Quinault Tribe explores “moving” town of Taholah

 

by JOHN LANGELER / KING 5 News

 

TAHOLAH — About two months ago, Marco Black heard the Pacific Ocean knocking at his back door.

“I was in the house at the time,” recalled Black, “The whole house shook.”

The Taholah native was experiencing a severe storm at his waterfront home.  One wave broke the seawall separating the town from the ocean, forcing the barrier to collapse and knocking his smokehouse off its foundation.

More urgent than Black’s smokehouse are all the homes within Taholah.  The town sits in a tsunami zone, and parts of the main community flood three-to-four times a year.

Since the storm, the Army Corps of Engineers has repaired the 36-year-old wall, but called it “a band-aid”, and not a permanent solution.

In search of something long-term, the tribe is pushing for a new tactic, one that has been talked about for decades but may finally happen.

Moving the town to higher ground.

“I think it’s a foregone conclusion,” explained tribal secretary Larry Ralston, “Taholah’s moving up the hill.”

Ralston said land has already been chosen for a new town, and a three-year study to find ways to make the move happen is currently underway.

The main issue is tsunami danger, but the rising tide of the Pacific Ocean is also a major concern.

“It’s not going to be easy,” continued Ralston, “There’s going to be some people that will hold out.  They’ll refuse to leave.”

The main part of Taholah includes around 1,700 residents, the school, police and fire departments, the mercantile, the post office and a retirement home.

It’s also the location of many of the most important pieces of the Quinault Tribe’s ancestry.

“All that will go away,” said Ralston, “It’ll be just a memory.”

Black, whose family has lived near the ocean for decades, admits he’ll lose his land to the ocean one day.  It’s a realization made reluctantly, but with the knowledge there are few other choices.

“It’s kind of my home land,” he said, “We’ve lived here all our life.  If we have to do it, I guess we’ll have to do it.”

It is unclear how much it will cost to move Taholah.  Action by the tribe and federal agencies could be years away, Ralston said.

Residents Voice Fear And Concern Over Grays Harbor Oil Terminals

 

By Ashley Ahearn, KOUW

HOQUIAM, Wash. — More than 100 people gathered at the local high school Thursday night with questions and concerns about proposals to build train-to-ship oil terminals in their community.

The projects proposed for Grays Harbor are part of a regional increase in oil train traffic from North Dakota to the Pacific Northwest. And although the Bakken oil fields are more than 1,000 miles away, the boom is raising a lot of concern in this small city on Washington’s coast.

The Westway and Imperium terminals would be serviced by roughly two trains per day, each one a mile long. Their payloads of crude oil would bring more than 300 ships and barges to Grays Harbor each year year.

The third and newest project, proposed by US Development, could draw three or four trains per week and up to 60 vessels per year, each 1,000 feet long. If all three terminals are built, Grays Harbor would have storage capacity for almost 3 million barrels of oil.

“Any oil that spilled within Grays Harbor or in transit will end up on our shorelines and it will directly impact the crab fishery,” said Larry Thevik, vice president of the Washington Dungeness Crab Fisherman’s Association, which opposes the projects. Thevik has been crabbing these waters for more than 40 years.

The crowd at Hoquiam High School quieted as the Washington Department of Ecology called people one by one to weigh in on what should be considered in the environmental review of the proposed oil terminals.

Fawn Sharp, president of the Quinault Tribe, was one of the first to step up to the microphone. Her tribe’s reservation is about 35 miles north of Hoquiam.

“Quinault opposes oil in Grays Harbor and is in this fight to win,” she told the officials. “Our fishing hunting and gathering rights are clearly jeopardized by immediate and cumulative impacts of these proposed developments.”

The crowd was dominated by opponents. No one spoke out in favor of the oil terminals during the first portion of the meeting.

Some in the audience voiced fears about the potential for Bakken oil to explode, as it did when a train derailed in Quebec last summer, killing 47 people.

Other residents called on the Washington Department of Ecology to study how the potential uptick in train and ship traffic could impact noise, human health and pollution – as well as local traffic and fire and spill response.

Three of Washington’s five oil refineries are now receiving oil by rail, with 2 more oil-by-rail expansion projects recently proposed. The trains servicing the refineries travel along the Columbia River and then north through Seattle and along Puget Sound.

Oil also travels to the refinery in Clatskanie, Ore. A larger oil terminal is proposed for nearby Vancouver, Wash., which could draw up to four more trains per day, along the Columbia River.

