Here's a link to our comment letter. Let me make very clear that our comments are about County actions, starting many years ago. We would hope that any property owner along the river would want to restore and protect the buffer. We'd hope that such owners would go the extra mile to learn what's needed to be good stewards for the common good. We understand that this particular application is relatively trivial on it's own. The point is that cumulative effects need to be taken into account.
I apologize in advance for some raggedy writing. I spent a long time on this, still didn't have time to polish everything up to a nice sheen.
Comments and questions welcome. https://friendsofthewhitesalmon.org/wp-content/uploads/FWSR.Comment.ShaeHillCUPSH2020-02.pdf
Enough is enough. FWSR opposes the approval of a permit to do additional harm to the shoreline of the White Salmon River by constructing a private raft launch. We have participated in innumerable permitting processes in the White Salmon River watershed. In general, the permitting process has proved to be worthless for environmental protection. When regulatory agencies issue permits, they legalize harm.
The current application states that there will be no damage. We disagree. We also think that this application must be considered in light of on-going cumulative damage to the shoreline. This application results from a long process of short plats, starting with in 1997. The basic fact is that agricultural land is being converted to residential use, which is potentially much more harmful to the river. Every stage of this process has offered an opportunity for the County to protect the shoreline buffer, but no protection or improvement has resulted.
Additionally, the shoreline in the Husum area has degraded through unpermitted actions. Some of these actions have been brought to County attention in complaints filed with the County. None of them have been resolved in favor of the buffer and the river.
Buffers matter. Making room for the river to live naturally, move as it wants, absorb large woody debris, gravel beds, move rocks, and generally be itself is essential for all species that depend on the river, including humans.
Buffers are living systems. Humans have lived among the natural systems of the White Salmon for millennia, and no doubt there have been foot paths down to the river throughout human existence in this area. Animals make paths, too. Our current ability and willingness to do damage to natural systems, however, is unprecedented, and it comes at a dangerous time with the growing impacts of climate change.
We can’t stop human migration, including the on-going migration of people into the White Salmon watershed. We can, and must, take every step to protect the natural resources that are needed to nurture and sustain not only the human population but the entire diverse community of plants, animals, fish, and insects that live here. We are past the point where we can continue to exploit the natural systems without severe damage to our own ability to survive.
Enough. Protect the river.
This is a picture provided by the applicant in the application. This is what the current "buffer" looks like.
Update on the application for a private launch site in Husum. I'm not great with this picture stuff, but the yellow line in the picture below shows the width of the undisturbed buffer that's supposed to be, which is 50' of undisturbed vegetation. Fifty feet isn't nearly enough for a healthy buffer, but that's what's required.
The Wild & Scenic Management Plan calls for 100' in this area.
The actual buffer is a pitiful thing, complete with grading within the 50 ' boundary. Don't be confused by the shadows of trees.
I don't know who did the grading. I don't think it was the applicant, but it doesn't matter who did it - the damage is severe and real.
The County should not permit more damage in the form of a hardened launch path.
I will be posting the FWSR comments on our website as soon as I can. In the meantime, in my next post, check out our general perspective on this.