The Suquamish Tribe Responds

Leonard Forsman at the Suquamish Tribe sent the following statement regarding today’s story about the tribe’s opposition to the Bremerton Boardwalk. This letter does offer more details about the tribe’s stand. I’ll offer comment on a couple elements.

Tribe seeks to clear the air on Boardwalk project

The Suquamish Tribe is committed to positive relationships with all people and governments of the Puget Sound. These relationships require a fair and open exchange of information.  That’s why; it is important to set the record straight on the current discussion regarding the proposed Bremerton Boardwalk extension project.

The Kitsap Sun story, “Suquamish Tribe Opposes Proposed Bremerton Boardwalk Extension” is misleading on several counts.  First, the article suggests that the City only recently learned of the Tribe’s concerns.  In fact, we have been engaged in discussions with the City for two years and have been clear that we oppose the Boardwalk extension in its current scope.  At the City’s request, the Tribe sent a letter to city officials in January 2008 detailing its concerns.

Second, the Tribe supports two of the three components of the Bremerton Boardwalk project.  We support the cleanup of the former Chevron Bulk Fuel Storage next to Evergreen Park and the replacement of the beach sewer main.  We support the Chevron Storage cleanup because it will restore critical nearshore habitat, which is a key aspect of the State’s Puget Sound Cleanup Initiative.  The Tribe works with various agencies and jurisdictions on similar projects to improve the health of Puget Sound and ensure a clean Puget Sound for future generations.

The Suquamish Tribe opposes the Boardwalk extension primarily because of its expansive overwater coverage.  This structure would cover the equivalent of two traffic lanes stretching for nearly 2/3 mile.  The Tribe is concerned that a structure of this size will likely destroy critical habitat for fish and shellfish, collect garbage and pollution, change feeding and migratory patterns of fish, and alter currents which impacts sedimentation and marine life.

The story also misleads by stating that the Tribe has provided a written objection to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  We can’t officially object until the regulatory permitting process starts.  Others may weigh in during permit review.

The Tribe is fulfilling its duty to protect its treaty fishing rights and resources by being a good steward of our traditional waters.

Despite our differences on this project, the Tribe strives to be a good neighbor and has successfully worked with the City and the Port of Bremerton on past projects.   The Tribe is confident that City and the Tribe will continue to do so.

Leonard Forsman
Suquamish Tribe

Some of my response is included in my letter back to Forsman.

I don’t think the story suggests the city just learned this, but it’s clear some readers have that impression. Originally I had intended to be more specific with time information, but I wasn’t solid about the dates, so I removed the time element. It’s clear to me now that apparently that’s an important distinction.

The story does make it clear that the tribe supports two of the three components, namely the property cleanup and the new sewer line. The scope of the boardwalk provides the source of objection.

On the objection to the Army Corps, I heard that from Phil Williams. He said the city applied to the corps, but pulled its application after the tribe responded to the corps. In fact, he said he received the tribe’s written objection from the corps. I’ve made a document request to the city for whatever letters the tribe sent to the corps and for the city’s response. I’m supposed to have those in the morning.

6 thoughts on “The Suquamish Tribe Responds

  1. Mr. Forsman, In response to your \statement\, my spouse and I have cut up our Clearwater Club Cards and will return the pieces to your casino. Have a great day!

  2. Mr. Forsman

    While I appreciate the concerns you’ve raised about impacts to the environment – and I also agree with your concerns – As far as I’m concerned the Tribe lost its credibility the day you put in the Casino. In this case the pot is calling the kettle black. There a long list of tribal projects going back years that one can point to that were done with little or no regard for the environment.

    “Do as I say not as I do” comes to mind

  3. In response to the 2/3 mile stretch of water that will be covered by boardwalk: Isn’t this a “raised” structure on columns? As the sun moves across the sky, light will strike all points underwater under the structure. Having lived on the beach on Washington Ave, I can attest to the sad state of the beach already, and feel this would clean up the area and provide the public an educational opportunity about the shoreline and its native people.

  4. Mr. Forsman,
    What is more likely to affect your fishing ability: A 526 foot dock that intends to be a magnet for tourist boats, and the same type of people that you say will put garbage in the water, located in your most traditional of “traditional places” or a larger structure that won’t service boats, but will service environmental upgrades, located in perhaps your least traditional or never used “traditional places”?

    Good neighbors are those that respect each others rights and ways. Many would say you have shown little of that in regards to codes, growth management, forms of political persuasion, and a myriad of other issues. Why? Is there an answer other than ‘to protect your fishing rights in traditional places’ or for ceremonial purposes? Did you even consider that maybe your dock impedes the half of the fish that you are not entitled to?

    Friendly dogs that get along aren’t constantly marking the bushes of each other’s territory.

  5. What on earth does this have to do with the Casino? People, it’s the tribes job to manage their fishery. If the State Fish and Game objected, would you stop going to State liquor stores?

    I am curious what the NWIFC has to say about the boardwalk proposal.

  6. Craig, What do you think they will say? Their recent news magazine praised the S’Klallams for fending off a multi-use dock at the old mill site at Port Gamble and didn’t make a peep about the Suquamish’s dock over twice as long.

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