not willing sellers’, say River’s End
Sue Forde, Editor
County, WA – 8/20/02 – Mark Thomas, acting
on behalf of the property owners at River’s
End on the Dungeness River, appeared before
county commissioners to let them know once
again that the private property owners are not
The commissioners planned to accept bid
proposals for environmental impact studies and
appraisals toward the buyout of property
acting president of the Dungeness Beach
Association, brought a letter to the Clallam
County Commissioners, and said, “I come to
talk about the grant money for proposed buyout
of willing sellers at River’s End Road”.
Only two commissioners were present; Mike
Chapman was away at a meth lab conference.
Thomas explained that the annual
meeting of the River’s End property owners
was held recently, and the issue of a buyout
was discussed thoroughly.
“There are no willing sellers, with
the exception of Gil Lujan, who was caught in
the middle of a red tag zone from the county,
and if I were in his shoes, I would want the
county to buy me out, too,” he said.
is for the people down there who are
taxpayers,” Thomas continued. “We do not
want to sell, period. We want to be good stewards of our property.
We want to work with you folks.
So the grant money, which is no more
than taxpayers’ dollars, can be used for
something else.” The letter confirmed what he had stated, and went on to say
that no one would be allowed to enter the
private property without specific permission
and three days’ notice.
statement comes after much contention between
the property owners and county DCD [Department
of Community Development] staff.
Thomas reported later that many of the
property owners had met previously with county
staff and DCD director Bob Martin, and told
them they did not want to sell their
spoke out again at a River’s End landowners
meeting held by the county, and facilitated by
Cathy Lear, Clallam County Department of
Approximately 40 people attended that
meeting at the Old Dungeness
Schoolhouse in Sequim on May 22, 2002, near
the property location.
explained that the grant money they were
getting was available to “improve fish
habitat,” Thomas asked her to explain what
“What exactly does that mean, and
exactly what do you plan on doing that we as
property owners can’t already do?” he
wanted to know.
She put him off, not answering the
question. The issue was pursued later (see ‘Contentious’
river property owners unwilling to sell).
his staff have proceeded as if they did not
hear what the property owners said, obtaining
state grant money ( approx. $1.5 million) with
the help of County Commissioner Steve
(Tharinger serves on the Governor
Locke’s Salmon Recovery Board, and helped to
obtain a grant from that entity toward buying
out the River’s End property.)
According to State Representative Jim
Buck, Tharinger said that the owners there are
been other misstatements by county staff, as
asked, Cathy Lear told property owners that
she didn’t plan on removing the dike.
Technically, “she” personally might
not plan on removing it, but the grant clearly
states the dike removal as one of the goals.
Presently, the Corps of Engineers dike
protects the homes and property at River’s
End; dike removal would create flooding and
the ability of the county to “relocate
people out of harm’s way.”
of the river is important to the county
because of a Dungeness River Management Team (DRMT)
report about turning the area into an estuary.
The Phase I goal as stated in the grant
application report is to “restore the
ecological processes of the estuary and lower
The Phase I objective is to “purchase
approximately 22 acres of property and
associated improvements on the west bank of
the river, remove approximately 3,400’ of
dike and begin revegetation,” so the river
the Team and the county face is that there are
people who live in the area who don’t want
to leave their homes.
Many of the people there have lived
there for many years; several own property
there for duck hunting.
They all own a portion of the
Now that the
owners of the property have stated in writing
that they are not “willing sellers”, one
wonders whether the county will back off the
purchase plans, or proceed to relocate owners
against their wishes – or “make” willing
sellers of them.
As one River’s End owner stated at an
earlier meeting, “I love my property; I
would love to keep it.
If access is cut off, or power was cut
off, I would want to be sure that if people
sold around me, I would not be forced to
report by the DRMT subcommittee talked about
dealing with “contentious” owners.
“quarrelsome”, or “controversial.”
It’s a term that at least one county
commissioner – Steve Tharinger - has used
more than once, directed at private property
question of who has the right of ownership
over the River’s End property is not over: a
battle of private property ownership versus
government ownership is one that is being
fought all across the nation.
Stay tuned. We’ll be following this story as it unfolds.
previous stories on this issue:
 See U. S. Department of Energy promotes "sustainable development" in accordance with United Nations' scheme for more about “relocation” of private property owners. The Energy Dept. states at its website: “For some communities, the only solution is relocation, moving entirely off the floodplain, out of harm’s way.”
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