No Support Here for Diverting the Skagit

No Support Here for Diverting the Skagit

Seattle City Light and its sponsoring partners of the Barnaby Reach Project have begun work dismantling old hatchery infrastructure in the vicinity of Barnaby Slough. We are not opposing this work, and as we’ve repeatedly made clear, we support fisheries resource recovery. However, it’s evident to us that Seattle City Light and the other sponsors won’t be content doing what’s reasonable and safe for our neighbors. They refuse to withdraw the dangerous option of constructing a channel to divert a substantial portion of the Skagit River into the Barnaby Slough. In spite of scientific evidence showing that our geography is highly susceptible to erosion, and in spite of the fact that diverting the Skagit would come with risk so great that it can’t be known, Barnaby Project Sponsors have declared their intent to keep river redirection on the table. Their dismissive attitude is illustrated by remarks in Seattle City Light’s recent 2020 Annual Fisheries Report, filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, in which they characterize our opposition to a 2014 plan to redirect the Skagit toward our Martin Road neighborhood as simply “unfortunate”.

We must make it clear that we reserve all our rights. We must make it clear that we oppose any plan that includes active flow redirection into the Barnaby.

Here is a letter signed by over sixty residents and landowners of our area stating our shared position regarding planned Barnaby Project activities, and making it clear that we are reserving all rights to fight any intention or effort any of these parties may advance which portends harm or increased exposure to flood risk. The letter also takes Seattle City Light to task for its thoughtless disregard for the serious concerns we have had for the last eight years about their inappropriate, excessively risky project intentions, as well as its claim to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that it has community support. Seattle City Light, you’ve got no community support here for diverting the Skagit.


July 27, 2021 (updated)

Barnaby Reach Project Co-Sponsors

Skagit River System Cooperative

Seattle City Light

Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife

The Nature Conservancy

As residents and land owners of Martin Road and other neighborhoods near the Barnaby Reach Complex, we write to express a clear and united position about the Barnaby Project proposed by Seattle City Light and others.

We thank you for the recent tour of proposed Phase I work, hosted by Seattle City Light and Skagit River Systems Cooperative staff. We reserve all rights and take no position on the removal of road structures and derelict hatchery improvements, which you believe will restore natural flow to the Barnaby Complex and permit increased access by juvenile salmonids. We trust that the heavy civil construction and other significant disruption this work involves will be conducted in a manner that will minimize impact to both the human and non-human environment.

We support modest recreational development in the Barnaby Complex, as proposed in the site plan, to accommodate activities like walking and enjoyment of wildlife in ways which do not jeopardize this critical habitat. We do not support promoting significant increased public access to the Barnaby Complex at the expense of environmental values around which the Barnaby Project and its associated public funding was originally conceived, and may impinge on traditional hunting and gathering activities by local tribal and non-tribal communities. 

Second, we want to make clear that we are vehemently opposed to any plans that involve active flow redirection into the Barnaby Complex, which has, at various times, been proposed for later phases of work.  Seattle City Light’s recent 2020 Annual Fisheries Report, filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on July 15, 2021, states that it is “unfortunate” that local residents have expressed concerns about the project, noting that SCL continues to study its future phases. In addition to minimizing our community’s legitimate concerns, this is not consistent with the public message from SCL and SRSC staff communicated at the recent public information event.

Active flow redirection will significantly increase the risk of avulsion, channel migration, and other major adverse hydrological impacts on neighboring properties, roads, and infrastructure downstream of the Barnaby Complex, including (but not limited to) the State Route 530 bridge over the Skagit River, which alone would likely require hundreds of millions of dollars to replace should it be cut off by an avulsion event.   These potential risks are very much the community’s concern, and there is little evidence that the project proponents are taking these risks seriously.

Besides involving likely costs and impacts that would far outweigh any reasonable estimate of the benefit to the fisheries resource, we would urge you to consider the Washington Supreme Court’s holding in Halverson v. Skagit County, 139 Wn.2d 1 (1999), creating joint and several liability for those who intentionally direct water with no flood control purpose in a manner that causes foreseeable downstream damage.

We strongly support efforts to restore the Skagit fisheries resource, in part to meet Treaty obligations and in part because Skagit salmon are part of our culture as well, a concern heightened by the steep decline in Skagit Chinook and Steelhead over the past 15 years.  

