Olympic National Park says no recreational Razor Clam Harvest at Kalaloch this season

Based on continued low population estimates and a downward trend in the Kalaloch razor clam population over the past five years, Olympic National Park will not hold a recreational razor clam harvest this year.

Biologists from Olympic National Park, Quinault Indian Nation (QIN), Hoh Indian Tribe (Hoh), and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) conduct razor clam stock assessments each summer.  This year’s results showed the Kalaloch razor clam population to contain approximately half the number of clams found in 2013. Adult clams continue to be small, with an average size of 3.8 inches.

Kalaloch has been closed to harvest for the last three years due to the razor clams’ low population status.

“Considering the continued depression of the Kalaloch razor clam population, Kalaloch beach will remain closed to recreational razor clam harvest this season,” said Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum.

The park will continue to consult with QIN, Hoh and WDFW biologists to assess potential razor clam harvests at Kalaloch in the future.

Quinault Elders in Aberdeen traffic accident Tuesday

ABERDEEN, Wash. (AP) — A tribal spokesman says eight Quinault Indian Nation tribal elders and staff members have been injured in a traffic crash in Aberdeen.

Spokesman Steve Robinson says the Quinault group was headed to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Tuesday morning when their van collided with a pickup truck. Robinson says two elders were airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, one with a broken pelvis and the other with a broken pelvis and broken ribs. Other injuries in the crash included broken bones, bumps and bruises.

None of the injuries was considered critical.

The crash caused the van to flip over. Robinson says the two people in the pickup were not seriously hurt.

“The truck just came out of nowhere,” one of the victims said. The accident put an abrupt end to the elders’ plans to attend a conference in Phoenix, Arizona.

Upon hearing of the accident, tribal staff rushed to provide support.
“This was a terrible accident,” said Tribal Councilman Larry Ralston. “The Tribe and the families will take every precaution with our elders and provide all the support we can to help nurse them back to health. I just wish people would slow down and be more cautious,” he said. Preliminary indications are that the pickup truck ran a red light when it crashed into the tribal van. The accident is being investigated by local authorities.
Among other things, the Tribe is setting up grief counseling, as a precaution, for the seniors and their families.
“Our hearts go out to the victims of this terrible accident,” said Fawn Sharp, President of the Quinault Nation. “We do all we can to keep our seniors safe. They are very precious to us. We extend our gratitude to the local police, Harborview, and Grays Harbor Community Hospital and all other emergency services personnel who rendered aid in this morning’s emergency.”
The names of the victims were withheld until consent to publish them is provided.

Public scoping begins on two proposals to export crude by rail

Over 120 attended the first of two public meetings last night to begin to shape Environmental Impact Statements being prepared for two companies that seek to export crude oil from Grays Harbor ports. Quinault Indian Nation President Fawn Sharp was one of the first to provide comment. “Quinault opposes oil in Grays Harbor. Fish, shellfish, and aquatic plants in Grays Harbor are central to the lives and culture of Quinault people. We oppose the sacrifice of our lives and culture for a few jobs.”
Government and business leaders politely waited alongside concerned citizens from throughout the county, as they filed into a chair at the front of the Commons area at Hoquiam High School and gave their 2 minute statements. Retired teacher Wes Brosnan noted “This track is in such terrible condition that it could be sabotaged by a clever 12 year old.”
Concerns ranged from catastrophic failure of the cars, or rail system, to increased overall traffic and emergency responses. Hoquiam business owner Garret Phillips added “I’m deeply concerned about the impacts of the proposed crude oil trains on traffic congestion in every community along the rail corridor, and the associated impacts to our economy, our health, and our public services.”
So where do the comments go from there? Brendan McFarland with the Department of Ecology says “We take the comments and start studying them, the next public phase is when we put out a draft Environmental Impact Statement and the public gets a chance to comment on that.
From there the Department of Ecology will make separate determinations on whether to permit the new, or increased petroleum exports at two sites in Hoquiam.
The second, and final scoping meeting for this phase will be held April 29th in Centralia High School Commons, 813 Eshom Road. You can submit your comments without getting in front of a big crowd, either online or by mail, for details visit http://ecy.wa.gov
Public comment is open through May 27th to determine what should be studied in Impact Statements being prepared for Westway Terminal Company and Imperium Renewables in Hoquiam. Though the proposals are separate, the agencies are holding a joint scoping comment period. All comments received will be considered for both proposals.