What’s Next

The public has until May 27 to submit comments on the two proposed facilities. A second public meeting is scheduled for next Tuesday from 5 to 9 p.m. at Centralia High School in Centralia, Wash.

Quinault Nation Pushes for Blueback Support

Two engineered logjams with fishermen in boat. The restoration plan for the Upper Quinault River is needed to protect and restore the famed Blueback Salmon population. Will the state do its part? The Quinault Tribal plan for the Upper Quinault River on the Olympic Peninsula applies engineered logjams and floodplain forest restoration methods modeled after natural floodplain forest developmental patterns and river channel habitat forming processes found in river valleys of the west side of the Olympic Mountains. Among other things, the logjams are designed to mimic old growth trees to create and protect river floodplain and side channel salmon habitat and foster the development of mature, self-sustaining conifer floodplain forests.

Two engineered logjams with fishermen in boat. The restoration plan for the Upper Quinault River is needed to protect and restore the famed Blueback Salmon population. Will the state do its part? The Quinault Tribal plan for the Upper Quinault River on the Olympic Peninsula applies engineered logjams and floodplain forest restoration methods modeled after natural floodplain forest developmental patterns and river channel habitat forming processes found in river valleys of the west side of the Olympic Mountains. Among other things, the logjams are designed to mimic old growth trees to create and protect river floodplain and side channel salmon habitat and foster the development of mature, self-sustaining conifer floodplain forests.

TAHOLAH, WA (6/3/13)–Work being done on the Upper Quinault River is a powerful example of environmental stewardship benefiting the economy, and the state legislature needs to step up to support it, says Fawn Sharp, President of the Quinault Indian Nation. “There is interconnection between a healthy environment and a sustainable economy wherever you go, but on the Upper Quinault everything is lined up to truly make a difference,” she said.

In an email letter addressed to Governor Inslee and to all legislators today, Sharp reminded the state’s lawmakers to support a budget proviso for $2.8 million in the Senate Capital Budget which would support ongoing work on the Upper Quinault, and the Tribe has made one of its top priorities (Department of Natural Resources budget, PSSB 5035, New Section 3235).

“This proposal is important to the coastal region in many respects. The investment will be highly job intensive in a region in desperate need of employment opportunities—and those jobs will be sustainable and environmentally friendly,” said Sharp.  One of the primary objectives of the effort is to restore habitat which is key to the survival and restoration of the famed Blueback Salmon population. To date, since the year 2000, the Quinault Tribe has invested more than $5 million in Blueback restoration which includes the upper Quinault River work, lake fertilization, monitoring and supplementation.  The current federal ask is more than $5 million. Of the state request, $2.5 million would be used to install engineered logjams over a five mile stretch of the river and $300,000 would be used for the Lower Queets/Clearwater and Quinault Riparian Forest restoration and enhancement (improvement of riparian forest habitat through invasive species control, instream habitat enhancement, off channel habitat enhancement, and replanting native trees to aid forest regeneration).

“The work being done on this project is highly professional and well engineered. It is the result of government-to-government and tribal and non-tribal coordination. That is another great thing about this effort. We are demonstrating, once again, that things get done when we work together. Everybody stands to benefit and everyone is involved,” said Sharp.

“We have made this request of the legislature several times this session. It is a very reasonable request which will benefit the state and its citizens, economically and environmentally, many times over. Everyone has stepped up to the plate. We’re simply encouraging the state to do the same. Given the unstable nature of the state budget process, we want to impress the importance of this project on the Governor and legislators. This is one they cannot leave behind,” she said.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation published a report, paid for by the Quinault Tribe, in 2005, stating that “the upper Quinault River and its salmon habitats will not heal on their own. Restorative intervention is required.” In response to that conclusion, the great importance of the Blueback Salmon to the Tribe’s culture, heritage and economy, and the inherent risks to continued viability of that species, Quinault produced and published the Salmon Habitat Restoration Plan – Upper Quinault River. The plan is a comprehensive, science-based approach to restore the river, including its floodplains, floodplain forests, and salmon habitat. The plan, which the Tribe and others in the area are following, applies engineered logjams and floodplain forest restoration methods modeled after natural floodplain forest developmental patterns and river channel habitat forming processes found in river valleys of the west side of the Olympic Mountains. Among other things, the logjams are designed to mimic old growth trees to create and protect river floodplain and side channel salmon habitat and foster the development of mature, self-sustaining conifer floodplain forests.

