Partnership creates state park on Swinomish tribal land

After more than 50 years, Kiket Island has been returned to the Swinomish Tribe, thanks to a partnership between the tribe and the state Parks and Recreation Commission.

The small island in Similk Bay is within the boundaries of the Swinomish reservation. It was was allotted to a tribal member in the late 1800s and passed out of tribal ownership in the 1950s. A nuclear power plant was planned for the site in the late 1960s, but concerns about the environment and fisheries won out and the plans were scrapped.

The Swinomish Tribe and state Parks and Recreation Commission bought Kiket Island this month with state and federal grants, and private donations. The state and tribe have a joint interest in preserving the island’s old-growth forest and intact shoreline inhabited by eelgrass and a variety of shellfish, fish and crustaceans.

The tidelands around the island will continue to be owned by the United States in trust for the tribe. Only tribal members will be able to harvest shellfish there.

“Generations of Swinomish tribal members haven’t been able to harvest shellfish from Kiket Island,” said Lorraine Loomis, fisheries manager for the tribe. “This partnership will allow us to practice our treaty rights and also share a part of our reservation as a state park.”

The newly acquired 84 acres on Kiket Island, which includes the tiny peninsula Flagstaff Island, and 9 acres on Fidalgo Island will be jointly managed by the tribe and state and will be part of Deception Pass State Park.

For more information, contact: Emily Hutchinson, attorney, Swinomish Tribe, 360-466-3163 or [email protected]; Kari Neumeyer, information officer, NWIFC, 360-424-8226 or [email protected].