Many of us have lived here for generations and plan to continue calling this valley our home into future generations, together with the Treaty Tribes that have lived and fished here since time immemorial.  As such, we believe that the task of salmon recovery in the Skagit must be approached rationally, with very high care and concern for offsite impacts on other land, infrastructure and services, and a focus on actually restoring harvestable numbers of salmon and steelhead.

Because active flow redirection schemes in the Barnaby Complex fail to meet these criteria, we will be forced to oppose them should they proceed as previously represented.

Thank you for considering our concerns regarding the Barnaby Reach Project.

This letter is published on our website:


Thomas M. Dellinger, Martin Road, Rockport

Donovan Dellinger, Martin Road, Rockport

Tyler Dellinger, Martin Road, Rockport

Howard Stafford, Stafford Lane, Rockport

Karen Stafford, Stafford Lane, Rockport

David Hallock, Stafford Lane, Rockport

Melinda Hews, Stafford Lane, Rockport

Lee Fenley, Stafford Lane, Rockport

Lisa Fenley, Stafford Lane, Rockport

Janine Weyand, Martin Road, Rockport

Jeffrey Weyand, Martin Road, Rockport

Denton Moore, Martin Road, Rockport

Jessica D. Moore, Martin Road, Rockport

Ruth A. Haverfield, Martin Road, Rockport

Randy Haverfield, Martin Road, Rockport

Kevin Davis, SR 20, Marblemount

Rebecca Rising, SR 20, Marblemount

Briana Eaken, Rockport

Athena Caley, Rockport

Melissa Norris, Martin Road, Rockport

Clay Norris, Martin Road, Rockport

Angela S. Moss, Martin Road, Rockport

Richard L. Moss, Martin Road, Rockport

Marilyn D. Cornish, Martin Road, Rockport

Jeff Cornish, Martin Road, Rockport

Roland Caley, Rockport

Debra S. Caley, Rockport

Tanya Williams, Rockport Cascade Road, Rockport

Bradley Williams, Rockport Cascade Road, Rockport

Jasmin Williams, Rockport Cascade Road, Rockport

Susan Moore, Martin Road, Rockport

Donald K. Moore, Martin Road, Rockport

Verl Jarmin, Rockport

Violet M. Johnson, Rockport

Angie Neidigh, Martin Road, Rockport

James Neidigh, Martin Road, Rockport

Mary Hambright, Rockport

David Hambright, Rockport

GuruBani Whitney Young, Martin Road, Rockport

Matthew Van Boven, Martin Road, Rockport

Tommie Mathis, Martin Road, Rockport

Gary Sippel, Martin Road, Rockport

Todd Mathis, Martin Road, Rockport

Russell Taylor, Martin Road, Rockport

Shayna Sanders, Martin Road, Rockport

John Parent, Rockport

Tahlia Honea, Martin Road, Rockport

Ellen Gay Dellinger Lafayette, Martin Road, Rockport

Richard Dellinger, Martin Road, Rockport

Sonja Dellinger, Martin Road, Rockport

Sacha Buller, Stafford Lane, Rockport

Robert Fox, SR 530, Rockport

Michael Goodman, SR 530, Rockport

Doreen Goodman, SR 530, Rockport

Raissa Hines, Rockport Cascade Road, Rockport

Nina Dent, Rockport Cascade Road, Rockport

David Van Boven, Martin Road, Rockport

Marjorie Van Boven, Martin Road, Rockport

Robert Hornbeck, Martin Road, Rockport

Sherri Hornbeck, Martin Road, Rockport

Ann Booker, Martin Road, Rockport

Dawn Koenig, Rockport Cascade Road, Rockport

John Koenig, Rockport Cascade Road, Rockport

Copy to:

Skagit County Board of Commissioners

Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe (Chair Nino Maltos & Council)

Upper Skagit Indian Tribe (Chair Jennifer Washington & Council)

Swinomish Indian Tribal Community (Chair Steve Edwards & Senate)

Washington State Department of Transportation Regional Office 

Governor’s Salmon Recovery Office

Senator Keith Wagoner

Representative Carolyn Eslick

Representative  Robert Sutherland

Skagit Watershed Council (Richard Brocksmith & Board)

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

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