Suquamish Tribe wins land use case at George’s Corner

Legal victory safeguards Tribe’s Grovers Creek Hatchery

Kitsap County must comply by Dec. 20

By Melody Allen

George’s Corner is a rural crossroads development located 1.5 miles west of Kingston, Washington, at the intersection of Hansville Road and State Route 104 in northern Kitsap County.   Under the State of Washington’s Growth Management Act (GMA), George’s Corner is a special land use designation called a “Limited Area of More Intense Rural Development” (LAMIRD).  When the GMA was passed in 1990, State legislators recognized the presence of small commercial development pockets that primarily serve the local rural community where there might be a gas station, store and restaurant.  The purpose of the GMA LAMIRD requirements and designation is to provide a tool for local governments to legally define the boundaries of pre-existing urban uses before July 1, 1990 that allows those uses to continue within the LAMIRD boundaries while at the same time placing constraints on future urban sprawl outside these designated boundaries into rural lands.  The George’s Corner LAMIRD boundaries were established in 2004 and encompass specific portions of each of the four corners at the crossroads.

In 2018, Kitsap County proposed to expand the southeast corner of the George’s Corner LAMIRD that would allow development to encroach closer to critical wetland areas associated with Grovers Creek.  George’s Corner is located in the Grovers Creek Watershed and contains a wetland system associated with Grovers Creek that drains to Miller Bay where the Tribe operates the Grovers Creek Hatchery, a Chinook and chum salmon hatchery.   Grovers Creek has unique features which make it particularly sensitive to contaminates found in stormwater draining from impervious surfaces.

Impacts to Grovers Creek from increased development, increased traffic, and urbanization directly impact the hatchery as evidenced by poor water quality and low or no water quantity flowing to the hatchery between mid-May to September.  During that time, surface water from Grovers Creek is unusable for rearing salmonids due to its poor quality.  These impacts, specific to Kitsap County between 2006 and 2011, are well documented in the Suquamish Tribe’s Chapter in The 2016 State of Our Watersheds, A Report by Treaty Tribes in Washington. Impervious surface increases associated with the George’s Corner LAMIRD were identified as impacting stream conditions.

Several years ago, the Tribe joined the National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration and Washington State University in a study that exposed Grovers Creek Hatchery coho salmon to urban runoff collected from a Highway 520 drain.  Every coho exposed to the runoff died.  Some died within a few hours, but all died within one day.  The surprising results of this study raised awareness of the link between urban stormwater runoff and salmon survival and the need to address stormwater runoff that drains to salmon-bearing waters.

The Fisheries Department and Chairman Leonard Forsman filed comments in opposition to the County’s proposed LAMIRD expansion expressing concerns about increased commercial land use intensity in an area that is in close proximity to Grovers Creek, which is listed as an Endangered Species Act-listed salmon-bearing stream with important habitat, concerns about potential impacts to the Tribe’s Grovers Creek Hatchery, and concerns about impacts to the Tribe’s treaty-reserved resources.

Despite the Tribe’s repeated requests to the County to withdraw the proposed action to expand the LAMIRD, the Kitsap County Board of County Commissioners adopted the County staff’s recommendations and removed a portion of undeveloped land from the southern portion of the LAMIRD and expanded commercial development beyond the original LAMIRD boundary to the east, on lands closest to Grovers Creek that include wetlands and a steep slope.  This expansion would allow further commercial activity in close proximity to the steep slope and Grovers Creek that would cause further negative impacts to the water quality of Grovers Creek and the Grovers Creek Hatchery from stormwater runoff draining from impervious surfaces and other environmental impacts.

In February 2019, the Tribe’s Office of Tribal Attorney filed an appeal with the Central Puget Sound Growth Management Hearings Board (Growth Board) challenging the validity of Section 14(3) of Kitsap County Ordinance 565-2018 and its compliance with the GMA LAMIRD provisions and GMA goals designed to protect the environment and water quality and to prevent urban sprawl in rural lands.  The Tribe requested the Growth Board to declare that the County’s action was clearly erroneous, failed to comply with the GMA, and requested the Growth Board to issue an order of invalidity, a discretionary enforcement tool available to the Growth Board.

