Tag Archives: Thorndyke Resource

Navy easement could block industry on Hood Canal

An easement requested by the Navy to prevent industrial development along the western shoreline of Hood Canal appears to be the first of its kind in Washington state.

One can envision this easement as a strip of underwater area from the Hood Canal bridge south to a spot just south of the Jefferson-Mason County line near Eldon, as I described in a Kitsap Sun story on May 15.


In most areas, the protected bedlands will be defined by their depths, from 18 feet below the average low tide to 70 feet down. More than 4,000 acres of state-owned bedlands would be covered by the easement.

“The practical effect of the agreement will be to preclude new near-shore commercial or industrial construction along the areas of the Hood Canal and neighboring waterways managed by DNR where the Navy operates,” states a joint press release issued by the Navy along with the Washington Department of Natural Resources.

It was quickly recognized that this could mean the end of the controversial pit-to-pier project for loading gravel onto ships and barges. If the developer, Thorndyke Resource, is unable to obtain a state lease for the proposed pier, the project would be dead in the water. The company, which has been working on the project for years, does not intend to give up without a fight.

Since the story first came out, the Navy has been preparing to conduct an appraisal, which will involve hiring an independent contractor, according to Liane Nakahara, spokeswoman for Navy Region Northwest. Once the appraisal work begins, it will take at least a couple months to complete, she said. Then the Navy and DNR must each approve the appraisal results.

I can’t imagine how difficult it will be to estimate how much money the state could lose by locking up this strip of underwater area for decades. If the pit-to-pier project were a certainty, then it would be easier to figure out how much revenue the state would lose by blocking that one lease. But what would be the probability of the pit-to-pier project getting all the required permits if the easement were not a factor?

What other types of development would be foreclosed by the Navy’s easement along Hood Canal, and where might these projects be located? If one could assume that the Jefferson County shoreline of Hood Canal would never be developed with marinas or piers anyway, then the loss would be zero and the Navy’s easement would be cheap. These are the questions that will drive an appraiser crazy.

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Pit-to-pier project receives a financial infusion

A new Canadian partner in the proposed pit-to-pier project on Hood Canal will bring experience and needed money to the project, according to Alex Hill, president of the company that will remain in charge.

The proposal continues through the permitting process in Jefferson County, where an environmental impact statement is being drafted for the project.

Athabasca Minerals, Inc., will put up $3 million and gain a 25 percent interest in Thorndyke Resource, which was created by the Fred Hill family to own and operate the pit-to-pier project. See the story we posted on the Kitsap Sun’s Web site this morning.

Completion of the partnership between Thorndyke Resource and Athabasca is subject to regulatory approval in Canada, approval by Athabasca’s board of directors, verification of the gravel resource and other conditions.

To read more, check out the news release from Athabasca, a company traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange, and the one released by officials associated with Fred Hill Materials (PDF 44 kb).