Rep. Buck’s letter

FOLLOWING IS THE text of a letter written last month by Rep. Jim Buck, R-Joyce, to Rep. John McCoy, D-Marysville.

McCoy is the state House of Representatives’ liaison between the lower chamber and tribes in the state, and was asked to participate in a meeting between North Olympic Peninsula lawmakers and the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe.

Dear Representative McCoy,

Thank you for offering to help try to find a solution to the graving yard impasse in Port Angeles. These are my thoughts and my thoughts only.

If there is any interest in a solution along these lines it will take a lot of legal and legislative work. We will need to move pretty fast, and I understand that makes tribal members uneasy.

As you know, WSDOT [Washington State Department of Transportation] failed to recognize that it would need help from the City of Port Angeles, the Port of Port Angeles and Clallam County to deal with the needs of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe (LEKT).

The local governments offered WSDOT and the LEKT the combined bipartisan political support of the North Olympic Peninsula to find a suitable place for reinterment of the remains, support for completion of the archaeology and a curation facility for the study and display of the recovered artifacts.

The local governments understood that WSDOT could not use gas tax money to pay for these facilities, and that legislative action would be required. This offer was made in November of 2003.

WSDOT and the LEKT agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding in March of 2004 which permitted archaeology and recovery of remains to proceed along with construction of the graving yard.

This happened after the end of the 2004 Legislative session so there was no opportunity to include appropriations because no one knew how big a piece of property would be needed or how big a curation facility should be built.

Unfortunately, neither the LEKT nor WSDOT contacted the local governments for help as the project moved through the summer and into the fall.

The LEKT was concerned they would not have enough time to move all of their ancestors, and WSDOT was concerned about not meeting their schedule.

Finally, LEKT asked WSDOT to leave the site and WSDOT agreed.

These actions led to an impasse between the LEKT, who insists the site be used for reinterment of remains, and the local governments, who insist that a settlement be reached that provides for the completion of the project.

This letter is intended to provide a suggestion to end the impasse.

The LEKT reservation rests on two widely separated pieces of land separated by Department of Natural Resources (DNR) transfer land near the mouth of the Elwha River. The DNR manages blocks of land in Section 33 and 34 which total 320 acres. The estimated value of the lands and timber is $4,070,000.

The Port of Port Angeles owns somewhere between 4 and 9 acres of land west of the graving yard site and up to 18 acres of land east of the graving yard site.

I propose that the State of Washington offer some combination of the following in exchange for the right to complete the graving yard project:

* 1. Washington to transfer the 320 acres in Sections 33 and 34 to the LEKT to join the two parts of the reservation.

* 2. Washington to purchase from the Port of Port Angeles a suitable sized parcel of property east or west of the graving yard site for re-interment of remains and a curation facility.

* 3. Washington to make a capital budget appropriation for design and construction of a curation facility.

* 4. Washington to make a general fund appropriation for completion of the archaeology and completion of removal of remains from the site.

I am sorry that this project has had such an unpleasant impact on the communities of the Olympic Peninsula. Please feel free to discuss the proposal with Chairman [Frances G.] Charles and the LEKT Council, elders and community.

I hope this offer to resolve the situation is considered with the good will with which it is presented. Thank you again for offering to help, and I look forward to hearing about your discussions.

Best wishes,

Jim Buck

More in News

Port Angeles High School graduates, from left, Uri Crawford, Samantha Combs and Jordan McTear, decorate a vehicle in preparation for Friday’s graduation parade from Ediz Hook to the high school. Dozens of adorned cars and trucks carried grads through the streets of Port Angeles as a lead-up to the graduation ceremony that evening at Civic Field. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Congrats, grads!

Port Angeles High School graduates, from left, Uri Crawford, Samantha Combs and… Continue reading

Dash Air to leave Port Angeles

‘Nothing to do’ with viability of air service, owner says

Clallam County art barn to get new roof before fair

Commissioners approve $85,000 contract with company from Kent

Sequim schools drop proposal to bump back start time

Survey respondents prefer to keep Greywolf Elementary at 8:30 a.m.

Sequim chamber to host tax credit event

The Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce will host a family… Continue reading

Scheduled Hood Canal bridge closures canceled

Overnight closures of the Hood Canal bridge on state Highway… Continue reading

Weekly flight operations scheduled

There will be field carrier landing practice operations for aircraft… Continue reading

KEITH THORPE/PENINSULA DAILY NEWS
Three-year-old Archie Hanson takes a spin on a merry-go-round pushed by his mother, Justine Hanson of Port Angeles, with sister Arlene Hanson 7 months, during Sunday's grand reopening of the Dream Playground at Erickson Playfield in Port Angeles. The playground was rebuilt earlier this month by volunteers after an arson fire destroyed much of the playground equipment in December. Although there are still details to attend to and minor adjustments to be made, the facility will be open daily from dawn until dusk.
Grand reopening at Dream Playground

Three-year-old Archie Hanson takes a spin on a merry-go-round pushed by his… Continue reading

Wind returns for Day 3 of Race to Alaska

Teams pushing north along Vancouver Island

Port Townsend pool on track to open in July

Task force favors Chimacum Park for replacement

‘Positive support’ shown for Recompete grant

Port of PA extends lease with Homeland Security