Hoh valley residents not happy with new neighbor
- Owners balk at Western Rivers Conservancy, Hoh River Trust's
involvement with river
Posted on Tuesday 22 June 2004
Forks, WA - About 100 citizens, many residents of the Hoh River
Valley, attended an informational meeting held by the newly formed
Hoh River Trust and its parent organization, Western Rivers Conservancy
at the Forks Middle School June 16.
The meeting was called by Jenny Nixon, director of the trust, and
Jeff Kling, of the conservancy. The purported purpose was to gather
input in preparation for the trust to acquire the Hoh River property
owned by the conservancy and the preparation by the truth of a land
Nixon had said she wanted to hear people’s concerns and be able to
tell people about our project and vision.
She got an earful about residents concerns about their new neighbor.
The WRC has acquired about 3,700 acres of former Rayonier land along
the river specifically Schmidt Bar (757 acres), Watermarker at Spruce
Creek (1,617 acres) and Nolan Creek property (1,325 acres).
Nixon’s statement that The Hoh River Trust will not deny public access
to our lands except for motorized vehicles and camping, was greeted
with distrust and objections.
Kling said concern about campfires prompted the no camping restriction.
A target of the resident’s ire was closed gates with signs posted
by the conservancy that listed restrictions to the use of the property.
The way I was introduced to Western Rivers was by going up to where
we’ve always launched our boats and being greeted with a wall of signs,
said Anna Matsche, who operates a kayaking business on the river.
The whole Hoh Valley is dependent on tourism. It’s a primitive area
that’s friendly to camping and recreation.
It sounds to us like you’re saying you’re the only one who can manage
the land, Glenda Peterson said. We’ve managed this land for over 100
years and have done a good job of it.
Other audience members expressed concern about boat landings, camp
sites, rafting and that the land would be out of the tax base. We’re
a non-profit organization and legally we don’t have to pay taxes,
but we’ve chosen to pay taxes to avoid an impact on the tax base,
Kling also told the group that originally they had considered having
Olympic National Forest manage the acquired lands. We are no longer
looking to work with the Forest Service, he said.
Instead Western Rivers Conservancy and the Wild Salmon Center, both
of Portland, Ore. are in the process of forming the Hoh River Trust.
Of the 10,000 acres within this proposed conservation corridor 8,000
are privately owned, Kling said. Two willing sellers own ninety percent
of these lands targeted for protection by the Hoh River Project. The
Hoh River Trust, a separate not-for-profit conservation entity, will
hold title to and manage all acquired lands for the benefit of wildlife
and people. The land will be available for hunting, hiking, fishing,
and other appropriate public uses. The Trust will continue in the
future to purchase available lands and work with the local community
to ensure the protection of corridor lands.
Any land management plan is in the future when the trust gets the
property so discussions about access are theoretical, Nixon said.
When we have the property we’ll need to discuss some of these issues.
We think you’re on a fishing expedition, said Rob Capelle, of the
Hoh River Resort.
One member of the audience complained, All we’re hearing is I don’t
We all wonder what our future is in the valley, Matsche said. Every
restriction you place on the land hurts us.
After the meeting, Matsche said, They didn’t answer our questions
and weren’t able to give us any idea of their direction, Matsche said.
It’s hard to trust them (see related story).
What they’re doing is going to change the open atmosphere of our
valley and that’s not what we want in a neighbor, she said.
They weren’t prepared, said Gary Peterson, owner of Peak 6. Western
Rivers has built an entity to acquire the property that has no assets.
We don’t know who’s funding this project, he said. Things are not
transparent and that makes some local people suspicious.
Closing the river — that’s never been done historically, he added.
We’ve always had 100 percent access.
Watermaker — Spruce Creek — had always been a camping spot, said
Candice Steed, of the Hard Rain Cafe. It’s one of the most used primitive
sites we have.
It’s not at all friendly to have property we’ve accessed for years
for boating and camping closed off, she said. I don’t know how many
times we’ve sent people there when the regular camping sites weren’t
Creating a Salmon Sanctuary
(Excerpted from the Western Rivers Conservancy website www.westernrivers.org))
Hoh River, Jefferson County, Washington
The Hoh is one of the nation's great rivers. The Hoh basin is world-renowned
for its beauty and receives millions of visitors annually. The Hoh
also presents an unprecedented opportunity to protect and maintain
salmon and steelhead strongholds. With healthy salmon runs, pristine
and protected headwaters, an absence of fish passage problems, and
no significant hatchery influences, the Hoh only requires habitat
protection along the lower river system. Western Rivers Conservancy's
goal is to assemble a continuous conservation corridor from the Park
boundary to the Pacific Ocean, placing nearly the entire length of
the Hoh into protective status. This corridor will serve as a sanctuary
for the famed Hoh River salmon and steelhead. Many species of wildlife
will benefit from large-scale habitat protection. In addition, outdoor
enthusiasts of all types will realize a wealth of opportunities along
Western Rivers Conservancy is working to acquire the vast majority
of lands along the lower Hoh. The first steps were taken in 2001,
when Western Rivers Conservancy, with a loan from the David &
Lucile Packard Foundation, purchased the Schmidt Bar property from
Rayonier Timberlands Operating Company. This 757-acre property includes
not only gravel bars important for mainstem spawning by chinook salmon,
but also the lower portions of two key tributary streams to the Hoh:
Elk and Winfield Creeks. These are considered to be two of the most
productive salmon spawning and rearing tributaries in the entire system.
