History of River Activist Groups
and the Dungeness River Management Team

Clallam County, WA - As anyone who owns property on the Dungeness River knows, it has become a bureaucratic nightmare to try and get the proper permits to work in - or even close to - the river.  At times of high water, this can spell disaster for the owner trying to protect his property.

Things were not always this way.  Not too many years ago, property owners along the river took whatever action was necessary to protect their homes and land and keep the river in a single channel where it belonged.  A bulldozer working in the river here did  not seem to impact the abundant fish runs of all native species.

In the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, government began to creep more into control of not only what went on along the Dungeness River, but our lives in general.  Property owners groups have been formed and battles have been fought with the ever-increasing array of bureaucratic regulators; mostly over whether or not proper permits were obtained before taking action to save one’s home or property during flooding.

In 1986, an owners’ group - Dungeness River Property Owners Association  -was formed as frustration over the inability to protect one’s property ran high.  That very same winter, the unruly river claimed several more homes.

The Property Owner’s Association was fairly active for several years, assisting in permitting for gravel removal at several locations and instrumental in the county securing property above the highway to create their own gravel trap.

In 1988, County Commissioner Dave Cameron, prompted by the rising tide of owner concerns, created the Dungeness River Management Team (DRMT).  Meeting were held at the Jamestown Tribal center from the onset, and the majority of its ten members represented government agencies.(1)

It may have been a good idea back then, but the desired intent of cooperation and representation has been lost somewhere along the way.  From the start, much posturing, jockeying for position, and boring rhetoric of studies past, present and future disappointed the non-regulatory representatives and their participation waned.

The Tribe assumed more and more control with their bank of grant writers constantly plugging into the government coffers to fund more studies and “feel good” meaningless projects on the river.  The actual condition of the river and its fishery continued to deteriorate.

During early 1981, the Team was replaced by the Dungeness/Quilcene pilot project under the Chelan Process.  The Chelan Agreement was the outcome of a meeting among Tribal, big business, environmental, and government representatives held at a resort on Lake Chelan, under the auspices of the Northwest Renewable Resources Center (NRRC)(2), partially funded by Clallam County.

Its purpose was to establish new water rights regulations.

If the Chelan Agreement became law, it would have restored to the big businesses, Tribes, state government and environmental groups many of the power which they lost when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the water-rights and habitat portions o the Boldt II decision. (3)

During the Gardner (4) administration, the legislature established two pilot projects based on this agreement: one in the Methow Valley, the other in the Dungeness/Quilcene Basins.

Two years later, another new law (5) allowed the use of the consensus process in pilot projects to develop Washington Administrative Code.

The two pilot projects dovetail with this new rule-making process to provide a mechanism for establishing the Chelan Agreement by rule, state-wide.

The consensus process was first introduced into the public arena in this state by the NRRC (6).  It involves the use of the techniques of “group dynamics” (7).  These techniques were intended to improve control over the labor force, and have been demonstrated to out-perform the traditional command or lecture approaches to fostering labor’s acceptance of change. (8)  Among these methods are the ones which J. Edwards Demming introduced into Japan under the name, “Total Quality Management” (TQM).

Ideally, they should be applied without a secret agenda, but when the facilitator pursues one, they can constitute thought-control.

They were adopted by Communist China as their primary form of governance. (9)  China is a democracy, but public opinion is controlled through the use of these techniques in consensus groups in the workplaces and communities.

The Dungeness/Quilcene (D/Q) pilot project was led by the Tribe and funded by a grant of $600,000 from the legislature.  They produced the Dungeness River Management Plan, and the Dungeness/Quilcene Water Resources Management Plan, but they didn’t complete their rule-making on water rights before their sunset date of 1995.  The House, by then under the control of the Republicans, didn’t extend their funding.

The state Department of Ecology (DOE), however, provided funding, and Clallam County reactivated the DRMT (10) to continue the process.

As may be expected, the plans which they developed – and which they are now implementing – appear to have been more politically motivated than sound in terms of either hydraulics or biology.

The river continued to deteriorate, and the floods of late 1995 prompted several residents to take action to save their property.  The Team appears to have coordinated the prosecution (11) of these property owners, and threatened them with huge fines.  The property owners eventually prevailed in both cases, after considerable expense.

