Tag Archives: Norm Dicks

Norm Dicks inducted into Wild Salmon Hall of Fame

From childhood, U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks was destined to become an advocate for salmon and ultimately a champion for the entire Puget Sound ecosystem, according to recent comments from his family and friends.

Norm Dicks on a fishing trip in 2010.
Photo courtesy of Pacific Northwest Salmon Center

Most people know that Norm — whose home lies in southern Hood Canal — will leave office at the end of this year. Recognizing his efforts on behalf of salmon, the Pacific Northwest Salmon Center recently named him to its “Wild Salmon Hall of Fame.”

Neil Werner, executive director of the salmon center, said Norm embodies all the criteria for hall of fame inductees, such as a passion to restore wild salmon, a willingness to share knowledge and much success in making things happen. Listing the criteria, he said, is like describing Norm Dicks himself.

I won’t list all the accomplishments that Neil cited during an induction ceremony two weeks ago, but they included Norm’s leadership in obtaining congressional funding for a variety of programs to restore salmon in Puget Sound, to heal the Puget Sound watershed (including federal lands) and to increase our understanding of how the ecosystem works.

As a result, salmon have regained access to 900 miles of stream habitat, including the nearly pristine watershed above two dams on the Elwha River.

“We will see the benefits of what he has done for an awfully long time, if not in perpetuity,” Neil said.
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Dicks, Murray embrace Olympics wilderness plan

U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks and U.S. Sen. Patty Murray have announced their support for a plan that would add 130,000 acres of land to wilderness areas in Olympic National Forest, designate 23 rivers as “wild and scenic” and open the door to adding 20,000 acres to Olympic National Park.

This map shows areas proposed for public wilderness, park and river designations. / Click on image for full map (PDF 10.6 mb).

As I describe in a story in today’s Kitsap Sun, the proposal is based on a plan put forth by a coalition of 10 conservation groups called Wild Olympics.

Connie Gallant, chairwoman of Wild Olympics, told me that the group has been working with stakeholder and community groups to consolidate support on the Olympic Peninsula. Quoting Gallant’s statement on the website:

“Over the past two years, Wild Olympics has been reaching out to Peninsula communities to build support from diverse local voices, listen to concerns and get feedback on our draft proposal. More than 4,500 Peninsula residents have signed our petition, and nearly 200 Peninsula businesses, farms, faith leaders, hunting and fishing groups, elected officials, conservation and civic groups support Wild Olympics.”

It is not obvious that wilderness is a true water issue — the focus of this blog — but Bill Taylor, vice president of Taylor Shellfish Farms, is fairly convincing:

“The two largest shellfish hatcheries that supply seed to the West Coast industry are located on Hood Canal. Well over 150 jobs are provided in Hood Canal alone by the industry, not including the indirect jobs such as processing, sales and shipping. By protecting Olympic Peninsula forest and river watersheds, we ensure clean and safe water so that shellfish companies can continue to grow and further benefit the economy and ecology of Washington state.”

The above is one testimonial on the Wild Olympics website, which also includes statements by Bremerton’s Mike Hank of Veterans Conservation Corps, Mayor Michelle Sandoval of Port Townsend, Sequim author Tim McNulty of Olympic Park Associates, Hoodsport’s Ron Gold of RG Forestry Consultants, Aberdeen’s Roy Nott of Paneltech and Gardiner’s Dave Bailey of Greywolf Fly Fishing Club and Trout Unlimited.

Wild Olympics was started by Olympic Park Associates, Olympic Forest Coalition, Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society and North Olympic Group – Sierra Club. Added later were Washington Wilderness Coalition, The Mountaineers, Pew Environment Group, Sierra Club, American Rivers and American Whitewater.

To counteract the work of the Wild Olympics Campaign, Dan Boeholt of Aberdeen founded Working Wild Olympics, because he does not believe wilderness designations will be helpful.

