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Tribe clearing 20-acre property

 - Brad Camp/Staff Photo
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff Photo

SUQUAMISH — The Suquamish Tribe began clearing the way this week for thousands of visitors descending on the area in 2009 by starting work to convert 10 acres into a camping area.

Tribal Chairman Leonard Forsman said the work on the 20-acre parcel is necessary to be able to welcome pullers, family and friends during the 2009 Tribal Journeys, when Suquamish will be the final destination.

“The area has been logged before, and I don’t envision too many people getting concerned about this,” he said. “We’re not building anything there yet, it will be a while before we do.”

This is just one of many steps the tribe is taking to prepare for the celebration when the spotlight will be on downtown Suquamish in a way it never has before. Design work has begun on a new Community House and museum and arts center, as well as a new dock near the “slab.”

The cleared property is located across the street from the Suquamish Tribal Administrative Center on Suquamish Way and kitty-corner to the land where the new museum will be located.

Suquamish Tribal engineer Bob Gatz said before the acreage is used for camping, it will serve as an area to air dry logs used in the Community House construction.

“They will be logged, peeled and dried properly,” he said. “We’re trying to air dry them. If we’re done with the logs, it will be a nice place in 2009 for people to camp... We are going to put together a nice sign complete with renderings of the Community House and museum describing what we are doing.”

The sign will be posted in front of the property being cleared, though Gatz didn’t say when he expected it to be installed. As far as maintaining buffers for sensitive ecosystems, Forsman said the tribe is making every effort to protect the delicate balance.

“We’re just delineating the wetlands and making efforts not to impact the wetlands,” he said. “There is a creek that runs through the area, and we want to have as minimal an impact on that as possible.”

The area will be used as campgrounds for several Tribal Journeys following 2009. Once it has served its purpose, it will be used for either economic or housing development, though Forsman said those plans are vague at best right now.

“The long-term conceptual for those 20 acres... those are all still theoretical options,” he said. “That’s our way of thinking right now.”

The contract the Suquamish Tribe has with the land clearing company states the project must be completed within 90 days, but Gatz said they are trying to get it done sooner to meet the fall grass seeding window, which closes Oct. 15.

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