Will the Tension Ever End? Snoqualmie Tribe, City at Odds; City Responds to More Criticism over Development Near Falls

It beginning to feel like a never-ending saga. The Snoqualmie Tribe opposes the Tokul roundabout construction near Snoqualmie Falls and subsequent future developments in near the area. Their criticism of Snoqualmie city officials has been relentless since July when construction started, calling it irresponsible.

Recently Snoqualmie Indian Tribal Chairwoman Carolyn Lubenau commented in a press release:

“It is incredibly hurtful to see bulldozers at Snoqualmie Falls. We proudly support responsible development, but building on the bones of our ancestors at our most sacred site is irresponsible. The City of Snoqualmie has consistently ignored our opposition to this desecration of sacred land and has pushed forward with irresponsible development at all costs.”

Tokul roundabout construction near Snoqualmie Falls, about 1/3 mile away.

Tokul roundabout construction near Snoqualmie Falls, about 1/3 mile away.

The Snoqualmie Tribe has taken out full-page opposition newspaper advertisements, sent out [photoshopped] mailers depicting a bulldozer at the base of the Snoqualmie Falls and recently Chairwoman Lubenau and Councilman Dan Willoughby met government and elected officials in Washington D.C., urging assistance to stop the planned housing development near Snoqualmie Falls, land the tribe calls ancient burial grounds.

mailer

Mailer sent to area homes with a bulldozer photoshopped at the base of Snoqualmie Falls. The City of Snoqualmie, however, says that roundabout construction is 1/3 mile away and not visible from the Falls park.

Is the Pressure Yielding Results?

Will it stop the Tokul roundabout construction and future development ? It doesn’t appear so. Snoqualmie city officials continually defend the construction project(s) as responsible and vetted public process which the Tribe was involved in.  They have stated they will not stop building the roundabout.

Monday, November 30, 2015, the City of Snoqualmie even released a detailed press release regarding the nearly 6-month saga, including history of the Tokul roundabout, in an effort to clear up some criticisms detailed by the Snoqualmie Tribe and other community members.

City of Snoqualmie Response to Criticism over Land Development near Snoqualmie Falls

Out of Sight of the Falls, Tribe Bid for the Now Opposed Land and Approved Development

Recently, Mayor Larson and the City of Snoqualmie were criticized for planned development of land described as being at Snoqualmie Falls but is actually located 1/3 of a mile away from Snoqualmie Falls. Specifically, the land is north of State Route 202 and beyond the upper parking lot of Snoqualmie Falls Park – out of sight of the Falls.

The development plan for that land was approved more than ten years ago after several months of public process. At that time, there was no mention of the existence of a sacred burial ground by former representatives of the Snoqualmie Tribe.

The project encompasses expansion of the Salish Lodge, a conference center, and 175 homes, all located on a 60-acre parcel. The development rights were purchased by the Muckleshoot Tribe in 2007 following a competitive bidding process. Both the Muckleshoot and Snoqualmie tribes made offers on the sale of the property and approved development, which included the 175 homes.

Improvements to Area Around Snoqualmie Falls Park

Recently, Puget Sound Energy rebuilt its two 100-year old power plants at Snoqualmie Falls. The City of Snoqualmie’s goal was to ensure that this project improved upon and enhanced the visitor experience. The public now enjoys two beautifully redesigned parks and improved trails on the north side of the river. A great deal of visual pollution was removed on the south bank above Snoqualmie Falls.

Likewise, the Tokul Roundabout, once completed and re-landscaped, will provide a much safer, and more beautiful and respectful experience as visitors approach Snoqualmie Falls Park. The prior road alignments were a product of unplanned and haphazard development reaching back to the late 1890s.

Balancing Growth and Population

“One of my highest priorities is not just preserving, but also restoring and enhancing the beauty and integrity of Snoqualmie Falls,” said Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson. “It’s our most cherished asset and greatest source of pride. Our city logo reflects this.”

Snoqualmie’s population has grown from 1,630 in 1997 to a current population of nearly 13,000. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau) While this growth has had an impact on the environment as more people have moved in over the past 18 years, city leaders have carefully considered how to balance development with preservation.

