PORT GAMBLE — As the permitting progresses on a private 220-foot dock proposed for Port Gamble Bay, the nearby Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe is making its feelings about the project known.
Citing traditional, cultural, historical and environmental reasons the dock shouldn’t be built, Tribal Chairman Ron Charles said this week the tribe has officially appealed the project.
“We are very concerned that this almost happened several years ago in Port Gamble Bay,” he said. “Anytime there is a threat to the bay, we’ve been right there to address it. We pushed hard for a sewer system because our land is not conducive to a septic system. And now, along comes an idea for a dock that’s quite out of character for the bay.”
The tribe is echoing concerns raised by residents in the general area of the proposed dock. When Kitsap County issued a Mitigated Determination of Non-Significance Feb. 8, neighbors were given several weeks to comment. During that time, both the tribe and a group of residents in the area called Friends of Port Gamble Bay filed appeals.
County officials are currently reviewing citizen statements, which number between 150 to 200, but wouldn’t comment on how the tribe’s appeal would affect the case, said State Environmental Policy Act county coordinator David Greetham.
“Well I’m disappointed they decided to oppose it,” said dock applicant Charles Peters. “I can’t do anything about it. But my parents and my family have lived here for almost 11 years, and between us we have about 400 feet of property. Even then, the dock only takes 20 feet. I don’t believe we are interfering.”
The Friends of Port Gamble Bay is pleased to have the tribe’s support, and hope it will add clout to the case against the dock, said member Lola Gracey. The tribe has a strong voice in the community, she said, and has similar concerns to those of the group with regard to the environmental impacts.
“I’m glad the Indians have made a formal appeal,” Gracey said. “It’s very beneficial to our cause.”
The Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe is concerned the dock — roughly three-quarters the length of a football field — will not only cut it off from traditional uses of the bay, but have adverse environmental impacts as well, according to the appeal.
“The 220-foot dock, ramp and pier will directly interfere with the traditional use that has existed for generations and the dock is located in an area where the tribe has traditional stations for coho fishing,” the appeal states. “The tribal fishermen will be unable to engage in their fishing practices because the proposed dock and pier (and any boats) will interfere with the setting of fish nets.”
“There’s a great deal of misinformation and rumors around the neighborhood,” Peters said. “It’s not fair to the landowner at all.”