The project areas proposed for use of the funding include approximately 3.6 miles of mainstem river channel and 520 acres of existing floodplain. The project, if funded and constructed in its entirety will yield approximately 7.7 miles of protected and/or restored mainstem river and side channel salmon habitat, approximately 860 acres of new floodplain, and reestablish approximately 537 acres of mixed conifer-deciduous floodplain forest.

“So much is at stake here. Dozens of jobs. Economic stability. Generations of critically important Blueback runs. We truly hope the Governor and legislators are listening,” said Sharp.

 

 

Salish Sea Native American Culture Celebration

 

OLYMPIA – May 13, 2013 – The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission invites the public to attend the Eighth Annual Salish Sea Native American Culture Celebration with the Samish and Swinomish tribes.

The celebration runs from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 8, at the Bowman Bay picnic area on the Fidalgo Island side of Deception Pass State Park, 41020 State Route 20, Oak Harbor. The event celebrates the maritime heritage of the two participating Coast Salish tribes. This year’s event also commemorates the 100th birthday of the Washington state park system, which was created by the Legislature in 1913.

The June 8 event will feature canoe rides and native singers, drummers and storytellers. Artists from the two tribes will demonstrate traditional weaving, cedar work and woodcarving. A salmon and frybread lunch also will be available for purchase. The Discover Pass is not required to attend the event. In recognition of National Get Outdoors Day, Saturday, June 8 is a State Parks “free day,” when visitors to state parks are not required to display a Discover Pass.

Cultural event activities are presented by the Samish Indian Nation, the Samish Canoe Family, the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community and the Swinomish Canoe Family. Proceeds from food sales at the Salish Sea Native American Culture Celebration support the Samish and Swinomish canoe families’ participation in the annual intertribal canoe journey; each year, tribes and nations from the Pacific Northwest travel by canoe to different host communities along the Salish Sea. This year, the Quinault Tribe plays host to the intertribal canoe journey, which lands in Taholah on August 1. For more information about this year’s canoe journey, visit www.paddletoquinault.org.

The event is accessible to persons with disabilities. If special accommodations are required in order to attend the event, please call (360) 902-8626 or (360) 675-3767 or the Washington Telecommunications Relay Service at (800) 833-6388. Requests must be made in advance.

The Salish Sea Native American Culture Celebration is part of a broader series of events celebrating Washington’s diverse cultures and presented by the Folk and Traditional Arts in the Parks Program. The program is a partnership between the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, the Washington State Arts Commission and Northwest Heritage Resources with funding provided by National Endowment for the Arts and the Washington State Parks Foundation.

Deception Pass State Park is a 4,134-acre marine and camping park with 77,000 feet of saltwater of shoreline, and 33,900 feet of freshwater shoreline on three lakes. The park is best known for views of Deception Pass and Bowman Bay, old-growth forests, abundant wildlife and the historic Deception Pass Bridge.

Stay connected to your state parks by following Washington State Parks at www.facebook.com/WashingtonStateParks, www.twitter.com/WaStatePks_NEWS and www.youtube.com/WashingtonStateParks. Share your favorite state park adventure on the new State Parks’ blog site at www.AdventureAwaits.com.

 

Quinault Nation Restricts Lake Use Due to Habitat Degradation

By Richard Walker, Indian Country Today Media Network

Quinault Lake has been a place of nurture since glaciers carved the lake and river valley in their retreat some 15,000 years ago.

But these thousands of years of pristine tranquility have come undone. The Quinault Tribe has closed the lake to non-tribal fishing until further notice, concerned about pollution and low salmon return numbers.

The Quinault people have always found physical and spiritual sustenance in the majestic landscape and wealth of resources in the Quinault Lake area. The sockeye salmon, too, consider Quinault Lake to be a place of nurture; sockeye returning from their ocean odyssey spend three to 10 months in Quinault Lake prior to moving on to spawn in the Upper Quinault River. While in the lake, bluebacks subsist on their fat reserves.

“Culturally, this salmon run links Quinault people to their rich heritage as nothing else does,” according to Quinault Nation fisheries biologists, who documented salmon significance to the tribe in 1990. “The salmon was always the very lifeblood of Quinault society, and the blueback was the most sacred of the various fish runs.”

