Kara Cardinal, a marine project manager and Katie Wrubel, who is on a fellowship with the Nature Conservancy, reviewed the project for the MRC and led the workshop. The two will add local input to the information they have already received from the Pacific County, Grays Harbor County and North Pacific County’s MRCs.
“We already have 25 pages of input to present to the state,” Cardinal said, “but at a recent Washington Coastal Marine Advisory Council meeting it was decided that we needed to incorporate Wahkiakum’s input in the official process.”
State legislators set up Washington Marine Spatial Planning to “ensure a resilient and healthy marine ecosystem on Washington’s coast that supports sustainable economic, recreational and cultural opportunities for coast communities, visitors and future generations.”
“What does that mean to your community?” Cardinal asked. “What kind of actions or projects or data would you like to see to make those decisions? We’re trying to help the state map out the process and to guide how the money is to be spent. How can the Nature Conservancy support what you are doing?”
“You might as well shoot for the moon as far as your input,” she added. “It’s an opportunity to be really specific about what you want to see come out of this.”
“The Nature Conservancy is going above and beyond to make sure the process is fleshed out and to get more feedback,” Carrie Backman, MRC Coordinator, said. “This helps amplify our voice a little more. They are helping relay our message back to the state.”
George Exum expressed concern about increased river traffic with the transport of fossil fuels like LNG, oil and coal.
“All that traffic is going to go through you spatial plan,” Exum said. “How will the increased maritime traffic impact the fishing grounds, commercial and recreational and the preserve areas?”
Increased traffic also increases the possibility of an oil spill said one person. “How would we prevent or respond to an oil spill?”
Others voiced concerns about dredging.
“If the state is really concerned about ecosystems they would dredge the rivers where the salmon spawn,” Paula Culbertson said.
“One of the problems with this whole scenario is that the Army Corps has dug the main stem deeper,” Exum added. “Every tributary, every side channel has sloughed in. Their dredging has cost us.”
“Thus they have affected access to resources,” echoed Cardinal.
“We protect resources that go upstream. What about the stuff that is coming downstream?” Bob Kizziar wondered, speaking specifically of Hanford.
“There is a whole lot of stuff coming downstream,” Exum said.
River predators and the time line for local fishermen who are required to follow the Kitzhaber Plan were other issues on the minds of the people at the meeting.
“If we don’t plan for our future, someone will do it for us,” Backman said.
Cardinal and Wrubel will take the input they collected and continue to collect data and comments for the rest of the year, at which point they will begin to work with others on formulating a plan that will be presented to the state in 2016.
To add input, contact a representative from the Wahkiakum County Marine Resources Committee.