In August 2019, the Growth Board agreed with the Tribe and found that the LAMIRD boundary adjustment failed to comply with the LAMIRD statutory requirements for setting boundaries that are a one-time recognition of existing 1990 areas and uses.  The Growth Board also found that the County improperly acted to meet real or perceived needs for additional commercial lands beyond the original 2004 LAMIRD boundaries and failed to contain low-density sprawl by perpetuating a pattern of low-density sprawl that substantially interfered with the GMA goals that are designed to concentrate urban growth in urban areas and protect the environment and enhance the state’s high quality of life.  The Growth Board remanded Section 14(3) of Ordinance 565-2018 to the County to take action to comply with the GMA and declared Section 14(3) invalid in its entirety.  The Growth Board has set a compliance schedule that requires the County to comply with its Order by December 20, 2019 and file a Compliance Report/Statement of Actions Taken to Comply.   The Tribe will continue its legal role in these compliance actions while continuing technical, legal, and policy efforts to protect treaty-reserved rights and critical habitat for the next seven generations.

2019 Holiday Tree Lighting

Suquamish Tribe dedicates new dive boat

In emotional ceremony, Tribe names ship after icon of Suquamish diving community

Members of the Suquamish Tribe welcomed the newest member of the Suquamish Seafood Enterprises fleet in a dockside dedication ceremony Thursday morning.
The F/V Carriere will serve as the flagship for the Tribe’s geoduck harvesting operations.
“This is a really big great day, not just for our company and our divers, but for the Tribe and the community,” said Suquamish Seafood’s general manager Tony Forsman, opening up the dedication ceremony. “We have members who aren’t even born yet who will be using this boat. This is what takes us into the next generation in a safe, efficient and good way.”
The 49-foot aluminum dive boat is powered by twin diesel engines and is equipped with a suite of compressors that pump air to two divers at a time. Built by Lee Shore Boats in Port Angeles, the nearly $1 million vessel was paid for in part through a grant by the Native American Agricultural Fund.
The ship is named after Jeff Carriere, a living legend in the Suquamish diving community who has served as a diver, tender, and dive boat skipper across decades of work with the Tribe.
The name of the ship was unveiled during Thursday’s ceremony. Carriere, who did not know the ship was being named after him, was overcome with emotion as a crew member peeled away a mask to reveal the name.

Carriere said he was overwhelmed with gratitude at the honor.
Carriere had helped design the new dive boat and was set to be its skipper before health issues forced an early retirement, said Jim Boure, Suquamish Seafoods Dive services manager. “His fingerprints are all over the design of this boat and now he’ll be with us every time we go out.”
Suquamish Seafood Enterprises, which is owned by the Suquamish Tribe, contracts Tribal divers to harvest geoduck from local waters. The business harvests and markets approximately 420,000 lbs. of wild geoduck each year.
Geoduck is a large clam considered a delicacy throughout much of Asia and is enjoying growing popularity in western markets.

Kitsap Sun Column: Poulsbo shooting must lead to better understanding

By Suquamish Tribal Council

(Original Kitsap Sun posting here. Reprinted with permission.)

A month after the shooting death of Stonechild Chiefstick – as the Suquamish community has finally put him to rest – we remain shocked and saddened by this killing. Chiefstick was a much-loved member of our community whose children live here on the Port Madison Indian Reservation.

Chiefstick died on July 3 during an encounter with the Poulsbo Police Department amidst crowds gathered to watch fireworks at the city’s Waterfront Park. In spite of this tragic shooting mere minutes earlier, the city of Poulsbo went ahead with the celebration as scheduled.

Hours later, the family created an altar at the site of the killing, where those who loved Chiefstick offered expressions of grief and loss. Dozens of family members, Tribal members, and supporters gathered for an impromptu candle light vigil on July 6, offering songs, prayers, and remembrances.

Yet on July 20, we learned this sacred site had been desecrated, creating still more heartbreak.

These events are tragic, but far from unique. Members of our Tribe, from school age through esteemed elders, report incidents of hostility and discrimination when shopping, attending school, or being stopped by police in Poulsbo and other parts of North Kitsap County. Nor is the vandalism of a sacred memorial unique. In 2000, the grave of Chief Seattle was vandalized. Until recently, the road signs welcoming visitors to our home and sovereign reservation were riddled with bullet holes. Encountering racist graffiti and racial slurs are part of growing up as Tribal members.

