DNR signs historic easement agreement with Navy

This is huge. The key takeaway, “The practical effect of the agreement will be to preclude new, nearshore commercial or industrial construction along the areas of the Hood Canal and neighboring waterways where the Navy operates for the next 55 years.”

More analysis will be forthcoming.


July 7, 2014
Easements On State-Owned Aquatic Lands In Hood Canal To Buffer Navy Operations

OLYMPIA – Washington State Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark has signed a conservation easement with the United States Navy that will conserve and protect more than 4,800 acres of Hood Canal aquatic lands.

“This agreement will buffer important military operating areas in Hood Canal and ensure the long-term stability of the Navy’s presence at Naval Base Kitsap, which will sustain the jobs that depend on the Navy’s continued presence in the region,” said Commissioner Goldmark, the statewide elected official who administers the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR). “This agreement will also provide new protections for sensitive marine ecosystems and safeguard public access to Hood Canal.”

“The Navy is pleased to have reached an agreement to purchase a restrictive easement over DNR-owned bedlands in the Hood Canal because this transaction allows us to protect these ranges and military operating areas for the next 55 years,” said Naval Base Kitsap Commanding Officer Capt. Tom Zwolfer. “These ranges and military operating areas are crucial for military readiness and national defense. This transaction represents a substantial step toward readiness sustainment for the Navy.”

The easement will not permit new construction by the Navy, nor will it affect public access, privately owned lands, recreational uses, or aquaculture or geoduck harvest. The practical effect of the agreement will be to preclude new, nearshore commercial or industrial construction along the areas of the Hood Canal and neighboring waterways where the Navy operates for the next 55 years.

As steward of more than 2.6 million acres of state-owned aquatic lands, DNR ensures that the people of Washington benefit from the use of aquatic lands while also ensuring environmental protection of the state’s aquatic resources.
Environmental Leaders Praise Historic Agreement
Since 2012, DNR and the Navy have been engaged in a collaborative partnership with environmental non-profits including The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the Trust for Public Land (TPL) to conserve vital aquatic and upland habitat along Hood Canal. Though this specific easement is executed exclusively between the Navy and DNR, its completion is complementary to the many projects successfully completed in partnership with TNC and TPL.
“With this action, we are changing the future for Hood Canal,” said Mike Stevens, Washington state Director for TNC. “Commissioner Goldmark and the Navy have shown profound foresight and historic leadership by preventing destructive development across a huge swath of Puget Sound bedlands. Orcas, oysters, and people should all rejoice.”
“This is a win-win-win for Hood Canal’s natural resources, its traditional economy, and the Navy’s vital mission delivery,” said Paul Kundtz, Washington State Director of The Trust for Public Land. “We congratulate Commissioner Goldmark, the team at the Department of Natural Resources, and the US Navy on another significant success in our ongoing efforts to conserve the Hood Canal.”
“I’m sure I speak for all members of the Hood Canal Coalition when I say that we are delighted that Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark and the United States Navy have been able to conclude this historic agreement to protect Hood Canal,” said John Fabian, a retired Air Force Colonel and NASA astronaut who leads the 600-member Hood Canal Coalition.
Media Contact: Matthew Randazzo, Senior Advisor to the Commissioner of Public Lands, 360-902-1099, matthew.randazzo@dnr.wa.gov

2 Responses

  1. It would seem wise to ask why does the Navy wanted the easement. Most of the time when you go to bed with the Federal Government you don’t make out very well in the long run. Hanford?

    • While I agree that there always *could* be an ulterior motive, it appears that the motive is that the Navy expects to expand operations here, and wants to lock up, while it’s able to, the ability for commercial expansion of the North Hood Canal. This happens to play well with the needs of many people in the area, beyond the Pit To Pier project, as most people would gladly trade the current level of Navy operations for stopping not only P2P but any further large scale commercial ops. Whether that turns out to be a wise decision in the future, as the Navy continues to expand it’s airborne and sub training, might not be as beneficial as people would hope, but when faced with the options, they are willing to make the tradeoff.

      It’s hard to imagine a nuclear dump in the Navy’s plans, or a reactor site (beyond what is in the engine room of the subs). More likely the worry would be noise and blocking of recreational uses when the Navy needs it. But your thoughts are worth considering.

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