The City of Snoqualmie, the Cascade Land Conservancy (now Forterra), Weyerhaeuser Real Estate Company, and King County came together in June 2001 for a public/private partnership to establish the Snoqualmie Preservation Initiative. The initiative achieved permanent protection of 145 acres directly adjacent to Snoqualmie Falls, prevented the development of 9,000 acres in the Raging River Basin and other areas of the Snoqualmie Valley in perpetuity, and protects and enhances the City of Snoqualmie and King County’s trail systems

Other Preservation Efforts

Other preservation actions by the City of Snoqualmie include acquisition of 165 acres of the 418-acre Three Forks Natural Area from King County. The land is managed by the City’s Parks and Public Works Department. One hundred thirty acres of land at Snoqualmie Point was saved from development through the efforts of the City of Snoqualmie and the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, with the help of the Trust for Public Lands. And in partnership with the City of North Bend, the City of Snoqualmie owns and maintains Meadowbrook Farm – a 460-acre area of open space and critical wildlife habitat.

Mayor’s Response

“It’s important to our city leaders to maintain the natural environment and be an advocate of land preservation to the furthest extent possible,” said Mayor Larson. “The scenic beauty of the Snoqualmie Valley is one of the biggest draws for tourists, new residents, and businesses. It is a major feature of our high quality of life.”

A point of great pride for the City of Snoqualmie adding to the quality of life are thirty-eight city parks totaling 142 acres for outdoor recreation, and more than 25 miles of trails, many of which connect to regional trails.

“These are but a few examples of preservation and smart growth principles that we have put into action,” Mayor Larson emphasized. “Yes, Snoqualmie has grown and land was, is, and will be developed further, but it is with careful consideration and in line with decisions developed with extensive public input over the past thirty years.”

 

Snoqualmie Falls on 11/13/15 at flood phase level 3.

Snoqualmie Falls on 11/13/15 at flood phase level 3.

 

Comments

  1. The deceptive ad with a photoshopped tractor at the bottom of the falls lost all credibility for the Snoquaolmie tribe efforts… Why aren’t they talking to their sister tribe Muckelshoot since they are funding the project?

  2. “The development rights were purchased by the Muckleshoot Tribe in 2007 following a competitive bidding process. Both the Muckleshoot and Snoqualmie tribes made offers on the sale of the property and approved development, which included the 175 homes.” Sounds to me like the Snoqualmie Tribe can’t live with their decision…? Or is this just one outspoken tribe member who is crying over spilt milk…? I guess you can’t make everyone happy, even when given ample opportunity, huh?

    • Do you have any facts that support this? The Snoqualmie tribe had finished negotions to make the purchase when Muckleshoot using inside info made an extremely larger offer. The business is not very profitable and they comp rooms to gamblers who then frequent Snoqualmie casino. Muckleshoot is already aware of the creation story and the artifacts found in surrounding areas.

      • Huh? Your reply makes no sense. My quotes are from the article. “The Snoqualmie tribe had finished negotions to make the purchase when Muckleshoot using inside info made an extremely larger offer.” Your comment would then confirm the issue is between the Snoqualmie and Muckleshoot tribes, or are you saying that the Snoqualmie tribe is bitter that the Muckleshoot tribe was able to come up with more money? Usually, when people are bidding, the higher offer wins, and is able to close the deal. “The business is not very profitable and they comp rooms to gamblers who then frequent Snoqualmie casino.” sounds bitter to me. “Muckleshoot is already aware of the creation story and the artifacts found in surrounding areas.” Creation story, what story is that in reference to?

  3. Whatever the Snoqualmie Tribe is trying to accomplish seems to be back firing on them. If they have issue with the Muckleshoots or City of Snoqualmie, then go after them directly in a productive and proactive way. This after-the-fact, over-the-top, disingenuous PR campaign should stop before it hurts their casino revenue and they can no longer afford to pay for that new hotel the Upper Valley could really benefit from, even if it may be in competition with the new Muckleshoot/Salish convention center. –Maddie

  4. Do you think money is more important than beliefs ? The Snoqualmie people have always tried to protect this land it’s nothing new. Many productive and protective ways have been tried. I can’t speak for or condone the choices of the current council but I feel like were running out of options. The destruction of man is unstoppable. What’s hard to accept that others with the same beliefs would join in this destruction.

  5. “Do you think money is more important than beliefs?” Yes, I believe the Snoqualmie tribe believes this too! Or else they wouldn’t have built a casino or other profitable developments. If they truly cared for the environment they would purchase virgin land and work to maintain it, to prevent development. But the tribe themselves are developing land for profit, they are just as guilty of being a part of the development machine. “The destruction of man is unstoppable.” Yes, very true. Since the dawn of man we have been a parasite to this earth. No man or woman, OR tribe is innocent of that!

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