During 1996, several citizens, including Steve Marble, Keith Winter and Dr. Bob Crittenden began working in unison to stop their rule-making and to get them to allow effective public participation.  The results were that rule-making was temporarily stopped until it moved outside the Team during the fall of 1996; and the Team was also restructured during the mid-summer, but only to further reduce citizen influence.(12)

In response, during September 1996, Dr. Crittenden formed the Dungeness Valley Association (DVA).  It drew together many of the same individuals who had formed the Dungeness River Property Owners Association ten years earlier.  Their objectives were to protect property and the environment through the establishment of a set of permanent permits or exemptions which would allow the property owners to maintain their own property, and to form a watershed council in which the decision power would reside with representatives elected by the property owners and other interested parties in the drainage basin.

The DVA was active for awhile, but for some reason fell apart.  Meanwhile, the DRMT has continued to develop its agenda, promoting more and more regulation over the entire watershed.

(1) Clallam County Resolution 46 signed Feb. 16, 1988 by Lawrence Gaydeski, Dorothy Duncan and Dave Cameron.  The following groups had seats on the Team:  Property owners, Irrigation Districts and Companies, Dungeness Flood Control Advisory Board, a Sportsman’s group, Washington State Department of Fisheries, US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Soil Conservation Service, Washington State Department of Ecology, Point-No-Point Treaty Council, and Clallam County.

(2 )  The NRRS represents big business, tribes and environmental groups.  M.E. Fraidenburg (1989 The Northwest Environmental Journal 5: 211-240) analyzed its board of directors and concluded that Burlington Northern and Weyerhaeuser Company form its controlling interest group.  James Waldo is their chairman, and Dan Evans, William Ruckleshaus, Joe DeLaCruz, William R. Hearst II, Katherine Fletcher, Jerry Pavletich, and Mel Tonasket are among the better known individuals who have served as their board members.  This coalition was formed over the Boldt II decision.




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(3)  US v Washington 694 F.3d 1374 (1982). This is the citation for the final Supreme Court ruling.

(4) Governor Booth Gardner is the stepson of Norton Clapp, the principal owner of Weyerhaeuser Company.  See A study of Weyerhaeuser as a multinational corporation. Evergreen State College. June 1975.

(5)      RCW 34.05.310 and .313; Laws of 1993 C202

(6)      They used it in 1984 to reach the Salmon Co-management Agreement (under WDF personal services contract 1350), which specifies that the Tribes and Department of Fisheries will co-manage the salmon fishery; they used it to develop in the Timber, Fish and Wildlife Agreement, which specifies that a team with a big timber, tribal and environmental representative can waive restrictions on timber cuts, such as setbacks from streams, after a field inspection; and they used it to develop the Chelan Agreement.

(7)      They were pioneered by Kurt Lewin during the 1930’s at the University of Iowa and later at MIT.  For example, see his “A Dynamic Theory of Personality 1935; Frontiers in Group Dynamics 1947; Group Decision and Social Change 1947; and Resolving Social Conflicts 1948.  Major research programs followed at the Research Center for Group Dynamics at MIT; the National Training Laboratory, Institute for Applied Behavioral Sciences, in Bethel, Maine; the Travistock Institute of Human Relations, in England; and the University of Michigan’s Research Center for Group Dynamics.

(8)      See Coch and French (1948) and Levine and Butler (1952)

(9)      See Lindblom 1977.  Politics and Markets, Basic Books Inc, NY

(10)    Clallam County Resolution 104 signed May 30, 1995 by commissioners Dorothy Duncan, Dave Cameron and Phil Kitchel and the corresponding tribal resolution 44-95 was passed by the Tribal Council the following day.  The Team has 12 representatives: Clallam County, Jamestown s’Klallam Tribe, Property Owners, Dungeness River Agricultural Water Users Association; Sport Fishers, Washington Dept. of fish and Wildlife, Washington Dept. of Ecology, US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Forest Service, Clallam County Planning Commission, Clallam  County Critical Areas Committee, Watershed/Dungeness-Quilcene planning.  On Dec. 18, 1995, Commissioner Dave Cameron and Tribal chairman Ron Allen signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to enlarge the Team by two seats: one for the Clallam Conservation District and the other for the City of Sequim.

(11)The team does not itself have enforcement powers, but their member agencies do, and they coordinate their actions through the Interagency Coordination Act.

(12)The Team became self-appointing, instead of its members being appointed b the Region 1 commissioner and Tribal chairman.  It also changed from making decisions unanimously ton only requiring a 75% majority.  This removed the veto from individual DRMT members.