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Nisqually Delta Association
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Welcome to the ethereal home of the Nisqually Delta Association. The Nisqually Delta Association, (NDA to her friends), was founded in 1970. Back then, the hot shoreline topics were a proposed shipping port on the Thurston County side of Nisqually Reach, and a proposed Shorelines Management Act (SMA). The SMA started as citizen's initiative, and passed into law in 1972. The shipping port was stopped when public outrage at the proposal motivated the County Commissioners to decide it was a bad idea.
NDA and the fight to SAVE NISQUALLY!
In the mid 1970's, the Nisqually Delta Association responded to a proposal to build a "super port" on the Pierce County side of the Nisqually Reach, along what by then was a "Shoreline of Statewide Significance", granted special protections by the SMA. Weyerhaeuser Corporation had announced plans to build an industrial port along that most significant shoreline, adjacent to what was then becoming a National Wildlife Refuge. Nisqually Delta Association harnessed the grassroots concern, and mounted a legal challenge when dock's permits came up for review.
That legal challenge started before the Shorelines Hearings Board (a body created by the SMA), and continued through the judicial system, all the way to State Supreme Court a dozen years later. It was a tough case, which the court couldn't settle on first review. On the second go round, the court allowed the dock, but restricted it's use to those disclosed in the Environmental Impact Statement. Both sides declared victory. In the end, that dock was never built.
Years later, (in the early 1990's), a new port facility was proposed, this time intending to ship gravel. Nisqually Delta Association again prepared to fight, and the sides again appeared before the Shorelines Hearings Board. This time both sides agreed to try and mediate a solution. That effort resulted in an award-winning plan to allow an industrial port, but move it off the "Shoreline of Statewide Significance", and a mile and a half further away from the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge.
People on all sides of the issue hailed the Settlement Agreement in 1994 as win-win, that seemed to protect the environmental resources while allowing a potentially damaging industrial use nearby. Black Hills, Tahoma, Seattle and the National Audubon Society chapters, People for Puget Sound, Washington Environmental Council, and Friends of Anderson Island joined in settlement discussions, and in the end signed that historic "Settlement Agreement for Lone Star Northwest DuPont Project".
Today's News From Nisqually
Many believed the 1994 agreement, (which allowed a gravel loading dock over a mile further from the mouth of the Nisqually River), amounted to real victory in a struggle of more than two decades. Efforts to "Save Nisqually" seemed to have succeeded.
The Agreement reads in part: "Through the mediation sessions, a new vision for the DuPont shoreline has emerged, which if implemented, will end the long-standing disputes… It is the desire of the parties to reach a lasting settlement."
NOW, some thirteen years after that "Settlement Agreement" was signed, Glacier Northwest, the mining successor to Lone Star, produced an Environmental Impact Statement for a proposed mine expansion, and a "North Sequalitchew Creek Project"
Glacier's plan? Expand the mine permitted in 1994 to the east towards the City, and south into Sequalitchew Creek, as way to cheaply dewater the local aquifer. In return? A promise of a salmon stream somewhere in the future.
The dewatering threatens to shrink the Class I wetlands of Edmond's Marsh, on the upper Sequalitchew. The trenching to get there threatens to deform the canyon that once brought settlers from the banks of the Puget Sound up to Fort Nisqually on the prairie.
The banks of Sequalitchew Creek saw many "firsts" for Puget Sound's earliest European settlers. Those with an interest in preserving that history negotiated an agreement with Weyerhaeuser in 2001 to allow the eventual establishment of a National Historic District.
Sequalitchew Creek, long recognized as the most ecologically diverse plant and animal communities in the City of Dupont. Today Sequalitchew Canyon is the a keystone of a future park and historic district that might one day be a tourist destination.
The 1994 agreement pledged to keep the mine 200 feet from the shoreline of Puget Sound and Sequalitchew Creek. "[ O ]r within 100 feet of the top of the bank of Sequalitchew Creek." Or in a manner impacting the flow of Sequalitchew Creek.
Look at the shorelines of Nisqually Reach today, and recognize it is a landscape that would have been forever altered by industry were it not for the efforts of dedicated citizens. Today there is a new chance for citizens to lead towards a better plan.