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Mitigation money will fund acquisition, restoration
LITTLE BOSTON — The Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe has been awarded approximately $6.8 million as compensation for the planned expansion at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor.
The Navy and Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe signed off on a mitigation agreement May 4.
The Navy plans to build a second explosives handling wharf at Bangor. In its environmental impact study, the Navy found that several endangered and threatened wildlife species will be affected by the waterfront construction. The mitigation plan calls for improvements to Tribal hatcheries, beach enhancement, a research facility, and up to $3.5 million to help acquire shoreline along Port Gamble Bay, south of the former Pope Resources mill site.
“For this particular issue, [the agreement] is as fair as it could be,” Tribal Chairman Jeromy Sullivan said. He said the negotiations were specific to the affected area, and the Tribe did not get to discuss past issues that may have violated its treaty rights.
However, Sullivan said he appreciated the work of the Navy and other Tribes, including Jamestown S’Klallam and Lower Elwha Klallam.“Our relationship with the Navy has improved dramatically,” Sullivan said.
The Navy reached a $9 million agreement with Port Gamble S’Klallam and Skokomish tribes. The funding will cross over the two tribes as they share the benefits of the projects.
The projects laid out in the mitigation plan will directly impact Tribal fisheries’ ability to maintain salmon and shellfish levels.
— The Hoodsport, McKernan, George Adams and Enetai hatcheries, all located at the south end of Hood Canal, will receive $1.1 million for infrastructure upgrades to improve salmon production.
— Beach enhancement will be funded with $1.3 million. This project includes shellfish seeding on 24 acres on lands owned by the Skokomish Tribe.
— Shellfish enhancements will be funded with $2.35 million, including construction of a shellfish nursery/floating upweller system in Port Gamble Bay; geoduck enhancement surveys; and construction of a wet lab facility with a research, education and training program.
— If the costs of the above projects stay on track, up to $3.5 million will be available for land conservation, specifically for the 566-acre shoreline block and the 678 maritime forest block of Pope Resources land along Port Gamble Bay.
The funding for land conservation will also be based on the land’s value after the appraisal is complete. Olympic Property Group hired the appriser to value the shoreline block first, which OPG president Jon Rose said is due by the end of July, and the remaining forested land appraisal should be done by August.
Pope Resources has an agreement with the Kitsap Forest and Bay Coalition, giving the coalition the opportunity to buy and conserve almost 6,700 acres south of the Port Gamble townsite if enough funding is obtained. The coalition consists of Kitsap County and several environmental and community organizations, which are applying for grants and searching for funding to buy the land by next May. Because of the susceptible nature of the bay and the shoreline, much of the focus is on acquiring the 566-acre shoreline block.
The state Legislature appropriated $7 million through the Department of Ecology for the shoreline, which is dependent on a financial agreement with OPG of the clean-up responsibilities of the old mill site. Rose said that agreement should be complete by early August.
Sullivan said this agreement gives the Tribe the opportunity to enhance their natural resources, which they have been struggling to sustain for several years.
“A lot of people thought the reservation was plentiful for many years,” he said. “[But] there are more harvesters now. This gives us an opportunity to catch up and keep up.”