Swinomish Tribe says “No More Oil Trains on Our Land”

A Native American tribe says too many trains, some of which carry volatile Bakken crude, are crossing its reservation and it’s suing the rail company to stop them.

The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community alleges BNSF Railway is violating an easement agreement made in 1991. The agreement set limits on the numbers and lengths of trains to cross this part of the Puget Sound area, and requires the rail company to inform the Tribe about the types of cargo.

Tribal chairman Brian Cladoosby says getting oil to a coastal refinery seems to have taken precedence over the original deal.

“The last letter we received from them indicated they weren’t going to abide by our agreement, and that they had to provide this [crude] to the Tesoro refinery,” says Cladoosby. “So, they basically indicated they were going to keep doing what they’re doing.”

The lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Seattle asks that BNSF stick to the original agreement: one train per day in each direction across the reservation, of no more than 25 cars in length, with the added specification of no Bakken crude on those trains.

Cladoosby says oil trains of more than 100 cars began crossing the reservation in 2012, and the Tribe has been asking about them since then. He says spills or worse aren’t risks the Tribe is willing to take.

“The trains run in real close proximity to our economic development area,” Cladoosby says. “Where we have our casino, our hotel, our bingo hall, our gas station, our RV park, our sewer treatment plant. So, it’s pretty close proximity.”

In a report last month, the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission cited 14 instances in which hazardous materials leaked from BNSF rail cars in a recent four-month period, and the commission claims not all were reported promptly.

BNSF said it found inaccuracies in “more than 90 percent of those allegations.” The company has ordered 5,000 new and updated oil tank cars.

Members of the Swinomish Tribe, seen here at a tribal ceremony, are concerned that long trains of oil tank cars are crossing their reservation every week, a development the Tribe says violates its 1991 easement agreement with a rail company. Photo credit: Leslie Dierauf/U.S. Geological Survey.
Members of the Swinomish Tribe, seen here at a tribal ceremony, are concerned that long trains of oil tank cars are crossing their reservation every week, a development the Tribe says violates its 1991 easement agreement with a rail company. Photo credit: Leslie Dierauf/U.S. Geological Survey.

Olympic National Park Staff Prepare for Summer Season: Come Find Your Park This Spring

As migrating birds return and wildflowers bloom in the lowland forests, employees at Olympic National Park are turning their attention to spring cleaning and preparations for the main visitor season.

“We’ve had an early spring at Olympic National Park and we’re happy to see people already coming out to enjoy the warmth, sunshine and budding trees,” said Olympic National Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum.  “It’s still wintry at the park’s higher elevations though, and no matter the elevation, visitors should always be prepared for changing conditions, as rain and even snow are possible at any time of year.”

 

Staircase

The Staircase Campground is open year round for primitive camping (pit toilets and no water.)  Drinking water and flush toilets will be available during for the summer season from May 22 through September 28.

 

Dosewallips

The Dosewallips Road remains closed due to a washout outside the park boundaries in Olympic National Forest, so access to the campground is walk-in (5.5 miles) only.

 

Deer Park

Deer Park Road and campground are both scheduled to open by mid-June, snow permitting.  While most of the road is snow-free, drifts remain at the upper elevations.  If conditions allow, this area may open earlier than scheduled. The campground provides primitive camping, with pit toilets and no drinking water.

 

Hurricane Ridge Road and Heart O’ the Hills

Hurricane Ridge Road is currently open as weather and staffing allow. People should call the Road & Weather Hotline at 360-565-3131 for current conditions and road status.

 

Beginning in early May, the road is generally open 24 hours a day, unless road work or late spring snow storms cause it to close temporarily.

 

The Hurricane Hill Road (the 1.5 mile of road that leads past the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center to the Hurricane Ridge picnic area and Hurricane Hill trailhead) is expected to open by mid-June.

