Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe Spurs Cooperative Clean Up Of Elwha River Dumping Ground

PORT ANGELES (Jan. 24,2006) – Like many places on the Olympic Peninsula, a chunk of Elwha River floodplain west of Port Angeles had become a dumping ground for derelict cars and garbage that also attracted criminal activity.

“We do a lot of fish surveys in the lower river and we noticed about three summers ago that area had become a four-wheel drive playground and a dumping ground for derelict vehicles and household garbage,” said Raymond Moses, project biologist for the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe. “TVs, motorcycle and car parts, appliances and all manner of household garbage from the area were getting washed downstream from the site during high flows.”

An abandoned private residence in the area was a magnet for parties, trash and even possible drug manufacturing. Adding to the difficulties of addressing the problem is the patchwork land ownership in the area. Private timber company Green Crow, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), and the City of Port Angeles all own property in the site.

The tribe sought help from the landowners to install a gate to restrict access and clean up the site. “We didn’t get any assistance from the WDFW land management division for assistance to clean up or provide solutions to the problem,” said Mike McHenry, fisheries habitat manager for the tribe. “Green Crow, however stepped up and shared the cost with the tribe to install a locked gate to restrict vehicle access last summer. That has prevented any new dumping.”

Tribal fisheries technicians recently corralled 11 junk vehicles into a central area for removal by a tow truck. The entire cost of towing the vehicles to the scrap yard was paid for by the tribe.

Green Crow will work with the City of Port Angeles to remove additional garbage on the site, said Dennis Yakovich, manager of Green Crow properties.

The tribe hopes that WDFW and Clallam County would consider creating a parking area in the vicinity to help provide foot access to fishing spots. “Our objective was to stop the dumping and floodplain damage, not to prevent people from fishing. It’s a short walk from the gate to fish, but a designated parking area would be great,” said McHenry. “The one-way bridge near the site will be replaced in 2006 and represents an excellent opportunity to provide such facilities.”


For more information, contact: Raymond Moses, fisheries project biologist, Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, (360) 457-4012, ext 26; Mike McHenry, fisheries habitat manager, Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe; Debbie Preston, coastal information officer, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commisson,(360) 374-5501