But in the years since the first non-Native residents arrived in the 1880s, this sacred lake has been troubled. Early residents described the Upper Quinault River as a large stream that flowed between two narrow, heavily wooded banks. But logging in the ensuing years has widened the river valley, and the stream now meanders erratically. Moreover, storm runoff has led to prolonged periods of lake turbidity.

Leachate from septic systems serving waterfront homes is believed to be the cause of degraded water quality. Bulkheads and docks have been built without permits, altering the shoreline habitat for salmon and other fish.

“We’re not willing to let our lake die,” Quinault Nation Treasurer Lawrence Ralston said.

The Quinault Indian Nation, which has jurisdiction over the lake, has closed it to all non-tribal fishing because of water quality and low sockeye salmon returns. This is in effect until further notice, Quinault Nation President Fawn Sharp said on April 16, adding that the decision had been unanimous.

“This action has been taken to protect the lake and is an emergency measure to protect the health and safety of all our communities,” Sharp said. “We are very concerned about water quality in the lake. We are concerned that non-tribal septic systems from the surrounding homes and businesses may have resulted in a severe problem with untreated sewage and caused serious health concerns.”

During the closure, the tribe will study the water quality and see if it complies with tribal regulations, Sharp said. Already, she said, the tribe has found “hot spots of pollution” and will need to monitor any fish taken by tribal members during the closure.

“We will not reopen the lake to non-Indian fishermen until we consider it safe and appropriate to do so,” Sharp said.

In addition the Nation has documented new, unpermitted docks and bulkheads on the lake’s north shore. Other illegal activities, including fish poaching and boats speeding on the lake, have also been documented, Sharp said.

“The Nation’s intention is to work closely with landowners on the lake to address these concerns,” Sharp said. “The goal is to [ensure] that any permitted structures on the lake are ‘fish friendly’ and will not contribute to degradation of habitat.”

Quinault Nation officials will also meet with the Grays Harbor Board of County Commissioners to request county inspection of septic systems along the north shore. The tribal officials want to determine whether corrective measures are needed to prevent the fouling of lake waters, particularly during storms. While Quinault has jurisdiction over the lake, Grays Harbor County has jurisdiction over non-Native residents and private homes.

The Lake Quinault Lodge, which is owned by the National Park Service, and the local homeowners association newsletter acknowledge that the lake is within the reservation and thus falls under the jurisdiction of the Quinault Indian Nation. But that authority and jurisdiction are apparently not always understood—let alone acknowledged and respected—by non-Native residents.

“The Nation must remind residents that use of the lake is a privilege and not a right,” the Quinault Nation said in its statement announcing the closure.

“When we choose to lease our lands to proprietors, or to allow non-Tribal members to share our resources, we do so with the expectation that they will abide by Quinault law, practice good stewardship and treat this beautiful lake with the respect it deserves,” Sharp added.

Closure of the lake to non-tribal fishing is the latest of many attempts to restore the body of water’s health as well as its salmon population. According to the National Marine Fisheries Service, the number of returning bluebacks dropped from as many as 500,000 in the early 1900s to about 39,000 in the 1990s. Since 2000, the Quinault Nation has invested more than $5 million in blueback habitat restoration, including restoration on the Upper Quinault River, and monitoring.

Quinault officials have requested $5.7 million from Congress for continued blueback restoration work, and the Washington State Senate is budgeting $2.8 million for restoration work on the Upper Quinault River. The federal money will help fund the building of up to 140 engineered logjams and 537 acres of forest restoration planting. The state funding will help pay for the installation of 14 logjams.

“It is our responsibility to manage this unique resource as part of our heritage, in a way that will benefit our people—today and in the future,” Sharp said. “We are working very hard to protect, preserve and restore this region, including the Upper Quinault and Lake Quinault, in a way that is true to our heritage and that will benefit the entire area.”

Quinault is also researching how low-oxygen events may be affecting Dungeness crab populations off the tribe’s ocean shores. Crab fishermen would use special instruments that measure dissolved oxygen from inside crab pots.

“Right now, all we know is that dead fish and crab have washed up on our shores in varying degrees in the summer for the past few years,” Quinault Nation marine scientist Joe Schumacker told the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission. “We have no idea how far the low oxygen zones extend or how long they last. We see a result and we need to define the problem.”

The die-off could be unprecedented: There is no oral history among Quinault people for consecutive seasons of this sort of die-off, according to the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission.

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/04/24/quinault-nation-restricts-lake-use-due-habitat-degradation-148997