 

Reaching elevations over 6,000 feet, sections of the Obstruction Point Road are still covered with four to five feet of snow, with higher drifts in some areas.  This road is expected to open in mid-June snow permitting.  If conditions allow, it may open earlier.

 

The Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center will be open on weekends only beginning May 2.  Weekend hours will continue through June 7.  The Visitor Center will be staffed daily beginning June 12.  The snack bar and gift shop on the lower level of the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center will be open on weekends only from May 3 – May 18 and will open daily beginning May 22. Check http://www.olympicnationalparks.com for more information.

 

The Olympic National Park Visitor Center is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. except for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

 

Heart O’ the Hills Campground is open year round with drinking water and flush toilets available.

 

Elwha Valley

The Olympic Hot Springs Road is open to the Boulder Creek Trailhead, unless road work or weather conditions close it temporarily.   There is currently no access from the Olympic Hot Springs Road to Glines Canyon or the former Lake Mills, as construction of a new parking area and viewpoint continues. This area is expected to open this summer.

The Whiskey Bend Road is closed to vehicle traffic at Glines Canyon Overlook, one mile above the intersection with Olympic Hot Springs Road. Winter rains caused a major washout that destrobyed a 500-foot section of road. The road remains open to foot, bicycle and horse travel, but all horse trailers must be parked and stock off-loaded at the Elwha picnic area. Horse trailers are not allowed on the Whiskey Bend Road because there not  currently a turnaround that will accommodate trailers.

 

The Elwha Campground is open year round for primitive camping (pit toilets and no water.)  Drinking water and flush toilets will be activated for the summer on April 17 through September 14.

 

Altair Campground is closed until further notice because of damage and loss of campsites and roadway caused by high winter flows along the Elwha River.  A timeline and plans for repairing and reopening the campground have not been completed.

 

Olympic Raft and Kayak, based just outside the park along the Elwha River, offers guided raft trips on the Elwha River, as well as kayak trips and other opportunities.  Check http://www.raftandkayak.com/ for more information.

 

Lake Crescent

Lake Crescent Lodge will open for the season on May 2 and will remain open through January 1, 2016, offering a range of lodging options, a dining room, boat rentals and gift shop.  More information is available at http://www.olympicnationalparks.com

 

Fairholme Campground will open this summer from May 21 through October 5, with drinking water and flush toilets available.  Beginning May 1, Fairholme General Store will be open Friday through Sunday through May 17.  Beginning May 22, the store will be open daily through September 7.

 

The Log Cabin Resort will open May 22 through September 30 for lodging, RV and tent camping, a boat launch, dining room and store.  More information is available at http://www.olympicnationalparks.com

 

La Poel Picnic area will open for day use on Saturday, May 23.

 

Sol Duc Valley

The Sol Duc Road is generally open 24 hours a day, unless road work or weather conditions cause it to close temporarily.

 

The Sol Duc Campground is open year round; drinking water and flush toilets will be activated on April 16.

 

The Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, is open for the season with lodging, dining, hot springs and a small store.  More information is available at http://www.olympicnationalparks.com

 

Hoh Rain Forest

The Hoh Rain Forest Road is generally open 24 hours a day, unless road work or weather conditions cause it to close temporarily.  The Hoh Rain Forest Campground is open year round with drinking water and flush toilets available.

 

The Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center is currently operating out of a temporary trailer while the main visitor center is under renovation.  The visitor center is now open Friday through Tuesday and will be open daily from June 17 through September 7.  The primary visitor center is expected to reopen this spring, at which time the temporary facilities will be removed.

 

Pacific Coast

Kalaloch, Mora and Ozette—Olympic National Park’s road-accessible coastal destinations—are open, including all roads, campgrounds and trailheads, except for the Beach Four parking area and trail, which are closed due to erosion damage.

 

The Kalaloch and Mora campgrounds both provide drinking water and flush toilets.  The Ozette Campground is primitive, with pit toilets and no potable water in the campground, however, water is available nearby.  South Beach Campground, a primitive campground located just south of Kalaloch, will open on May 15.

