National Geographic : 1977 Jul
Leed, attorney for SCANP, Skagitonians Concerned About Nuclear Plants. "Puget Power," Roger says, "has agreed with Skagit County to pay ad vance taxes, to soften the impact of three thousand construction workers coming into the valley. But we're con cerned with nuclear safety and pollu tion of the river. Also with earthquake danger. A geological fault runs almost beneath us. "Primarily, though, we don't want ten years of boomtown activity and traf fic jams and skyrocketing land values and new industry in this beautiful pastoral valley." This is not the view of the Skagit County Board of Commissioners. How ard Miller, the chairman, told me: "We approved the plant because we can't go on getting tax blood out of our farmers or from retired people. A nu clear plant would double our tax in come and allow us to be very selective about other new industry we let in." Before he got into politics, Howard was a fishing guide on the Skagit for 17 years. "It's tough to make a living guid ing fishermen these days," he said. "Pollution and fluctuating water caused by the dams have cut down on the fish populations. And with the Indians-it's a real mess." In 1974 a federal court upheld the treaty claims of 14 Washington State Indian tribes to half the salmon and other migratory fish in traditional tribal fishing grounds. Opinion on the ruling is vigorously divided. Mrs. Celia Campbell, 74 years old, invited me into her little home and calmly, but passionately, told me how the controversy looks to an Indian. "Until the '30's and '40's we could net fish anywhere. Then the state closed us out. You could only use a hook and line on the rivers. At least then you could still catch fish. Today you can't catch one all day. And now they blame us! "But how about those fishing guides and all those rich fishermen from Seat tle, and all those commercial netters out in Puget Sound and in the ocean? They were nearly all white men till recently. "Now that Federal Judge George Boldt has given us back our right to net fish and sell them, the white people are so mad they talk about impeaching the judge. But he knows the problem is not really how to divide the few fish that are left, but how to make rivers pro duce like they used to. He's going to make more rulings about fish, about dams, and about river pollution by logging and industry." ENE SLONIKER, a U. S. Forest Service silviculturist, has a few words on change in the logging world: "There have been mistakes in our logging. But some environmental purists think any logging is a disaster, and clear-cutting a case for capital pun ishment. The timber interests think trees are for cutting, and for some the crime is in preserving too much of Skag it country for parks and wilderness. "Our job is to see that forests serve everyone-from the backpacker in the high country to the wage-earning Skagit logger. They should all realize that the art and science of growing and harvest ing trees includes some clear-cutting as a tool we have to use. "Before we offer any Skagit timber for harvesting in the future, we'll pre sent an overall timber management plan at public hearings. Everyone will have his say in advance." That's probably the best part about the Skagit River Valley. All kinds of Skagitonians are in on the act of resolv ing its problems. Maybe they can no longer think of it as their very own, but at least they are helping to shape the heritage for those to come. [ Persisting at their oldest industry, Swinomish Indians haul in a net of salmon and steelhead near the mouth of the Skagit. A bitterly contested court decision recently upheld the rights of certain tribes to half the total catch of migratory fish in traditional Indian fishing waters.