The Washington Department of Natural Resources and Taylor Shellfish Farms have reached an agreement that could settle trespass damages — or maybe not.
The damages resulted from Taylor’s cultivation of geoducks on state-owned lands and include back lease payments, taxes, interest and compensation for DNR staff time. See my story to be published in tomorrow’s Kitsap Sun.
Taylor officials say they have always believed that the land in question was owned by the company. Apparently, they have convinced DNR officials as well as Commissioner of Public Lands Doug Sutherland, who worked out the details of the settlement agreement (PDF 1.8 mb) as he prepares to leave office.
Some environmental folks and local residents of Totten Inlet don’t believe for a minute that Taylor was an innocent party.
The case has grown more and more complicated. I’m still wading through the details, but my latest story takes a stab at explaining Taylor’s arguments in favor of a verdict of innocence. For more details, download Taylor’s presentation (PDF 2.5 mb) to the state.
I’m not sure at this point if the incoming commissioner of public lands, Peter Goldmark, will jump into this issue, but late this afternoon his spokesman, Aaron Toso, issued this statement:
Commissioner-elect Goldmark has said all along that there needs to be public involvement in this process. By the looks of this agreement, the people of the state are silenced in an attempt to sign a lease during the comment period.
I’ll be interested to see — and report on — the next chapter in this strange controversy.