RESPONSE by Friends of White Salmon to SDS “Project Steelhead”

Pat Arnold, on behalf of Friends of White Salmon, has submitted the following response to SDS’s “Project Steelhead” solicitation:  

Friends of the White Salmon River

Statement on SDS sale opening brochure May 4, 2021

“Project Steelhead” reads the headline on the glossy brochure announcing the opening of the sale of SDS. Perella Weinberg Partners, (P/W/P) a large international investment advisory firm, based in New York City, prepared this document to market SDS to potential investors.

“Key Investment Highlights” tells investors where the profits are to be found.
     · “potential for significant harvest” meaning, of course, that the new owner can cut a lot of trees really fast.
     · “Higher and Better Use” sale, meaning selling parcels along the White Salmon and other waterways for high-end residential use with “river views” and “river access”. Shoreline buffers will disappear.
     · “Mature forest Inventory with 85% over 50 years old, and potential for significant harvest”, meaning not only can the new owner cut fast, they can cut high-value trees.

NOWHERE is there mention of a chance to protect the environment, store carbon, or help the community. SDS is nothing more than a bunch of opportunities to make lots of money – all the parts are put on display, but the sum of those parts, a firm that has been a good steward of the land and a good community partner, is nowhere to be seen.

So now we know what we look like, our forest, our fish, our roads, our jobs, and our community to this large investment firm, now speaking for SDS. Fodder for investment profits is what we look like to them. You can read about P/W/P here.

We are not surprised at this profit before people, corporations before community approach. We had hoped that SDS would pay some mind to the needs and desires of this community and these watersheds that have supported them for so long.

SDS has for decades refused to take the simplest step to protect fish habitat on the Lower White Salmon Wild & Scenic segment. That step would have been to hold to their agreement to sell 700 acres into public hands to protect the river. They first agreed, then walked away. Profits before fish, they said then, and they say again now.

“Project Steelhead” indeed. It is hard to comprehend how this name could have been chosen for this sale. Hubris? Blindness? Ignorance? Or just plain venality, hoping that the name of this magnificent, courageous creature will disguise the harm being done to the species and the world which it needs to survive.

We are deeply saddened to be writing this. We have spent many hours over many months working with the hope of a more humane outcome. The sales brochure makes it absolutely clear that the outcome will be maximum profits for SDS and for investors, at whatever price the rest of us will pay. Weep with us.



Project Steelhead – Teaser

Perella Weinberg Partners (“PWP”), a company comprised of partners and analysts from New York, is advising on the sale of SDS.  They have created and are circulating an attractive, colorful, glossy introductory brochure entitled Project Steelhead – Summary Overview, outlining key investment highlights — a feathered lure, so to speak —   for those interested in the opportunity to invest.  

Outfitter Guide Special Use Permit Reissued

On March 11, 2021, the U.S. Forest Service, Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, announced their proposal to reissue 10-year permits to existing permit holders who offer whitewater boating services for both the White Salmon and Klickitat Rivers.  The proposal will also establish a Temporary Use Pool of 500 service days on the White Salmon and will increase the Klickitat River Temporary Use Pool from 200 to 300 service days.  The eight-page Decision Memo includes the historical background, the proposed action, as well as a summary of comments and responses received during the public involvement process.   

Community awareness of impact of SDS sale

As SDS prepares to sell their corporate assets, local community groups, including Friends of the White Salmon, are engaging the community to bring “about awareness of the potential impacts the sale could have on the Gorge region.” The March 2, 2021, Columbia Gorge News article by Jacob Bertram outlines many of these concerns.   How the assets are sold and to whom they are sold could impact the community economically as well as have negative impacts on timberland and critical habit into the future.  

Friends of the White Salmon encourages you to become involved.  FWSR  invites you to attend the Premiere showing of Joe Roth’s Uprooted, a one-hour Facebook event that will explore the impacts the SDS sale will have on the community.  This Zoom event will be held March 14th, 2021, from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m.   


Under Canvas Update

Under Canvas update. It is my understanding that on Friday two appeals of the SEPA determination were filed. FWSR filed comments, which we will post on the website, but it takes lawyers to file SEPA appeals, and it’s great news that Under Canvas opponents could get that done. The response from Under Canvas and the County will probably be a while. They could withdraw this SEPA and try again, or call for a full environmental assessment, or they could decide to litigate the appeal. Stay tuned.

Revised MDNS issued for Under Canvas

On December 25, 2020, Klickitat County issued a revised Mitigated Determination of Non-Significance for the Under Canvas Project. You can read the MDNS on our website here Mitigated Determination of Non-Significance.  If you want more information, including all comments submitted on the original MDNS last fall, you can read them on the County website here.     You will find all documents, including the CUP application and the Recreation Park Application there as well.  Settle down for a long winter’s night of reading.