DNR and Navy strike a deal on Hood Canal

The Navy and Washington State Department of Natural Resources have entered into a deal, declaring a restrictive easement along 32 miles of Hood Canal’s eastern shore.

Some 2,481 acres of aquatic bedlands will be protected as a result of the easement, which will prohibit the development of wharfs, piers, platforms and other industrial structures, according to a press release. Existing structures or authorized uses like marinas, cable lines or recreational activities like boating and public access will not be affected. As part of the agreement, the Navy will pay DNR $342,000.

The commanding officer for Naval Base Kitsap, Alan Schrader, said limiting industrial shoreline development will help assure the Navy’s continued operations in the area.

“The Navy’s ability to use Hood Canal for military operations depends on reducing incompatible development and noise,” Schrader said. “Through this agreement, the Navy will be able to continue training and testing at Naval Base Kitsap for decades to come.”

Hood Canal is used by the Navy to test unmanned vehicles, submarine readiness, diver training and similar activities related to undersea warfare.

According to Joe Smillie, DNR’s communications director, the 55-year agreement will not prevent the construction of recreational facilities like a boat launch on the restrictive easement. Additionally, the agreement helps to protect the ecosystems within the bedlands, he said.

“This is just kind of a layer of protection that ensures the wild geoduck stock that’s down there won’t be developed over, or the eelgrass beds,” Smillie said. “We still maintain ownership. This doesn’t give the Navy the right to build anything or make any improvements.”

-Nick Twietmeyer is a reporter with Kitsap News Group. Nick can be reached at ntwietmeyer@soundpublishing.com