Quinault Indian Nation to open Lake Quinault to regulated use

TAHOLAH, WA – The Quinault Indian Nation announced today they are reopening Lake Quinault to non-tribal use, under specified regulations and restrictions. President Fawn Sharp, said that since the lake was shut down in June of last year, to address pollution, invasive species and other issues, property and business owners in the area have spoken out in support of the Tribe’s actions, saying they appreciate the work being done by Quinault to protect the lake for future generations.

In a statement by the tribe Sharp said “Safeguarding our sacred lake for our children and for all the life it sustains is one of our highest priorities. If we can achieve those objectives, and share this precious resource with our non-tribal members, that’s what we will do. We believe it is time to try.”
Their Business Committee passed the Lake Quinault 2014 Fishing, Boating and Use Regulations Monday night, which covers usage of the lake for a one year period.

The press release added that the lake, up to the Ordinary High Water Mark, is located within the boundaries of the Quinault Indian Reservation. Violators of their regulations could result in confiscation of gear, and boats, as well as enforcement under the Quinault Tribal Code in the Quinault Tribal Court at Taholah.

 

FINAL Lake Quinault Regulations 04-14-14

Permits filed for third Oil-by-rail terminal at Port of Grays Harbor

SEATTLE – U.S. Development Group is seeking permits to build an oil terminal on the Washington coast that could handle about 45,000 barrels of crude oil a day.

The $80 million proposal at the Port of Grays Harbor is one of several in Washington that together would bring millions of barrels of oil by train from the Bakken region of North Dakota and Montana.

About 17 million barrels of oil were shipped across Washington state last year, mostly to refineries in Anacortes and Cherry Point near Bellingham. That number is expected to triple this year, according to U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who chaired a congressional hearing Wednesday on oil shipments by train.

“We need to have the right policies in place to prevent accidents and respond to emergencies when they do happen,” Murray said at the hearing.

Charla Skaggs, a spokeswoman for U.S. Development, said the company has a proven safety record and is committed to safety on the project at Grays Harbor.

Texas-based U.S. Development has developed more than a dozen bulk liquid facilities in the U.S., and “they have an exemplary safety record,” Skaggs said. “They’ve operated very safe facilities for years, and that’s their commitment at Grays Harbor.”

The Grays Harbor Rail Terminal project would bring about one unit train to the facility every two days. A unit train typically has 120 rail cars, and each car can hold about 28,000 gallons.

The company filed permit applications Monday with the city of Hoquiam, Skaggs said. The state Department of Ecology and the city are expected to begin an environmental review process.

“It’s a terrible idea,” said Kristen Boyles, an attorney with Earthjustice representing the Quinault Indian Nation, which is worried about the impacts of oil shipment and storage.

She said oil would be stored in a fragile shoreline area, and billions of barrels of oil would travel through the Grays Harbor estuary, a thriving area for tribal and commercial fishing.

The Grays Harbor Rail Terminal is the third crude-by-rail facility proposed at the Port of Grays Harbor.

The environmental review process for two other projects, by Westway Terminal Co. and Imperium Renewables, began this month.

Quinault Indian National says Taholah residents are safe

The Quinault Indian Nation says repair work is done on their seawall and residents are safe – for now, adding that with climate change their work is not done.
In a press release, President Fawn Sharp said the “Quinault Nation is very grateful to the U. S. Corps of Engineers and all the people, programs and agencies that pitched in to help achieve this. But the work is not done. The effects of climate change continue. The sea level continues to rise. Waves are higher and the storms are more intense.”

The recent $300,000 project used 100 dump trucks to place approximately 4500 tons of rock along the Taholah seawall just south of the Quinault River. The tribe said it was breached in late March by pounding waves and high winds, and declared an emergency for coastal flooding in the lower village of Taholah.

