Army Corps of Engineers denies building of boat ramp on Suquamish lands

The Army Corps of Engineers has denied the state Department of Fish and Wildlife’s application to build a boat ramp at Point No Point, citing the impact to the Suquamish Tribe’s fishing rights in the area.

The decision came at the conclusion of an over 12-year review. The DFW first submitted the application in 2009, hoping to construct a 30- x 120-foot boat ramp at Point No Point County Park.

Construction would have significantly impacted the fishing area that has belonged to the Suquamish Tribe since time in memoriam and would have violated the rights afforded to them by the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliot, the corps says.

The tribe has tried to work with DFW on alternative solutions that would limit the impacts on fishing rights. Suggestions ranged from limiting the type of vessels launched from the ramp to locating the ramp to other areas with less impact and that would provide greater access to public and tribal fishers alike.

“The Suquamish Tribe worked hard over the last twelve years to reach a middle ground with WDFW,” Suquamish Tribal Chairman Leonard Forsman said. “It’s the tribe’s responsibility to protect our people’s rights…and our fishing and cultural practices…”

Many years ago the area was home to a Suquamish village and to Chief Challicum. This historical and cultural significance played a role in the corp’s denial of the DFW’s application.

The corps also relied on information provided about the Suquamish Tribe’s fishing methods and the ceremonial aspects of the tribe when reaching its conclusion.

“The Army Corps decision denying WDFW’s boat ramp protects not only the Suquamish Tribe’s treaty rights but also the other tribes with fishing rights in the area,” Forsman said.