If you care about keeping the White Salmon free and beautiful clean and cold, we need you!! The Washington State Court of Appeals has set the hearing date for the Husum/BZ comprehensive plan for:
Monday, March 30, 2015, 10AM (arrive by 9:30AM)
HUDSON’S BAY HIGH SCHOOL, 1601 E McLoughlin Blvd, Vancouver, Wa
For those not familiar with the issue, in a nutshell it is:
Friends of the White Salmon River and the Friends of the Columbia Gorge challenged in court, Klickitat County’s proposed comprehensive plan for the Husum/BZ area. The plan would allow rezone of over 1,000 acres of land in the White Salmon River Valley from forest and farm to residential zoning with 1 and 2 acre minimum lot sizes. We contended the County violated state law in a variety of ways, and we won that argument in Superior Court. The County then appealed, so now we are at the Court of Appeals.
For a short history of the appeal and a map. see:
and for information on the victory in Superior Court, see:
We want the county to work with all stakeholders to plan for the future of the White Salmon River watershed, to preserve, protect and sustain the web of life in this place: humans, animals, fish, birds, plants, insects – all life.
Only attorneys and the judges will be speaking. There is no public input at this hearing, just public presence. Be at the school by 9:30 to make your way through. We plan to meet at the park and ride by the HR bridge at 7:30AM. There is a van available and people willing to carpool, so please contact:
firstname.lastname@example.org (208-867-9849) for transportation information
Washington State Court of Appeals Hearing
White Salmon: The Little River That Could
First a Dam Was Removed, and Now Residential Sprawl is Thwarted; Famous River Shows What’s Possible for Rivers Here, and Everywhere
Washington Superior Court Rules That Klickitat County Violated Constitutional Law, Property Rights Protections, and State Environmental Laws
Husum and BZ Corner Washington, June 11, 2013 – First the Condit Dam on the famous
White Salmon River was removed in 2012, and now, less than one year later, the river, citizens
and fish scored another big victory: blocking unchecked sprawl and hundreds of river- and
stream- side homes that could have imperiled returning salmon and their key habitat. By
enforcing state constitutional laws and state environmental laws, citizens of the region are
showing what’s possible for rivers here, and everywhere. Their work is ushering a new era of
river restoration and protection– one where a comprehensive approach to watershed management
is welcoming back native fish while also protecting local jobs for the long-term.
Friends of the White Salmon River and Friends of the Columbia Gorge led the challenge against
Klickitat County – a challenge that potentially benefits generations of Northwest residents. In a
case that was years in the making, Clark County Superior Court ruled that Klickitat County
violated the Washington State Constitution protections for private property and state
environmental laws. The violations are associated with a broad-scale rezoning that allowed
residential sprawl on over 1,000 acres of land along the Wild & Scenic White Salmon River. If
left unchecked, the sprawl would have likely added hundreds of homes on small two-acre lots.
This is the first court decision involving the future of the lands in the White Salmon River Valley
along the Wild & Scenic White Salmon River.!Superior Court Judge Barbara Johnson wrote: !
“The court concludes the County violated SEPA [State Environmental Policy Act]
by failing to prepare an EIS [Environmental Impact Statement] for this extensive
rezone, The County failed to adequately consider a reasonable range of
alternatives, failed to consider adverse Impacts, and improperly relied upon the
FFR Program [a mitigation banking scheme], which is incomplete and has never
been finalized as mitigation. The court also concludes the County unlawfully
delegated the right to individual landowners to upzone their land, and the RR-2
[Rural-Residential] overlay constitutes unlawful spot zoning.” (Letter from Judge
Barbara Johnson, Clark County Superior Court, May 27, 2013)
Pat Arnold, President of Friends of the White Salmon River, stated, “The County failed to ensure
that salmon and steelhead will be protected. Many stakeholders have spent countless hours and
millions of dollars to return fish to the river, and we need to do everything we can to protect this
valuable community asset.”
Plaintiffs challenged the county for passing zoning ordinances that spread development across
the landscape from Husum down to the former dam site and on both sides of the river in and
around BZ Corner. The decision would have allowed hundreds of new water wells and septic
systems threatening water supplies with depletion and pollution. Arnold explained, “This
decision gives us an opportunity to actually address how to protect existing water supplies,
private property and the key tributaries of the White Salmon River that are critical to fish and
wildlife. Now local landowners, residents, business owners, and conservation-minded people can
look forward to engaging with the County to develop a set of sustainable options to protect to
farmlands, forestlands and water supplies for the local community and returning salmon.”
Rick Till, Conservation Legal Advocate with the Friends of the Columbia Gorge, said “The
Lower White Salmon Wild and Scenic River is one of the natural gems of the Pacific Northwest.
The removal of Condit Dam freed the waters and brought back salmon to the Wild & Scenic
river corridor. The county turned a blind eye to this progress and sought to increase
development on lands near key White Salmon River tributaries with the highest quality spawning
habitats, as well as the newly restored section. We are thrilled to now have a fresh opportunity to
work with the Yakama Nation, the Forest Service, the local community and engage with the
county to protect this truly remarkable river.”