Sharp added “We have to keep working, together, to meet these challenges and find permanent solutions. The slide at Oso and the sea wall breaching at Quinault are just examples of the challenges we have yet to face here in the Northwest. It has fallen to us, in this generation, to meet those challenges with strength, courage and cooperation. Climate Change is an enormous problem—one we must work together to resolve.”

Quinault Indian Nation considering lake regulations, could reopen Lake Quinault by late April

The Quinault Indian Nation (QIN) Business Committee is considering draft regulations which could lead to the reopening of Lake Quinault to non-tribal use this spring, according the QIN President Fawn Sharp. The lake was closed in April of 2013 due to concerns related to water pollution, invasive species, public safety and the need to protect and restore salmon habitat, particularly Blueback salmon. It was reopened, for swimming only, in time for the July 4 week end.

Representatives of the QIN met with community members on March 26 and shared draft regulations with those in attendance, including fishing and boating policies, a possible temporary moratorium on the removal of docks and a probable restriction against non-resident boats. If approved, the regulation allowing only resident boats would minimize the introduction of invasive species through transference on craft used in other bodies of water. Invasive species, ranging from milfoil to quaggua mussels, can cause severe damage to a lake environment.

Lake Quinault: The lake is within the boundaries of the Quinault Indian Reservation  and owned entirely by the Quinault Nation up to the Ordinary High Water Mark.
Lake Quinault: The lake is within the boundaries of the Quinault Indian Reservation
and owned entirely by the Quinault Nation up to the Ordinary High Water Mark.

Another community meeting is tentatively scheduled for April 19, in concert with Earth Day.  This would be a forum, in part intended to inform and educate the public about invasive species, and other risks to the lake environment. Among others it is anticipated that there will be a presentation by an official from the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife Aquatic Invasive Species Unit.

“Closing the lake was not an easy decision for the Quinault Nation to make. We realize it caused difficulties for a number of people. But I’m happy to say that our relationship with the businesses and residents in the Lake Quinault area has improved and that there seems to be greater understanding about our reasons for taking the action we did. Lake Quinault is a sacred place to us, and protecting it and the fish and wildlife habitat it provides for future generations, particularly Blueback salmon, is one of our highest priorities,” said Sharp.

“As a business owner in Amanda Park on the lower Quinault River, I have regular communications with Tribal fishing guides and QIN leadership.  We, the Quinault River Inn ownership and staff, acknowledge the singular importance of maintaining the health of the Lake and the river ecosystem.  A healthy lake supports cultural heritage, tourism and the historic use by the Lake Quinault community. We thank the Tribe for its leadership on this issue, particularly in gathering people representative of all parts of our community.  We look forward to more work together to ensure our common goal.  As stated so well by the Nation, ‘Protection and restoration of natural habitats in the Lake are priority policy objectives of QIN and forms a central theme for the Nation’s environmental regulations and guidelines.’ The Quinault River Inn ownership and staff align with this priority objective,” said Peter D. Bailey of the Quinault River Inn.

A statement by lakeside property owners Joe and Leslie Wheeler said, “We want to thank and applaud the Quinault Nation for its visionary leadership in protecting Lake Quinault.  The lake is a beautiful resource of the Quinault Nation that the Nation has graciously made available for use by the general public. With foresight and an eye towards future generations, the Nation is taking significant steps towards preserving and even improving the beauty that is Lake Quinault.  We fully support the protective use restrictions placed on the Lake so that the Quinault Blue Back Salmon can thrive again its once vast numbers and to protect from the introduction of invasive species.”

The Quinault Nation will provide additional information as it becomes available.

Army Corps. commences emergency repairs to Taholah seawall, heavy traffic expected

The U.S. Corps of Engineers has commenced work on the Quinault Indian Nation (QIN) sea wall and Quinault has issued an advisory that this will result in increased traffic from Aberdeen to Taholah along the ocean beach road and State Route 109 for the next 48 hours, according to QIN President Fawn Sharp.