“We’re arguing that if you put these lands into wilderness, it will restrict public access,” Boeholt told me. “There are miles and miles of roads that would be affected.”

Dicks and Murray say they will propose specific legislation after listening to the public. These meetings have been scheduled:

Port Townsend: Dec. 1, 5 to 7 p.m., Chapel Building, Fort Worden State Park Conference Center.

Shelton: Dec. 2, 5 to 7 p.m., Shelton Civic Center, 525 W. Cota Street.

Port Angeles: Dec. 3, 3 to 5 p.m., Museum at the Carnegie, 207 S. Lincoln St.

Hoquiam: Dec. 4, 3 to 5 p.m., Central Elementary School Library, 310 Simpson Ave.

David Dicks must live in his father’s shadow

UPDATE: Nov. 19
Readers may be interested in this commentary from Rep. Dave Upthegrove published Wednesday in the online Seattle PI. Upthegrove, a Democrat from Des Moines, was one of the principal authors of the legislation that created the Puget Sound Partnership.

In his statement, Upthegrove was complimentary of David Dicks:

During Dicks’ tenure at the helm of this new agency, he distinguished himself as a strong leader who was able to corral diverse interests to unite for a common goal: a healthy Puget Sound by 2020.


David Dicks will leave his post as executive director for the Puget Sound Partnership at the beginning of December to take a new position at the University of Washington’s College of the Environment. Check out my story in today’s Kitsap Sun.

To maintain David’s expertise on the partnership, Gov. Chris Gregoire has appointed him to the Puget Sound Leadership Council, the governing body of the organization.

From my perspective, David Dicks has been great to work with the past three years. Whenever I’ve had questions about something, he has taken time to explain things at great length. And his staffers were available at a moment’s notice. Even when the partnership ran into financial-management troubles with the State Auditor’s Office, David stepped up and explained how the problems occurred and what had been done to correct them.

Were all the answers about the audit complete and satisfactory? It’s hard to judge. But, as Sen. Phil Rockefeller told me yesterday, “David went through some tough times, and I think he emerged wiser and smarter. It’s a new day and a new ball game there now.”

I’m not sure David realized in 2007 what pressures he would be under when he took this high-profile job as the son of a U.S. congressman. It has been impossible for anyone to disprove the notion that he only got the job because he was Norm Dicks’ son.

His standing apart from his father was not helped by the fact that Norm was bringing big dollars into the state for Puget Sound restoration — even though Norm was doing that long before his son came on board and would have done that in any case.

David Dicks became the target for those who dislike his father’s politics as well as those who believe the Puget Sound Partnership is a waste of time and money.

The question remains: Given these circumstances, was it ever a good idea to appoint David Dicks to lead this new agency?
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Norm Dicks is dealt a new hand to play

U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks summed up his place in the next Congress by quoting former Seahawks coach Chuck Knox:

“You have to play the hand you are dealt.”

Norm Dicks

Norm Dicks, the Belfair Democrat, is well known for bringing home federal dollars to restore streams and estuaries throughout Puget Sound. Everywhere he goes, he’s patted on the back for the many restoration projects that seem to be improving conditions for fish and wildlife. After last week’s election, everyone from shellfish growers to Gov. Chris Gregoire must be wondering what will happen next to Puget Sound funding.

Norm told me after the election that he has always worked well with Republicans on the Interior and Defense appropriations subcommittees, the two bodies where he has recently served as chairman. (See my story in Sunday’s Kitsap Sun.) Before 2006, as ranking minority member of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, he helped launch an initiative to restore facilities in rundown national parks, an effort that continues to today.

Maybe Norm’s 34 years in the House gives him a special perspective, but he seems undaunted by House Republicans, who appear to be in no mood for major spending on programs like the national parks. To me, it looks like we’re going to have gridlock between the House, controlled by Republicans, and the Senate, controlled by Democrats.

