Pope Resources, Port Gamble S’Klallam negotiating conservation easement – North Kitsap Herald

More good news and work towards a restoration of our waters.

The Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe is in line to receive a $1.5 million grant from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Estuary and Salmon Restoration Program, or ESRP. According to Fish and Wildlife, the Tribe would use the grant and other funds “to protect the mill site from future development with a conservation easement … for the purpose of restoration, returning the site to a more natural state for future generations.” The site is across Port Gamble Bay from Point Julia and the Port Gamble S’Klallam reservation, where the S’Klallam people relocated after the mill was established in 1853. The Tribe and Pope Resources are working together “to develop a vision for the future of the site that includes restoration, a park setting and recognition of Tribal history,” according to Fish and Wildlife. Richard Walker reports. (North Kitsap Herald)

http://www.northkitsapherald.com/news/366496231.html

Indian Treaties are the new front in the battle against coal exports – The Ecologist

What it means to “Honor the Treaties”.

The 1865 Treaty of Point Elliot is clear… the Lummi Nation has the right to fish, hunt and gather in their accustomed places in perpetuity – and they can’t do that if a gigantic coal terminal is built in the Salish Sea’s most productive waters. First Nations’ treaty rights are now central to protecting the Pacific Northwest from destruction by fossil fuels. Jan Hasselman writes. (The Ecologist)

http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2950221/indian_treaties_are_the_new_front_in_the_battle_against_coal_exports.html

Washingtonians Could Safely Eat More Fish Under New Water Pollution Rules – Earthfix

Another good step by Governor Jay Inslee. This decision has been a tough problem that he has had to balance against industry, like Boeing. This is positive. Now the work and money has to be put forward to actually implement the rain gardens and permeable pavement that he wants to see put in place to help.

Washington’s pollution standards would be made much tougher — making water clean enough that people can safely eat a daily serving of fish — under a plan laid out by Gov. Jay Inslee. The governor announced Wednesday that he wants Washington to use the same fish-consumption standards that guide water pollution rules in Oregon….

 

 http://earthfix.kcts9.org/water/article/washingtonians-could-safely-eat-more-fish-under-ne/

Washington Supreme Court Rules For Tribe In Skagit Case – Earthfix

This decision has huge ramifications. The Tribes have always said that they have the right to go after upstream water regulations within the watersheds if the State didn’t appropriately protect the salmon stream flows, and now the Supreme Court has agreed with them.

A Western Washington tribe Thursday won a legal victory that will ensure more water stays in the Skagit River to help salmon and steelhead. The decision could affect 6,000 landowners who were allocated water under rules that have now been struck down. That figure includes more than 600 residents with homes that have already been built. The Washington state Supreme Court ruled that the Department of Ecology overstepped its authority in allocating water from the Skagit River for new development.

This has to do with the Washington Instream Rule and whether the State has been doing the correct job in balancing water use for development and water use for fish.  The virtually unregulated use of water for any and all comers is a throwback to the 1800s, and it is widely understood now that rivers can have too much water taken out of them, and the local aquifers  which often recharge them.

This will be coming to a county near you here on the Peninsula soon, due to this decision. The good news is that the counties here and the Tribes have been working very cooperatively to work this out. There are still some locations to be worked out, but this should help clarify those discussions.

http://earthfix.opb.org/water/article/court-rules-in-favor-of-keeping-water-in-skagit-ri/

 

And this:

Ecology director committed to finding water supply solutions in the Skagit Basin after state Supreme Court ruling

OLYMPIA – Washington Department of Ecology Director Maia Bellon today renewed her commitment to ensuring adequate water supplies for home owners and stream flows in the Skagit Basin after Ecology’s 2006 water management rule for the Skagit Basin was invalidated.

The Washington state Supreme Court ruled 6-3 today that Ecology in 2006 exceeded its authority in setting aside water reservations for new uses in the Skagit. The 2006 rule amended a 2001 water management rule that protected stream flows basin-wide.

