The Kitsap County Parks Department recently proposed a project which could see the return of a historic fishing pier, rebuilt at Hansville’s Norwegian Point Park, the announcement prompted some locals to take to social media to voice their support for a fishing pier, while others began to question the fate of a stalled state project which once sought to construct a boat ramp near Point No Point.
According to Rory Calhoun an accessibility specialist with the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office, the project to build a boat ramp near Point No Point has been in the works since 1996, when the state acquired the property using a $750,000 RCO grant. RCO grant funds totaling some $1.6 million were dogeared for the ramp from 1996 to 2018, not including a $2 million dollar appropriation from Washington’s Legislature and another $50,000 federal matching grant along with other revenue sources, Calhoun said. While funds were dogeared for the project, Calhoun noted that the office did not pay out for a number of the grants since the project was interrupted.
Kristen Kuykendall, an engineer with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife said $2.9 million has been spent on the project so far. Expenses, Kuykendall said, included acquisition, design and permitting, acquisition of two mitigation sites, demolition of pre-existing in-water structures and construction of the parking area.
Larry Phillips, Region 6 director for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, said the boat ramp project has become stalled amid negotiations with the local fishery’s co-managers, the Suquamish Tribe and the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe.
In order for the Army Corps of Engineers to sign off on a shoreline construction permit for WDFW to build the ramp, the local tribes must also give their nod of approval for the project. Unfortunately for the department, construction began and was completed on the ramp’s parking lot, without ever receiving the nod from the tribes.
“We moved forward with the understanding that we thought we were in a good position with the tribes to finish the project, or we wouldn’t have built the parking lot,” Phillips said. “Now with years down the road and a parking lot with no boat ramp, the folks in the local community that could have benefited from that — including the tribes — aren’t because there’s no boat ramp there.”
According to Phillips, treaty rights are the main concern for the tribes.
“The Suquamish Tribe’s position has been that they don’t support this construction of a boat ramp and we are in disagreement on what we believe the effect on treaty rights would be,” Phillips explained. “The agency is completely committed with the co-managers to make sure that their treaty rights are not negatively affected by the construction of this relatively small, neighborhood-type boat ramp.”
Phillips explained that while negotiations are ongoing with the Suquamish Tribe, the department has received a tacit nod of approval from the nearby Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe. Phillips made it a point to express WDFW’s concern for ensuring treaty rights are maintained.
“We know that habitat is a key problem right now in terms of natural production limiting opportunity, but the cumulative effect of this small, neighborhood boat ramp, we feel is consistent with meeting the needs of our commitment to working with the tribes on a harvest management plan,” the director said.
Currently, Phillips said WDFW is working with the Army Corps of Engineers to figure out what the next move for the project might be.
“They [the Army Corps of Engineers] are actively going through the process to review the construction permit right now, to gather information, it’s not a fast process,” Phillips said. “There’s very little in terms of precedent, case law or rulings to really give the Army Corps the tools it needs to make a determination as far as treaty rights go.”
As for the fishing pier at Norwegian Point Park, a preliminary public meeting on the project is scheduled for Tuesday, April 30 at 6:30 p.m. at the Greater Hansville Community Center.