Dicks wishes more voters nationwide would have recognized how many jobs were created by the federal stimulus package. He doesn’t think cutting taxes, as Republicans propose, will create many new jobs. And reducing the federal budget will cause layoffs — at least in government — with ripple effects in the economy.

On “60 Minutes” (9:42 into Part 1), correspondent Steve Kroft asked President Obama, “What can you do to create jobs that hasn’t already been done?”

Obama’s answer was not surprising:
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KUOW series raises questions about PS Partnership

KUOW reporter John Ryan’s hard-hitting series about Puget Sound Partnership concluded today with a look at the findings of the Washington State Auditor’s Office. Today’s piece, like the entire series, emphasizes the mix of state business and personal connections of Executive Director David Dicks and his father, U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks.

The first story focuses on a “whistle-blower” who brought allegations of impropriety to the attention of the state auditor; the second piece addresses David Dicks’ use of a state car; and the third deals with perceived conflicts of interest resulting from the senior Dicks funneling money to the Puget Sound Partnership.

No matter what you think of the Puget Sound Partnership, the series provides some important insights into the organization. I’m occupied by another project at the moment, but I’ll try to keep tabs on this issue and see how it plays out.

Norm Dicks and musings about political power

When I use the term “political power,” does it make you think of something good, bad or indifferent?

Like it or not, political power is what gets things done in our city councils, Legislature and Congress. Voting by qualified citizens is certainly one form of political power.

Whether Congress spends our money to fight wars or to restore the environment is a result of political power. Some would say we have no choice but to fight wars at key times in history. Others would argue that we have no choice but to save the Earth. But, of course, there are choices in how Congress spends our money.

I got to thinking about this after I wrote a story for today’s Kitsap Sun about U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks and his change in chairmanships in the House Appropriations Committee. Dicks will soon move from a position where he has a major say about environmental spending to a position where he will have a major say about Defense spending.

His predecessor on the Defense Appropriations Committee, Rep. John Murtha, held a reputation for wielding political power to bring federal projects to his home state of Pennsylvania.

Dicks enjoys a favorable reputation among environmentalists nationwide for his work on restoring national forests and national parks as well as his support for regulations to protect the environment. But Dicks is celebrated in his home state of Washington for his intense focus on our local forests and waterways.

That makes this Bremerton native a target for those who think our money is better spent on other things or not at all. I wonder how that perception will change when he becomes more focused on Defense issues, which attracts a more conservative constituency. That’s not to say that Dicks has not already wielded political power on defense issues, given the large number of military bases and defense-oriented companies in Washington.

For some reason, this very notion of political power seems a little distasteful, but it is how government gets things done — or not done. It is political power, after all, that the brings Republicans together in a solid block —without a single vote out of line — to block some of President Obama’s prize initiatives.

What actions would you like your government to take? As they say, political power is a little like sausage. We may not want to see the process that gets it done, but we can enjoy the result nonetheless.

I’m beginning to envision a free-flowing Elwha River

While covering the Elwha dams issue through the years, it always seemed to me that actual removal of the dams was like a tiny light at the end of a long tunnel.

“It seems like the light is getting a lot closer,” I said to U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks while interviewing him yesterday about $54 million in economic stimulus money coming to the project.

“Yes,” Dicks agreed, “it seems like we’re accelerating and almost to the end.”

As I described in a story in today’s Kitsap Sun, the $54 million will cover a variety of projects that need to be completed before the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams can come down. This infusion of money will allow bid requests to go out for dam deconstruction at the end of this year or early next year, and construction can get under way in 2011.

The Elwha project has been in the works since the early 1990s. Dicks says when dam removal gets started, it will be one of the most significant accomplishments of his 32-year career.

Without the dams, which have been blocking salmon migration, the fish should gain access to an estimated 70 miles of near-pristine habitat in Olympic National Park.

For more details about the project, check out:

Elwha Ecosystem Restoration on the National Park Service Web site

Restoring the Elwha River on American Rivers Web site