Sinclair Inlet barges must pay for where they stay

The in basket: Gerry Devenpeck wrote to say, “I was driving through Gorst on Highway 3 this morning and looked into the bay and saw barges anchored there. It caused me to wonder who is responsible for the enforcement and if there is a parking fee charged.

“You may have already done a story on it that I missed,’ he said.

The out basket: Well, sort of. I explained the purpose of the barges or their contents in a Road Warrior column in August, but didn’t answer the questions Gerry has.

Paul Fritts of Thompson’s Landing on the south shoreline helped me then by telling me the large blue barge in the middle is a fish processing vessel to which he leases the spot. He referred me to the Navy as regards the others, and Navy officials said they hold components of the second explosives handling wharf being built at Bangor, waiting for when they are needed.

Two of the barges held those bridge-lilke structures then. Now there is only one and the others are empty.

This time I asked the state Department of Natural Resources. Joe Smillie, a DNR public relations officer, said, “Yes, barges in Sinclair Inlet pay to lease moorage. As the manager of aquatic lands owned by the state of Washington, DNR is the only agency who grants leases in Sinclair Inlet.

“Leases are granted after a potential user applies,” he said. “DNR then reviews the site and (whether) the applicant has secured the necessary regulatory permits (from Fish & Wildlife, Ecology, Army Corps of Engineers, the local shoreline management jurisdiction, etc.) to install any improvements or trade fixtures needed for their intended use.  “Final lease terms are then negotiated between DNR and the applicant. DNR revalues rental rates every four years. Rents for water-dependent leases are spelled out in Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 332-30-123.

“There are three barge mooring leases in the west end of Sinclair Inlet near Gorst,” he said. Paul Fritts has one good through March 2036 and pays $4,086.32 a year, Boyer Towing Inc. has another one good through this year and pays  $3,776.23 a year and Alaska Marine Lines has the third, good through October 2026 and pays $7,941.86 a year, Joe said.

“Leases can be assigned to other parties,” he said when I asked. “Authorizations to use state-owned aquatic lands, or pending applications to do so, are posted on the DNR web site at:”

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