NANFA-- Olympic mudminnow vs. development

Christopher Scharpf (
Wed, 28 Feb 2001 08:21:56 -0400

This was sent to the NANFA list, but bounced. If you have any advice, please
include in your reply.

To Whom It may Concern:

I am writing from the far coast of Grays Harbor County, Washington
State, along State Highway 109, near Copalis Beach, in the town of Ocean
City, on the lower Olympic Peninsula. I found your site while searching
the string: Olympic Mudminnow.

My interest in the topic lies in the fact that my family's home site
sits adjacent an Olympic Mudminnow research location dated back to 1973.
There have been subsequent studies in the area up to 1990 I believe.
Since then, interest in the fish's status seems to either have waned or
other forces (read, development) have deflected that attention away.

In the early nineteen eighties, due to financial straits, my
grandparents had to sell part of the property on the north and east
boundaries of a research location. The general area is mentioned in an
article by U. Eric Friese in the Advanced Aquarist Magazine: November,
1972. A nice photo of the fish accompanies the article.

and again at:

(research sites 25 and 108. Ours is 108)

Last summer the property's owner hired a bulldozer operator to clear the
foremost part of the property adjacent to the highway, to 'prepare' it
for sale. It had had upon it, large alders, willows, berries, squaw and
bear grasses, ferns, abundant wildflowers, rabbits, deer, coyotes and
many, many kinds of flora and fauna, living in harmony with the little
stream at its southern border.

Recently, we received notice from our county's Department of Public
Services that a new owner intends to get the property re-zoned from
residential/recreational to general commercial (C-3). Obviously, any
commercial enterprise is going to impact upon the stream bordering the
property. New roofs and compacted fill and asphalt will sheet rain water
and irrigation directly into the tributary. A SEPA (State Environmental
Policy Act) Determination of Non-Significance (DNS), dated February 14,
2001, has been issued under WAC 197-11-340. It seems to me however, that
someone has forgotten about the significance of the Olympic Mudminnow,
and other fragile species within and along that stream.

What also concerns me, is that other property owners along the stream,
which drains the wetlands to the east, have tried over time to refer to
this tributary as a 'drainage ditch'. Certainly it performs that
function admirably. But I am worried that the 'ditch' tag may continue
to be emphasized in order to enable property owners to segue fill,
covers or dramatic alterations to the stream, destroying the life within
it and all along its banks, not the least of which, the Olympic
Mudminnow (I can of course forgive the Blue Herons feeding on them as I
write this). And, never mind, the flooding that could occur due to
stopping up the stream.

True, the stream has been 'unclogged' in recent times by county
engineers, particularly where it meets the culvert under SR109, causing
it to look more ditch like. But as an effluence, and relief for the
wetlands eastward, it has always been here, perforce in a more natural
state, before the highway cut across it, or towns hereabouts were
incepted. My mother remembers salmon swimming up that stream when she
was a little girl! Neighbors in fairly recent years have seen salmon in
the pond which feeds the stream.

What advice or help can your organization lend in getting a halt put to
more commercial development in this area abounding with such fragile
ecosystems? On Monday, March 5, I and some of my friends and family will
attend a hearing at at our county seat in regards to the zoning issue. I
don't know if its too early and I am becoming, possibly, over resistant
to proposed development, but a re-zoning to general commercial does not
bode well, I think, when in fact, over two acres of the three acre
property in question lies in boggy wetlands, teeming with sensitive
plants and wildlife, with tributaries outlawing to the ocean. I'll write
back with a progress report. Thanks for your time.

Ron Westman

2590 Lone Tree Drive
Ocean City, WA 98569
phone: 289-9448

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