Ralph Bloemers, an attorney with the Crag Law Center who represented plaintiffs in court stated,
“The court ruled that the county violated constitutional due process and equal protection rights
given to landowners in the community designed to protect private property. The county violated
State law by ‘spot zoning’ farmland and unlawfully delegating to a select group of landowners in
the Wild & Scenic River corridor the right to increase development density by up to ten-fold.
The County now has an opportunity to start over and chose to work with the local community
and conservation groups, the Yakama Nation, state and federal agencies to develop alternatives
that protect wild fish, farmland and water supplies.”
While the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act gives the Forest Service authority over federal actions,
Klickitat County has authority to regulate private land use within the Wild and Scenic River
corridor. State law requires Klickitat County to involve the public in planning and consider the
impacts of new development on valuable farmland, fish and wildlife habitat, water supplies and
the White Salmon River. The county first proposed to increase the development on farm and
forestland along the river in 2007 by allowing up to 10 times the amount of development. The
county moved ahead despite opposition from the public, state and federal agencies and a lack of
scientifically reliable information on how sprawling residential development would harm fish
and wildlife in this scenic area. The broad-scale rezone increased development around the river
near BZ Corner and all the way from the rural center of Husum down to the former Condit Dam
site. (See: http://www.flickr.com/photos/86671569@N08/sets/72157631445570610/)
The dam removal restored salmon to historic spawning grounds and by bringing this river back
to its natural free-flowing state. The Court’s decision helps protect salmon and the astonishing
recovery process. The decision protects the source waters that flow in the tributaries and sub-
surface in this “gaining” river, which is a river that is fed by surrounding shallow aquifers, seeps,
springs and tributaries in what is a highly leaky hydro-geologic system. These are the very
values for which this Wild & Scenic River was designated. For further information, we have
attached the Motion for Partial Summary Judgment and the Reply brief from the docket and
referenced in the Judge’s initial order.
At the request of a group of local residents, Friends of the White Salmon filed an appeal of the
County’s rezoning plan covering land in and around BZ Corner and Husum to protect naturally
reproducing anadromous fish runs. At the hearing on this appeal, in 2009, nearly 100 local
residents, the Yakama Nation, agency representatives, local outfitters, and conservation groups
testified and submitted comments in opposition to the County’s plans. The Washington
Department of Fish and Wildlife and Department of Ecology submitted comments raising
questions about impacts to wildlife and water supplies.
Nonetheless the County moved ahead with its decision and an administrative hearing was held in
December 2010. Ralph Bloemers of the Crag Law Center (www.crag.org) worked with the
Friends of the White Salmon River and Friends of the Columbia Gorge to bring the
administrative appeal of the County’s decision. An administrative hearing was held. Mr.
Bloemers retained expert hydro-geologist Mark Yinger and wildlife biologist Ted Labbe to
advise the groups on the impacts to the river system. Mr. Yinger testified how the County’s plan
would rely on hundreds of new exempt wells and threaten water supplies and fish that rely on the
cold river tributaries. Mr. Labbe testified that the County had completely failed to consider how
sprawling residential development would impact wildlife in the valley, including big game and
endangered wildlife. Ralph Bloemers cross-examined the county’s experts and obtained
admissions from those experts of the risks to the water supply. The county’s hearing examiner
upheld the decision, which was then challenged in Washington Superior court in June 2012.
According to Forest Service data, up to 12 local rafting companies take nearly 30,000 people
down the White Salmon River each year for a wild and scenic whitewater experience. This
recreational activity brings millions of dollars to the local economy and supports several local
guide companies and other businesses. Congress designated the Lower White Salmon Wild and
Scenic River in 1986 as part of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Act and
designated the Upper White Salmon as wild and scenic in 2005. The new Lower Gorge section
of the river that was buried behind the dam has not yet been designated. The White Salmon is
one of only Wild and Scenic Rivers in the State of Washington. The Forest Service is charged
with protecting the White Salmon River’s “outstandingly remarkable values,” which include
whitewater boating, the White Salmon River Gorge, hydrology, native fish, and Native American
cultural sites. Residential sprawl would undermine the wild and scenic character of the river and
degrade its recognized outstandingly remarkable values.
Take Action – Husum/BZ Public Meeting
Here is a rezone map.
Download this letter and edit it as you like or download this pdf. Written and verbal testimony will be accepted at the hearing on April 5th. If you want your comment to be received by the Commission before the meeting, send it to the County by March 30. Written testimony to the County can be mailed or faxed.
Mail to: Klickitat County Board of Commissioners
c/o Klickitat County Planning Department
228 W. Main Street, MS-CH-17
Goldendale, WA 98620
Fax to: (509) 773-6206
[Your Name and Address]
Klickitat County Board of Commissioners
c/o Klickitat County Planning Department
228 W. Main Street, MS-CH-17
Goldendale, WA 98620
Re: Written Comments on Proposed Husum/BZ Sub-Area Plan
For the reasons stated below, we ask that you do not approve the proposed Husum/BZ Sub-Area Plan.
1. The proposed plan does not adequately protect the White Salmon River, its tributaries and both existing and new wells from nitrate pollution.
