The state Department of Natural Resources has revoked permission for Orca Dreams LLC to install and maintain a dock over state-owned aquatic land on the west side of San Juan Island. Mary Huff, DNR District Manager Aquatic Resources Division, Orca-Straits District cited the risk to public resources, endangered species, and critical habitat, in her April 24 letter to Dave Honeywell.
The Honeywells want to build a dock at their property - the location of the former Mar Vista Resort - next to False Bay on San Juan Island. The proposed dock would have 1,577 square feet of overwater coverage, 540 square feet would be on state-owned aquatic land.
Huff wrote: "The dock location is unsafe, putting public resources at unnecessary risk...No overwater structures are located along the 16-mile stretch of west San Juan Island coastline between Cattle Point and Henry Island, an area that includes the proposed dock site. It is likely that one of the main reasons is that this stretch of coastline is not suitable for floating overwater structures."
Huff cites the strong summer winds and ship wakes as concerns.
The letter describes the conditions at the location: "Navigational hazards in the immediate area include shallow water depths, rock outcroppings along the shoreline and at the mouth of the bay near where the end of the dock would be. Bull kelp was also present on all sides of the outcropping at the mouth of the bay. In addition, NOAA nautical charts identify the entire project site as an area that uncovers during low tide, and submerged rocks add additional danger to navigation."
The project is located a quarter of a mile from the False Bay Marine Preserve.
Along with impacts on kelp, eelgrass, and habitats for benthic and epibenthic invertebrates, Huff wrote: "NOAA fisheries lists pinto abalone as a "species of concern". and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife lists it as a "state candidate species of concern". This project is located in an area of good pinto abalone habitat which could be impacted by the construction and presence of the dock structure, petroleum spills and other associated boating activities."
Negative impact on the endangered southern resident killer whale population is also mentioned. "These orca are typically present in this area during the summer months when the proposed dock would be in use, creating a potential conflic with vessels transiting to and from the dock. Additionally, noise levels from vessel activity associated with the proposed dock would be audible to the SRKW when in the area. Vessel noise is known to have detrimental impacts to SRKW.
In summary, the anticipated consequences of the Orca Dreams LLC-proposed dock would include precendent-setting negative impacts on public resources along a large stretch of shoreline that currently has no overwater structures, bulkheads, mooring buoys, or other development in the aquatic environment. To avoid these impacts, DNR revokes Orca Dreams LLC's right to install a private recreational dock (the proposed dock) based on a finding of public necessity to protect those public resources.
Last year, Huff sent a letter to San Juan County Planning Director Eliza Shook, detailing DNR's disagreement with the county's mitigated determination of non-significance (MDNS) regarding the project. The MDNS was overturned by the county's Hearing Examiner in April 2018. The HEX ruled the project required an environmental impact statement.
Steve Ulvi Sunday, 06 May 2018 08:49 Comment Link
This denial by DNR is the only rational response to the Honeywell's irrational dock dreams in terms of the public trust doctrine, the dangerous and ecologically sensitive location and what remains of common sense.Report
The earlier decisions by SJ County planning were the real travesty in this episode of "if you have enough money and unending hubris you can over-ride the public interest in San Juan County" in protecting what is left of our highly impacted public commons. That should be clear from the strongly worded HEX decision that an EIS is required and now that the proposal is contrary to all public interests.
However, I agree that the additional DNR concerns stated about a couple extra vessels entering and exiting False Bay having a potential deleterious effect on our starving and poisoned SRKW pods that may happen to be around, is a ludicrous stretch and unnecessary to support the solid main arguments. Ditto with earlier individual arguments that the dock would ruin their personal recreational experience.
Greg Hertel Saturday, 05 May 2018 22:32 Comment Link
Wow, the nanny state speaks! This is an amazingly convoluted argument to reach a negative finding. Literally hundreds of recreational fisherman troll just off shore here on summer days. Scores of pleasure boats motor by, scores of whale watch boats follow the pods but a private dock that wouls be used sporadically is over the line in generating noise? While there are few structures located on the West side maybe this is tucked in enough to avoid the worst of the waves. Also, it's common in areas of winter storm waves to tow floats and store them in protected areas as I'm sure the Honeywells would do in this location. Finally, citing navigation hazards to boats in the area is an insult to all of the skippers who safely navigate far more restricted areas than this. This finding is a travesty!Report