Save the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge Update

Janet Marx, who is a member of Protect the Peninsula’s Future, working to save the Dungeness Wildlife Refuge, passed this along.

With the Army Corp of Engineers (ACE) approving a permit despite their Decision Document stating concerns about more than minimal damage to the Refuge, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) quickly signed a lease with Ron Allen of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe (JST) in January without public input. 

In December we sent DNR the ACE document that listed several ways the oyster operation would destabilize the refuge and harm the wildlife.  We then requested a meeting with Hilary Franz, Washington State Commissioner of Public Lands (DNR) to discuss ACE findings and why the lease should be rescinded based at least on the ACE concerns.  We received no response.  Follow up requests for a meeting were ignored by Hilary. We finally had two meetings with Alex Smith, Deputy Supervisor – Forest Resilience, Regulation and Aquatics, and other staff.  The outcome was a refusal by DNR to rescind the lease, knowing the bottom lands they are charged to protect will be damaged.

They remarked that DNR can enforce permits but cannot deny them.  Hence, violate first.

Remember back to the Clallam County Hearing Examiner’s (HE) mitigated approval in which he required the applicant have the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) or the local Audubon chapter oversee the project and train the applicant’s staff to identify and monitor Refuge birds.  If both declined, then the County would select an independent corporation to review a modified Jamestown Avian Monitoring Plan (AMP) as the original Plan was inadequate.  Both declined.  So the County hired an independent corporation, West Inc.  West reviewed the AMP and made light-weight suggestions instead of requirements.  West accepted weak statements rather than requiring detailed procedures and oversight.  The report primarily focused on seasonal bird counts but did not have a procedure for monitoring habitat changes that will affect the birds.

We have grown our coalition of Washington State environmental organizations who are also appalled with a commercial operation inside a national refuge.  Recently, nearly a dozen organizations sent a joint letter to DNR Commissioner Hilary Franz expressing their concerns that she approved the oyster shellfish operation knowing full well that this operation will damage the Refuge.  (See letter attachment above.) 

We are working with our partner organizations to find a way to save the Dungeness Refuge.  If you have not written to Commissioner Franz please do so. This is a good time for individual letters to join forces with the joint letter.

                                                Hilary Franz, Commissioner

                                                Office of the Commissioner of Public Lands


                                                Olympia, WA  98504


Hugh Morrison is the recently appointed interim USFWS Regional Director in the Portland OR office.  Please write him.  It was that office that pulled its earlier comments opposing the oyster project.  We need to keep the pressure on the service to re-engage and oppose.  They too were sent the ACE document spelling out the destruction to the Refuge.

                                                Hugh Morrison, Interim Regional Director

                                                Regional Director’s Office-R1

                                                911 NE 11th Avenue

                                                Portland, OR  97282-4181


This will take a village to save the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, but save it we will!

Protect the Peninsula’s Future — PO Box 421 — Sequim, WA 98382

3 Responses

  1. Thought you might want to share this with your readers — Van De Wege and Chapman asking the BNR to direct the DNR to chop down more trees.

  2. I am not leading this effort, Protect Peninsula’s Future is leading. Janet Marx

  3. the only way to stop this is a financial boycott of the Jamestown Sklallam tribe and their obviously selfcentered drive to capitalize everything up there

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