available online. Video of Wedemeyer talking about WFRC is available here.


Swinomish Tribe should drop suit

Editorial In Whidbey News-times

April 12, 2013 · Updated 3:54 PM 

The Swinomish Indian Tribe is seeking $9 million from City of Oak Harbor after construction unearthed a burial ground on Pioneer Way in 2011.

Since the discovery of the remains, the city has worked diligently with the tribe to ensure the remains are handled appropriately and reburied.

Filed now to beat the impending statute of limitations deadline, the Swinomish Tribe lawsuit is apparent backtracking on earlier promises to not sue if the city jumped through all of its hoops.

Estimated cost to the city so far to rectify the matter is about $4 million.

Oak Harbor Mayor Scott Dudley said this week he was “perplexed” and “disheartened” to learn of the tribe’s intent to sue the city.

Dudley said tribal Chairman Brian Cladoosby assured him the city wouldn’t be sued if they handled the situation appropriately.

“We were operating under the understanding that we would complete the recovery work and the reburial and that would be sufficient,” Dudley said.

Cladoosby declined to comment to that assertion because the impending litigation.

If Cladoosby indeed made that promise to the city, it should be honored.

In its suit, the tribe wants an additional $9 million for economic losses and “severe stress, anguish and spiritual and emotional distress.”

City staff were warned prior to the 2011 construction project about the “close proximity” of the archaeological site. It was “strongly recommended” that the city “retain the services of a professional archaeologist to monitor and report on ground disturbing activity … and help develop and implement a plan for cultural materials.”

City officials conceded employees overlooked the warning and acknowledged the city messed up. Since then, Oak Harbor has worked in good faith to rectify the situation.

The city has already forked out $4 million to fix its mistake.

Cost to properly rebury the remains could cost as much as an additional $2 million.

Of that initial $4 million, more than $600,000 was already paid to the tribe for work performed by spiritual leaders, monitors and handlers at the archaeological site.

The city is living up to its promise, the tribe should do the same and drop its lawsuit.