Washington residents concerned about land transfer to tribe

Washington residents of Fox Island are circulating a petition that opposes a possible transfer of beachfront property from the federal government to the Nisqually Tribe of Indians.

The property was the former site of a U.S. Naval research facility, which relocated last summer to the Bangor Naval Submarine Base near Silverdale.

The petition, which now has nearly 500 signatures, expresses concern over how the land would be used by the tribe if the transfer occurs.
The “No Tribal Water Industry on Fox Island” petition states that the tribe plans to use the land for commercial and industrial use, although Pierce County land use ordinances strictly prohibit water industry in a “Shoreline Conservancy” or “Rural 10” zone.

Residents claim that they are not anti-tribe but want to ensure that no industrial activities occur on the island.

“We watched our beach disappear, essentially,” Corsi said. “Further industrial activity is going to continue the erosion of the property and potential landslides. You’d be astonished if you walked from the pier across my property. There’s a radical change in the quality and height of the beach.”

Michael Graubard, a spokesman for the tribe, responded: “Contrary to some reports from the community, the tribe has no plans . . . to conduct any type of industrial operations at the site,” Graubard wrote. “The Nisqually Tribe is committed to protecting and enhancing the Puget Sound and is proud to have a leading role in many stewardship projects in the region. The tribe’s interest in the Fox Island property would specifically support these efforts.”

Residents believe, and the GSA acknowledged, that the tribe plans to use the property for its Nisqually Aquatic Technologies. While the GSA said the property will be used to “conduct a diving school as well other tribal programs,” residents believe their activities may involve more than that.

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