The board of the NPBA authorized the establishment of a committee to further investigate the possibility of a suit. The committee currently includes Port Angeles businessman Kaj Ahlburg, attorney Christina Nelson-Gross, Rick Gross, McCarry and NPBA Executive Director FaLeana Wech.
They are awaiting a decision from the Washington Supreme Court on a case involving the Swinomish Tribe and the Washington Department of Ecology. It’s anticipated the ruling will have a significant impact on the Dungeness Rule.
The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community is arguing that Ecology wrongly extended water rights when it made water available for residential construction in certain portions of Skagit County. They say Ecology acted illegally when it invoked a portion of the law that allows the agency to make water decisions based on an “overriding consideration of public interest.”
The tribes say in so doing Ecology has reduced the amount of water available for salmon populations.
In the Dungeness basin Ecology has invoked the same legal authority to create “reserves” of water that will be in place to ensure development doesn’t come to an immediate halt.
McCarry said that while proponents of the Dungeness suit are prepared to take action, they currently are collecting pledges rather than cash.
“We’re testing the waters to see if there’s interest from the public.”
“Right now the interest is strong,” he said. “I’m feeling pretty good about moving forward.”
So far the committee has raised $20,000 toward the effort to file a lawsuit. They say they need $100,000.
McCarry said a new, separate organization will be formed and will operate as a self-sufficient 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
For more information, call McCarry at 360-697-3087 or see www.olympicresourcepc.org.