Nationwide, Native Americans are the most likely of any demographic group to be shot and killed by police, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Native people are three times more likely to die at the hands of police than are white people. Across Indian Country, families grieve loved ones taken from them too soon. Just as happens in the African-American community, some die because they don’t dare to turn to law enforcement when they need protection for fear that they will become the victims. Others die from direct assault by the police, like the deaf woodcarver, John T Williams, who was shot by Seattle Police in 2010.

Even for those who haven’t personally lost a loved one, Native people and other people of color are painfully aware of the long history of violence directed against them across the generations, creating a pervasive historic trauma that infuses all aspects of community life.

We can do better in this region. We must do better.

For those who want to know what they can do, ask yourself, your neighbors, your faith group, your school board, your police, and your city officials to make the hard choice to become agents of positive change, to make the honorable decision to always call out racism in all its ugly forms, and to rebuke anything or anyone that would shorten or further traumatize the lives of Native Americans and other people of color.

The Suquamish Tribe and the City of Poulsbo have maintained a productive government-to-government relationship for more than a decade now. This is a good beginning. But it is only a beginning.

We anticipate holding government-to-government discussions with City Council members regarding the events surrounding the killing of Chiefstick and measures the City of Poulsbo is taking to fully adhere to the terms of the voter-approved Initiative 940 and the new laws now codified with the passage of House Bill 1064.

If fully implemented, we believe these measures can help reduce police shootings, especially those involving racial profiling and the mentally ill, via training in de-escalation, mental health, and cultural competency. The Suquamish Tribe provides funding to Poulsbo Police and other state and local law enforcement for equipment and training designed to improve the safety of their officers and communities. We are expecting renewed assurances this funding is being used to reduce harm to human life, as intended.

We look forward to the conclusion of the independent commission investigating the incident and hope to learn:

  • What led the police to use deadly force rather than any of the many non-lethal methods available to a trained and well-equipped police force
  • What led to the decision to discharge a weapon in a crowd of people, including many families and young children
  • Whether law enforcement authorities will make an objective determination about whether to prosecute this shooting.
  • What role racial profiling may have played in the incident

Nothing can bring Stonechild Chiefstick back to us and to his family. Nevertheless, we call on the community to come together to stop the needless killings and maiming of Native Americans, other people of color, and those suffering from mental illness.

We rely on police for our safety. Nonetheless, we are looking to city and law enforcement leaders to set a standard of respect for all members of the community, regardless of their race or heritage. Perhaps, with the right sort of leadership, the death of Stonechild Chiefstick can become a catalyst for the kind of change needed to create a community that is not only safe, secure, and sustaining for all its residents, but also becomes a standard of success for other communities to follow.

The Suquamish Tribal Council is a seven-member elected body that represents the Suquamish Tribe, led by Chairman Leonard Forsman. 

2019 Canoe Journey Schedule

Giveaway Workshops

Thursdays, 10am-6pm – Culture Activities Office, Old Tribal Center on Sandy Hook.

Canoes Arrive in Suquamish

July 19, afternoon – Charles Lawrence Boat Ramp

Tribal Journey Protocol

July 19, 7pm — House of Awakened Culture

July 20, 6pm – House of Awakened Culture

Canoes depart for Tulalip

July 21, morning – Charles Lawrence Boat Ramp

Canoes pull from Tulalip to Swinomish

July 22

Canoes pull from Swinomish to Samish

July 23

Canoes pull from Samish to Lummi

July 24

Lummi Hosts

July 24-28

For Suquamish Hosting Vendors

Download Vendor Application here.

Suquamish Tribe announces intent to sue U.S. Navy

The Suquamish Tribe announced its intention to sue the U.S. Navy for repeatedly releasing raw sewage into the Puget Sound.

In a letter dated June 10, the Tribe gives military officials 60-days’ notice of the Tribe’s intent to file a lawsuit under the Clean Water Act, which prohibits discharging pollutants without a permit.

According to public records currently available to the Tribe, the Navy discharged hundreds of thousands of gallons of untreated sewage from Naval Base Kitsap in repeated incidents over the past five years and beyond.

