Letter to the Editor
By Artie Olson
After attending the December 10th Skagit River Systems Cooperative (SRSC) meeting on the Barnaby Reach “construction” project (NOT “restoration” project, as they insist on calling it), I noticed a number of changes from their last meeting, many months before. Most noticeably changed were their maps. Previous versions of their maps of the project showed a very limited scope – only the land immediately involved with the construction of the channel to divert the river into ancient oxbows to the south. However, the newer maps now actually include many south Rockport homes and private properties adjacent to this project. But I wonder which maps they use when meeting with folks from down valley or in Seattle? In addition, the boundary lines formerly delineating the scope are now also gone, which I feel is a good thing, as they were never accurate in the first place. I think they now know that the Rockport Cascade Road and State Route 530 are basically dikes or dams during high water events. Maybe they are beginning to listen to us?
The most important question on the minds of most attendees was the ongoing and unanswered one:
“Who is responsible if their project causes catastrophic damage to homeowners in south Rockport?” Their answer was a non-answer , replying that they now say “they wouldn’t accept a project that would pose a risk”. Well, if you place 3 big, artificial log jams in the main river to force the water to flow uphill through a constructed channel and into ancient sloughs, and that new river’s flow is 10 times closer to peoples’ homes and lands than previously, I think THAT poses a risk. But liability can only be proven in a court of law, and the SRSC apparently has money for lawyers. As a matter of fact, their non-answer sounded like it may have very well been prepared by a lawyer…
I had a boss who once told me that “It’s not what I say, it’s what I DON’T say that you should listen to.” I am starting to appreciate that statement. This SRSC proposal is beginning to stink like fetid backwater.
A few months ago I was listening to a report on NPR on poverty and inheritance in this country. In it, the statement that the biggest transfer of wealth in the American middle class is of your home/land to your offspring was an eye opener. I know that a most of my neighbors feel the same way I do: that once your land floods, your property value plummets, and in some cases, that would insure that our children struggle with poverty for the rest of their lives.
That’s why I think our children and grandchildren should accompany us to the next community meeting, Jan. 7th, 6:30pm, at the Marblemount Community Hall. State Representative Elizabeth Scott will also be there, at her request, to hear our concerns. For more information on this project near Rockport, see: www.skagitupriverneighbors.com
Published with the permission of the Editor, Concrete Herald
Note: This is the unedited, longer form of the letter submitted by Artie