‘Pit-to-pier’ project appears dead

Thorndyke Resources had until Aug. 26 to file an appeal to a ruling, but no such appeal has been filed.

SHINE — The “pit-to-pier” project proposed near Shine on the Hood Canal appears to be dead after Poulsbo-based Thorndyke Resources dropped its appeal of a conservation easement granted by the state Department of Natural Resources.

In 2014, Hood Canal Sand and Gravel, doing business as Thorndyke Resources, filed a lawsuit challenging the easement, but in May 2015, the Jefferson County Superior Court ruled in favor of the easement.

In July, the state Court Appeals affirmed the ruling, and Hood Canal Sand and Gravel had until Aug. 26 to file an appeal to the state Supreme Court. According to the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on Thursday, no such appeal has been filed.

A federal lawsuit by Thorndyke Resources challenging the easement was dropped in September 2015.

Representatives of Thorndyke Resources, previously Hood Canal Sand and Gravel, did not respond to requests for comment Thursday.

“I think for the time being, we’ve won,” said John Fabian, the volunteer leader of the Hood Canal Coalition, which opposed the project.

“That is until some alternative plan is brought forward.”

The easement, which was purchased by the U.S. Navy in July 2014 for $720,000, was designed to protect Navy operations in the area while also protecting 4,804 acres of tidelands in Hood Canal, according to DNR.

In doing so, it blocked a proposal by Thorndyke Resources to build a 4-mile conveyor belt and 1,000-foot pier that would move gravel from an extraction sight near the former Fred Hill Materials Shine pit to barges in the Hood Canal.

The proposal dates back to 2002 and was almost immediately opposed by the Hood Canal Coalition.

The grass-roots organization, co-founded by Fabian, was concerned that the project would not only endanger the environment but also threaten the safety of the Hood Canal Bridge.

“You can imagine the scale we’re talking about here,” Fabian said.

“What was planned could have easily been one of the largest single structures on the Olympic Peninsula,” he said.

“It would have brought huge barges, the kind they send through the Panama Canal, through the Hood Canal Bridge, which would’ve been a disaster. Not to mention the environmental damage it could’ve caused.”

The easement is now locked in place for 50 years, according to Joe Smillie, DNR communications manager.

“We think it’s a good deal for the state,” Smillie said.

“It protects a really vibrant shellfish bed and the surrounding ecosystem, and that’s what we were going for.”

Fabian said with the easement in place, it is unlikely that Thorndyke Resources would be able to come up with a new proposal, but he added that he wouldn’t be surprised to see it.

“Really, time will tell,” Fabian said.

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Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5550, or at cmcfarland@peninsuladailynews.com.

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