A reservation is a specific amount of water set aside for specific uses in watersheds closed to new groundwater wells. In the case of the Skagit, these reservations have provided a source of water for homes, agriculture, livestock and businesses since 2001. The court today ruled in Swinomish Indian Tribal Community v. Department of Ecology that Ecology cannot set aside reservations of water through adoption of water management rules where water was previously set aside to support stream flows for fish. Without water reservations, later water uses can be interrupted when dry spells impact the protected stream flows. Ecology found in 2006 that limited reservations would not substantially harm fish populations. The Swinomish Tribe challenged the establishment of the reservations in 2008 and appealed a Thurston County Superior Court finding in Ecology’s favor in 2010.

“I am disappointed in today’s ruling but no less committed to finding water supply solutions for homes and businesses,” Bellon said. “We will be working with local partners to manage the water supply in the Skagit Basin to ensure stream flows are protected and the needs of existing and future water users are met.”

A total of 475 homes and 8 businesses have relied on Skagit reservations for their water supplies since 2001. Ecology will be looking for water supply solutions for those homes and businesses who are affected by today’s ruling.

Ecology is assessing today’s decision and how it may affect water management in other areas of the state.

For today’s court decision, go to: www.courts.wa.gov/opinions/pdf/876720.pdf

Analysis on Federal Ruling Forcing Culvert Repair -NWIFC

Want to more fully understand last Friday’s landmark ruling that forces the State to accelerate it’s timetable for replacing fish-blocking culverts? Here’s a good place to start: Billy Frank Jr and Ron Allen comment for the NW Indian Fisheries Commission.

OLYMPIA – The state of Washington must fix fish-blocking culverts under state-owned roads because they violate tribal treaty rights, federal Judge Ricardo Martinez ruled on Friday, March 29.

“This is a historic day,” said Billy Frank Jr., Nisqually tribal member and chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission. “This ruling isn’t only good for the resource, but for all of us who live here. It will result in more salmon for everyone. This is a great victory for all who have worked so hard to recover wild salmon.”

Read the whole article at:
http://nwifc.org/2013/04/federal-court-upholds-tribal-treaty-rights-in-culvert-case/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+nwifc+%28NWIFC+News%29&utm_content=Google+Feedfetcher

Roundup of other culvert coverage:
http://nwifc.org/2013/04/roundup-of-culvert-case-coverage/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+nwifc+%28NWIFC+News%29&utm_content=Google+Feedfetcher

Tribes waiting for answer to key Whatcom water rights question – Bellingham Herald

What affects one Tribe affects them all. This story is relevant because if the Tribes can sue to and come to an agreement on how much water is “enough” in these rivers, it will set precedent for all rivers throughout the Salish Sea. Might be the next “big thing” that makes the WRIA debate mild in comparison. As well it should, as we cannot assume that we can take unlimited water from the watersheds in a time of climate warming. There just won’t be the snow pack to support this.

Local Indian tribes sought federal legal action to clarify critical Whatcom County water rights issues more than 18 months ago, but so far there has been no response. The tribes contend that their fishing rights, recognized by the federal courts based on the Point Elliott Treaty of 1855, also contain a guarantee of Nooksack River water that is abundant enough and clean enough to support the salmon that spawn in the river and the shellfish in the tidelands that can be harmed by pollution. Local governments don’t dispute that, but years of negotiations have failed to reach agreement on how much water must be left in the river and its many tributaries to maintain tribal fisheries. John Stark reports.

http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2013/03/22/2931896/tribes-still-waiting-for-answer.html

Tribes: Hard-won fishing rights here worthless without fish

The Tribes are saying what is not politically acceptable to many. That the work to save the salmon here in Washington State is too little, maybe too late. More protection is needed. Likely not only in the watersheds, which is the thrust of this article, but out at sea as well. For those of us spending hundreds of volunteer hours to try and help restore this natural treasure, it is gratifying that someone is willing to say the impolite thing. That the emperors clothes might not be there. Can we even begin to think of calling for a 10 year fishing ban, both in the Straits, but more importantly out at sea? Would that help? It’s a idea I have heard from old time white fishermen who made a living off salmon prior to Boldt, tribal fishermen, scientists working on the problem, and environmentalists.

Here’s the Tribes’ point of view, as articulated by Billie Frank, Jr.

Lynda Mapes reports.

http://seattletimes.com/html/othersports/2020068220_fish06m.html

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