Jan 31, 2017 - Courts Side with Quinault Nation over ownership of Lake Quinault
TAHOLAH, WA (1/30/17)– The Washington State Court of Appeals in Seattle issued a decision Monday rejecting the latest attempt by a handful of property owners to deprive the Quinault Indian Nation of jurisdiction over Lake Quinault. The decision affirms a March 2016 opinion issued by the Thurston County Superior Court and concurs with a federal court ruling the year before that.
North Quinault Properties, a non-profit established late in 2014, had alleged that Lake Quinault is a “public trust resource” owned by the State of Washington pursuant to the State Constitution. Thus they claimed the State has a duty to ensure unlimited access to the Lake. They also claimed the Nation had no stake in the lawsuit, and that the “status” of the Lake could be decided in the Nation’s absence. The Court saw no merit in those arguments, noting that “It is uncontested that the Nation claims an interest in the subject of this action: Lake Quinault. The treaty and executive order, both of which predate Washington statehood, evidence this claim.”
“These allegations have consistently failed in court because they just aren’t true,” said Quinault Nation President Fawn Sharp. “Quinault Nation owns Lake Quinault, so of course we have a stake in it,” said Sharp. “Lake Quinault always has been and always will be part of the Nation’s Reservation. These landowners have been upset because Quinault Nation has taken steps which have been necessary to protect the lake. The Nation will always take every step necessary to protect our land and waters and our rights and oppose any attempt to diminish or undermine our interests,” said Sharp.
“We wish to acknowledge the many land owners who support Quinault Nation’s ownership, jurisdiction and management of the lake. We deeply appreciate their support and value the positive relationship we have with them,” she said.
“The Quinault Nation has done an excellent job of managing and protecting Lake Quinault. It is sacred to us and although we are willing to share it, we will not tolerate abuse or misuse of it. Lake Quinault is an essential component for the survivability of our salmon species including the Quinault Blueback. We will always fight to keep Lake Quinault pure and clean for today and for the generations to come,” said President Sharp.
Steve Robinson (360) 951-2494