More than 100 dump trucks are engaged in the project. “With clam digging this weekend and Quinault’s General Council meeting taking place, it is projected that there will be more than 1000 additional vehicles on the road already, so we advise people to drive with extreme caution,” said Sharp.

The Corps approved Quinault’s request for emergency assistance shortly after it concurred that an emergency situation exists, posing an imminent threat to the lives and safety of residents of the Lower Village of Taholah due to breaching of the seawall and encroachment of high waves and sea water.

High waves and winds are anticipated over the week end and the threat continues. “But it is important for people to remain calm and follow the instructions of our emergency workforce,” said President Sharp.

“We wish to acknowledge and thank the help of the Corps of Engineers as well as Grays Harbor Emergency Services, the elected officials and all others who have sent their prayers and offers of support. Our people will be kept safe and we will continue to seek a more long term solution to this dangerous situation,” said Sharp.

Quinault Nation Declares State of Emergency

Fawn Sharp, President of the Quinault Indian Nation, declared a state of emergency Tuesday night due to a breach in the Taholah seawall and destruction of a smokehouse, other outbuildings and properties in the lower village. The damage was caused by high waves and intense winds. A press release from the Tribe said Sharp is the Chief Executive Officer designated to possess constitutional authority to issue such direction for the Tribe.

President Sharp also issued a voluntary evacuation order in the area and filed a request with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that the portion of Taholah in danger of being flooded and otherwise in danger from this situation be declared a federal disaster area and be made available for disaster support.

Sharp issued an executive order stating that “the dangerous condition continues and that the Taholah seawall is no longer capable of stopping the ocean from advancing into our lower village of Taholah.”

The executive order stated, “Lives as well as property are in imminent danger. A state of emergency exists in the tribal village of Taholah, on the Quinault Reservation.”

President Sharp met with congressional officials, including Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and Congressmen Derek Kilmer and Dave Reichert as well as officials from the Army Corps earlier this month. “All of these officials were very supportive of our long term plans related to protection of our people from these ongoing dangerous conditions and the funding that will be required to achieve that protection on a permanent basis.”

Temporary mitigation efforts to reinforce the Taholah seawall were taken in January, when the Corps of Engineers placed 800 tons of riprap rock. “It is obvious that Quinault’s coastal defenses desperately require a more permanent fix,” said Sharp.

“We have been experiencing an increasingly dangerous situation with sea level rise and intensified storms. Our people must be protected. We will take whatever measures are necessary to see that they are,” said Sharp.

15th Annual United Way Gala a Success for Grays Harbor and Pacific Counties

The 15th Annual United Way Gala was a huge success thanks to the support and generosity of the community.  There were well over the 300 people at the event. “The Gala raised over $75,000 for programs that reach thousands of people throughout Grays Harbor and Pacific Counties each year”, said Nora LeBlanc, Executive Director.  “We were honored to have so many special guests including President Fawn Sharp, Congressman Derek Kilmer and our speaker Coach Dana LeDuc.”

 

Every dollar that is raised is used for local people to help our children succeed and thrive, meet basic needs and ensure that people are safe. United Way invests in twenty-two programs that helps people as they strive for a better life.

 

“It was a fantastic turnout and we are so grateful to everyone that came to support United Way,” said Donna Rosi, President of the United Way Boards of Directors.  “And we want to thank all the sponsors of this year’s Gala, Presenting sponsors Rich Hartman’s Five Star Dealerships, Jodesha Broadcasting; Platinum Sponsor; The Quinault Indian Nation; Silver Sponsor, Timberland Bank and the table sponsors Coastal Women’s Health, Harbor Pacific, Westport Properties, Coca-Cola, Behavioral Health Resources, Comcast & Comcast Spotlight, Hanner Enterprises, Bank of the Pacific Real Estate Division, Masco Petroleum, Robert Torgerson, the Daily World, Grays Harbor Radio and Pasha Automotive.”

 

The annual Gala and Auction is the largest fundraising event for United Way. United Way of Grays Harbor and Pacific Counties is funded solely through private donations from individuals, businesses and workplace campaigns.