 

The Kalaloch Information Station will be open five days a week (Tuesday through Saturday) beginning on May 19.  Daily hours will begin June 16.

 

Kalaloch Lodge is open year-round with cabins, lodge rooms, dining and a gift shop.  For more information, check http://www.thekalalochlodge.com/ for more information.

 

Queets Valley

The Lower and Upper Queets roads are both open 24 hours a day, unless road work or weather conditions cause temporary closures, however the Lower Queets Road is closed about a half-mile below Matheny Creek (one mile before the end of the road) due to road damage. The Queets Campground is open for primitive camping with pit toilets and no potable water.

 

Quinault Rain Forest

The Quinault Loop Road, which includes the Quinault North Shore and South Shore roads, is open. The Graves Creek and North Fork roads are also open.  All Quinault area roads are typically open 24 hours a day, unless temporarily closed by road work or weather conditions.

 

The Graves Creek Campground and North Fork Campground are both open for primitive camping with pit toilets and no drinking water.

 

Park Trails & Wilderness Information Center
The Olympic National Park Wilderness Information Center (WIC), located at the Olympic National Park Visitor Center in Port Angeles is open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. beginning May 12.

 

Visitors are encouraged to stop by or call the Wilderness Information Center located within the Olympic National Park Visitor Center at 360-565-3100 for current trail reports, spring hiking safety tips and trip planning suggestions.  Information is also available at the park’s website.

Several feet of snow remains on the ground, beginning at elevations above 4,000 feet. Even at low elevations, hikers are reminded to use caution and be aware of downed trees, trail damage, high and swift creek crossings, and changing weather conditions.

Abandoned motor home towed into power poles in Pacific County

An RV was wrecked into utility poles off of State Route 6 South of Menlo this morning knocking out power to a couple hundred Pacific County residents. Trooper Russ Winger with the Washington State Patrol tells KBKW the motor home was being towed by chain around 3:30, when the chain snapped and it failed to negotiate a curve onto Lilly Wheaton Road. That’s when the Pacific County PUD reports the 40 foot motor home wrecked into two of their main power lines, knocking out power to about 300. Half of those were restored later this morning, the rest around 2:30 this afternoon.
Trooper Winger reports the RV has been impounded, and they believe they may know who was driving, however it was known to be abandoned, and empty when they found it.

House hears bills to provide flood funding in Chehalis Basin

Two bills aimed at providing funding for flood relief projects in the Chehalis River Basin and statewide were heard in the House Capital Budget Committee today. The bills are sponsored by Rep. Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis, who also serves as the ranking Republican on the committee (pictured at right).Rep. DeBolt speaking in committee

“All of my focus this year is on providing this funding to make real the vision of the Chehalis Basin Flood Authority,” said DeBolt, R-Chehalis. “Our region cannot keep waiting for protection from the next flood. We can’t wait on further delays from the federal government, and it’s in the best interest of this state to invest in and protect our economic and infrastructure interests in the area.”

The five largest floods in the Chehalis Basin have occurred in the last 30 years. The 2007 flood caused an estimated $938 million in damage to infrastructure and communities.

House Bill 2356 would authorize $1 billion in general obligation bonds to finance flood hazard reduction projects in high risk areas of Washington that are most vulnerable to flooding.

House Bill 2357 would also authorize $1 billion in general obligation bonds for the same purposes, but also provide $505 million for storm water projects from general obligation bonds to protect and improve water quality and watershed function.

Testimony on flooding

Either bill could move forward, depending on support in the Legislature.