Some of these spills continued unchecked for weeks and even months. One lasted for more than four years. Some of these spills had been previously announced by the Navy. Others had not.

“The waters of the Sinclair Inlet and the entire Salish Sea are the Tribe’s most treasured resource. We are obliged to protect these waters, not only for us but for all who rely on them for work, recreation, and identity,” said Suquamish Tribe Chairman Leonard Forsman.

“We ask the Navy to uphold the highest standards of protection for Liberty Bay, Dyes Inlet, Sinclair Inlet, Port Orchard Passage, and all the water ways that support both human and marine life. We call on the Navy to invest in the infrastructure necessary to support their operations.”

The 60-day notice is addressed to Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, Navy Secretary Richard Spencer, Naval Base Kitsap Commander Capt. Edward Schrader, and Puget Sound Naval Shipyard Commander Capt. Howard Markle.

“We value and respect the service of our local Sailors and Marines, and we treasure the relationship we enjoy with the wider U.S. Military and veteran communities,” said Forsman. “However, the dumping of sewage waste into Puget Sound must stop.”

The Tribe notified the Navy that it is responsible for at least eleven significant illegal discharges of untreated sewage into Tribe’s treaty-protected fishing areas, including several discharges that occurred over multiple weeks or years.

For example, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard illegally discharged 80,000 gallons of untreated sewage between July 30, 2018 and August 13, 2018 when a sanitary sewer line clogged and flowed into a stormwater line and then directly to Sinclair Inlet.
Another example: A sewer line leak caused about 1,500 gallons of untreated sewage to dump into Liberty Bay daily from around December 18, 2017 extending well into 2018.

“These discharges have resulted from long-standing, system-wide problems with aging infrastructure at these naval installations, improper and inadequate training, improper and inadequate maintenance, repair, and replacement of this infrastructure, and other reasons known to you,” states the Tribe in its letter to Navy officials.

The Suquamish Tribe – known as “The People of the Clear Salt Water” in their Southern Lushootseed language – have fished and gathered shellfish in and near Puget Sound from time immemorial. The waters around Naval Base Kitsap make up much of the Tribe’s treaty-protected fishing and shellfish harvesting areas.

The Navy’s ongoing sewage discharges often result in the posting of health advisories and the closure of beaches where Suquamish tribal members harvest shellfish. Some sewage spills have prompted recalls of commercially sold shellfish. Other spills have interfered with the harvest and sale of salmon.

“This lawsuit is not just about how these dangerous spills affect the Suquamish Tribe,” said Forsman. “The entire Puget Sound community deserves clean water. The shellfish, the orca, and all sea life rely on clean water, and all of our children – and children’s children – deserve clean water.”

“This is why the Clean Water Act was created. It’s time for the Navy to obey the law and start protecting our waters right here at home,” said Forsman.

A Time to Gather - April 27 2019

Suquamish Foundation Announces Date for A Time to Gather

Please join us at the beautiful Kiana Lodge on Agate Passage for a springtime evening rich with friendship, fun, great food, music and entertainment and our exciting, signature auction event on April 27, 2019. Our auction features original traditional and contemporary Native art as well as our unique cultural experience items such as a local archaeology tour, an indigenous food cooking class or a canoe voyage around Agate Passage.

Thanks to the generosity of those who participated in our annual event in the past and are involved this year, we are able to continue to strengthen the cultural resurgence of the Suquamish Tribal community as well as the friendships of our fellow non-profits, neighbors, and visitors. We will journey into the future by honoring the past and we guarantee a payback of a brighter future to share.

The Suquamish Foundation, created in 2005, is the non-profit arm of the Suquamish Tribe and is dedicated to supporting the culture, education, environment, health and vitality of the Tribal community and its neighbors.  We completed the inspiring Building for Cultural Resurgence capital campaign that built our Suquamish Museum, Community House, Early Learning Center, Veteran’s Memorial, Health and Fitness Center, Community Ball Field and Community Dock. We also award over $300,000 annually to schools and non-profit organizations that serve Kitsap County.

To purchase tickets to our annual fundraising event, visit the foundation online by clicking here or contact Margeaux Lewis at or by phone at (360)394-8453. Tickets go on sale by February 15, 2019.