2. Nothing in the plan ensures that existing wells will not be depleted as the result of the proposed zoning densities. We have seen no evidence that new residents can expect to receive a water supply from either the City of White Salmon or the Fordyce Water Association.
3. The proposed densities are not necessary to accommodate reasonably foreseeable, non-speculative residential development in the White Salmon River valley. Land owners in the planning area have great latitude to divide their lots if they need or choose to under existing zoning.
4. No public benefit will result from converting some of the best agricultural and timber lands in the County to rural residential sprawl. Please consider the needs of future generations for viable agricultural and timber lands.
5. Development should be focused in the Rural Centers, where provision of public water and sewage disposal systems are economically viable. Nothing in the plan either requires or encourages provision of such services. In fact, the proposed lot sizes guarantee that development will occur by short plats without any requirements to provide the community services that would be required of long plats/subdivisions.
6. Nothing in the plan addresses access to Highway 141. Please include provisions addressing traffic flows onto and off of that highway. Traffic management on the highway affects not only those who live in the planning area, but everyone who travels that road.
7. Nothing in the plan contemplates public access to the White Salmon River. We ask that you include provisions addressing the need for public access to that river. Recreational uses of the river are vital to the economic health of and quality of life in our community.
8. Nothing in the plan protects the wild and scenic qualities of the White Salmon River. We ask that provisions requiring undisturbed buffers sufficient to preserve those qualities be included in any final plan. Undisturbed buffers should not be less than 200 feet from the ordinary high water mark. Such buffers would also help protect the river from pollution and avoid shifting the burden of habitat preservation from landowners in the planning area to other landowners in the watershed.
9. Please do not rely on the County’s Critical Area Ordinance to protect either water resources or critical habitat unless the County intends to vigorously implement and enforce the protections theoretically established in that ordinance. We are not convinced that the County has or will honor those protections.
10. The rural sprawl contemplated in the plan does not serve the interests of the majority of residents. Such sprawl will compromise not only the natural resources that historically have been the foundation of our economy, but also the rural values that make this such a wonderful place to live and rear our children.
11. Please eliminate all provisions addressing the transfer of development rights and mitigation banking. The County is not in a position to implement or properly administer such a complicated program, and the planning area is not of sufficient size to support the program. The sole results will be added unpredictability with respect to how many homes may be built on any given parcel.
12. Please wait until we know what changes in the watershed and water tables will result from removal of Condit Dam before committing the river corridor to residential development at the proposed densities.
Please bring this proposal back to our community for further discussion.
Thank you for considering the above.
The EA comment period has been extended to April 16, 2012.
The Mt Adams Ranger District grazing allotment permit reissuance environmental assessment is available for review and comment (comments due April 1, 2012.
The proposed action is to reauthorize the allotment permit and continue the current operation for the duration of the next 10-year permit, with the addition of a pipeline from Pine Tree Spring to the existing storage tank on the 8225-150 Road.
The allotment is from the east bank of the White Salmon River on the west to the Forest boundary on the east and from the Mt. Adams Wilderness on the NW side to just north of Trout Lake, WA.
Mt Adams Ranger District: http://www.fs.fed.us/nepa/fs-usda-pop.php/?project=30508
The Friends of Mount Adams (http://mtadamsfriends.org/) has an Action Alert: Protect Mt. Adams Meadows. Just click and learn about the issues.
The FWSR Board has filed its first appeal of a land use action to Superior Court. All prior FWSR appeals have been administrative appeals through the Klickitat County Planning Department and County Commissioner process.
For Immediate Release. January 13, 2011
Trout Lake, Washington – Friends of the White Salmon River (FWSR), a non-profit conservation group based in Klickitat County, has filed suit in Superior Court to challenge Klickitat County’s approval of a subdivision on an 83.5 acre parcel in the White Salmon River watershed. The subdivision is occurring in an area zoned for resource land use and which has a threatened population of western gray squirrels. The suit alleges that the County failed to demonstrate that there was any “public need” for additional rural subdivisions that would justify development of high quality farm and forest land. It also claims that the County ignored cumulative impacts from the developers’ plans for adjacent development projects and prior land divisions of questionable legality, though not questioned by the County. The suit comes at a time when the County is considering a major zoning revision that would open up hundreds of acres of land along the White Salmon River in the BZ/ Husum area to expanded residential development.
“If our County is going to have viable farm and timber operations 20 years from now, it is not going to happen by accident,” says FWSR’s Chairperson Pat Arnold. “The developers in this case have recorded covenants for residential uses on the entire 300+ acre Lyon’s Ranch. The County needs to consider the impact of such a significant loss in farm and forest land before letting the horses out of the barn. The responsible County officials cannot just look at the most recent short plat as an isolated project.”
“The White Salmon River Valley has huge importance for our region because of its scenic, recreational and wildlife values, as well as its role in the local economy. It may be easier for Klickitat County to approve any development project that comes along, but there is nothing to support the conclusion that further residential development of prime resource lands would benefit the public more than preserving farm and forest lands for their long-term values.”
Friends of the White Salmon River was formed in 1976 with the mission of protecting the environmental, natural resource, and recreational values of the entire White Salmon River watershed.