Schmidt Bar also contains extensive red alder floodplain forests laced
with vital off-channel waterways. Above the floodplain, beautiful
wetland meadows are framed by old growth big leaf maple and sitka
Western Rivers Conservancy's second acquisition, in 2002, from Rayonier
was the 1,617-acre Spruce Creek Bottom property. Spruce Creek Bottom
contains the lower sections of five important tributaries to the Hoh
as well as over four miles of river frontage along the Hoh itself.
Throughout the property there are numerous wetlands that are vital
rearing areas for young fish. Rayonier owns another 1,209 acres of
riverlands along the lower Hoh that Western Rivers Conservancy will
acquire after the Schmidt Bar transaction. In addition to the Rayonier
lands, we anticipate purchasing 3,967 acres of land from various landowners
along the river. Another $15,000,000 is needed to purchase these corporate-owned
properties on the lower Hoh. Lastly, Western Rivers Conservancy must
raise an additional $1,000,000 for purchase options, down payments
and project expenses. Western Rivers Conservancy's effort to create
a salmon sanctuary will provide the best contribution possible to
Hoh River salmon and steelhead. Upon the project's completion almost
thirty miles of river and 10,000 acres of forest will be protected.
This achievement will complement the existing protected lands within
the National Park, creating a fifty-six mile conservation corridor
from the interior of the Olympic Mountains to the Pacific Ocean.
Public meeting is set on Hoh River Project
Posted on Tuesday 18 May 2004
A public meeting will be held the first week of June on the Hoh River
As Director of the Hoh River Project and Hoh River Trust I would like
to personally invite the Forks community to the public meeting we
will be having in early June, Jenny Nixon said. This will be a wonderful
opportunity to hear more about the project and ask questions. I will
work with The Forks Forum and local radio stations to announce the
time and location once it is finalized.
I can be contacted at 206.340.1701 or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org,
she said. I welcome comments and questions.
We’re hoping to hear people’s concerns and to be able to tell people
about our project and vision, Nixon said. We hope to work together
with the community to make this a project everyone can feel invested
The project was envisioned and created by two non-profit organizations,
Western Rivers Conservancy and Wild Salmon Center.
We are wanting to work with the community in creating a conservation
corridor for the Hoh River Project, she said. We’re setting up a land
trust called the Hoh River Land Trust that will hold the lands we
acquire in the Hoh River Basin.
Currently, the trust does not own land within the basin so discussions
on access are theoretical, Nixon said. However, once the trust does
take ownership to lands, public access for hunting, fishing and other
recreation will be allowed.
Of the 56 miles of the Hoh River, 30 miles are outside the protection
of Olympic National Park. The Hoh River Project seeks to purchase
these last 30 miles at fair market value to ensure the Hoh basin are
permanently protected, Nixon said. We’re working in partnership with
residents, local businesses, community groups, tribes and the state
and federal governments to raise $25 million in public and private
The Hoh is one of the last strongholds for several fish species that
are listed as ‘threatened’ or ‘endangered’, Nixon said. Many species
flourish in the area and the Hoh has an unusually high diversity of
salmon and char species.
Nixon said the group will not turn the land over to the Olympic National
Nixon who was raised in Port Angeles and graduated from Port Angeles
High School said, I love to spend time with family and we like to
do that outside whenever possible hiking and backpacking.
Nixon oversees the project and is in charge of the day to day administrative
work and of outreach to the community. I coordinate every aspect of
the project, she said.
Currently Nixon is working out of a Seattle office and can be reached
at 1-866-799-1702. In the short term I’ll be in Seattle, she said.
But it is our vision to have a Forks office in the future.
Nixon has been working with willing sellers on the acquisition of
Hoh River property, We’ve been working with timber companies in the
basin, she said. We only work with willing sellers.
We’re hoping to not only preserve and protect the biological assets
but also the cultural and historical assets in the basin, she said.
We’re excited about this project, Nixon said. It’s a great area to
be working in and I feel very fortunate to be working out