February 6, 2012

Quileute Bill Approved in House of Representatives

The House of Representatives today approved legislation sponsored by Congressman Norm Dicks that enables the relocation of a school and several other Quileute Tribal Reservation facilities on the Washington coast to higher ground, away from the danger of a Pacific tsunami.

The bill authorizes the transfer of certain tracts of higher elevation land from Olympic National Park, which borders the Reservation, in order to alleviate the threats of tsunami destruction as well as persistent flooding from the Quillayute River.  This land would be added to private lands which the Tribe has purchased to form a contiguous area upon which the Tribe’s school, a day care center, the elder center, tribal government offices and several tribal members’ homes could be constructed. 

The legislation would also settle, by mutual agreement, a longstanding dispute between the Olympic National Park and the Tribe over the northern boundary of the Reservation.  In addition, the bill will guarantee public access to beaches on the Washington coast and designate as wilderness thousands of acres of land that is currently within the Olympic National Park boundary.

In supporting the bill today in the House chamber, Rep. Dicks said “Although the Tribe’s reservation at La Push is spectacularly beautiful, it also is a dangerous place to live.   The threat of tsunamis is a harsh reality that the Quileute Tribe faces every day.”  [complete statement available here]

The House approved the bill by an overwhelming vote of 381-to-7.

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