J. Vander Stoep, a Chehalis attorney; Dave Burnett, chair of the Chehalis Confederated Tribes and Vicki Raines, mayor of the town of Cosmopolis and chair of the Chehalis Basin Flood Authority, traveled to Olympia to testify before the committee (pictured at left).Testimony on flooding They provided an update on the use of previous funding for smaller projects, the regional plan for addressing floods, and questions that remain for the authority to answer before its report is due to the Legislature in November. (part of presentation pictured at right)

“I’m glad we had the local perspective to share how important this funding is to the people who live and work in the Chehalis Basin. This is about saving lives and livelihoods when the next flood comes. We must be prepared and not delay,” DeBolt said. “Flooding is the most costly natural disaster in our state – the better we can prepare for and prevent damage the more our state will save in the long run.”

DeBolt provided each member of the committee with copies of “This Flood Happened,” a compilation of stories about the 2007 flood from students at Adna Elementary in Chehalis.

One story from a kindergarten student reads: “The bridge broke to our house and the water came right up to our house. We rode the 4-wheelers through the trails to get out. We went to Uncle Dave’s house and stayed there a couple nights. Then we went to Grandma Donna’s house and spent lots of nights. Now we are all back home together and it is good.” A third grader wrote: “When the flood came, it started coming faster and faster. The RV started to float. The RV tilted. I started getting banged around. A helicopter came and got me and my Dad. I went and stayed with my Mom.” One first grader simply stated: “I didn’t feel good when the flood happened because I was scared. I was sad because my friends got flooded.”

“While I understand our focus is on funding for these projects, I wanted to provide the very real human stories affected by this devastating flood,” DeBolt said. “The importance of moving forward so this level of damage does not happen again cannot be understated. I look forward to moving forward with this funding so we can continue with the larger flood prevention projects now.”

After today’s hearing, both bills will await action by the House Capital Budget Committee. If the committee approves one or both bills, they will advance for consideration to be placed on the House floor calendar. At that point, the full House of Representatives could vote on the legislation.

The 2014 session is scheduled to adjourn March 13.

For more information about Rep. DeBolt, visit: www.representativericharddebolt.com.

Interstate Bicyclers Parky’s Peddlers Leaving Hoquiam Today

HOQUIAM, Wash. – Parky’s Peddlers are heading out from Hoquiam this morning on their 10 day bicycle trip from Canada to San Fransico. Parky’s Peddlers is a group of people committed to help the fight against Parkinson’s Disease. The group was welcomed by a barbeque dinner at the Hoquiam River RV Park off of Highway 101 last night, and will be peddling south from Hoquiam today so drive safe and watch for extra bicycles.
Parkinson’s disease is a disorder of the brain that leads to shaking (tremors) and difficulty with walking, movement, and coordination.
Locally, a Grays Harbor Parkinson’s Support Group has just started. Patients and caregivers meet on the last Tuesday of every month at the Hoquiam Library downstairs meeting room from 6 pm to 7 pm. If you want more information, please contact Bob Martin or Betsy Seidel at 360-533-5968.

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Grays Harbor Parkinson’s Support Group
Hoquiam, Washington
Meets at Hoquiam Library, downstairs meeting room 427 7th St. Hoquiam
Meets on Last Tuesday of the month at 6:00-7:00
Contact Bob Martin
Phone 360-533-5968

Hoquiam Patrol Car Stolen

A Hoquiam man hopped from the frying pan into the fire yesterday when he stole an idling police vehicle while investigators were looking into the disturbance that he allegedly caused.

 

The Hoquiam Police Department learned the consiquences of leaving a vehicle running while unattended yesterday.

Just before 11am, Hoquiam officers were investigating a 29 year old Hoquiam man who had been disturbing residents of the Hoquiam River RV Park on Queen Avenue.

The suspect jumped into one of the marked patrol cars that had been left unsecured in the parking lot with the engine running, and drove out onto Highway 101 with another patrol car in pursuit.

A PIT maneuver was used to disable the vehicle on the Highway 109 bypass nearby. The Hoquiam Police Department reports no injuries, and the Hoquiam man was booked into the County Jail without further incident.