Tribe supports Snoqualmie Riverwalk, wants alternative trail through protected property

  • Friday, December 22, 2017 7:30am
  • Opinion

Snoqualmie Falls and surrounding lands are sacred to the Snoqualmie People. We have lived in the area since time immemorial, and we follow the teachings of our ancestors to take care of our people, community and the surrounding Valley.

Recently, we’ve heard that the city of Snoqualmie suggested the tribe opposes the Riverwalk project. This is not true.

Over the past year and a half, tribal leaders and staff have met with city staff to provide input on the Riverwalk project and foster a productive government-to-government relationship. We identified the opportunity for the city and tribe to work together for a shared goal of restoration. Our stewardship of sacred Snoqualmie Falls has been our honor and responsibility for millennia.

In 1999, Snoqualmie Tribal leaders worked with landowners, King County, conservation groups, including Cascade Land Conservancy (now Forterra) and the city to protect land which was slated for development. As a result of that work, the land is protected from development under a conservation easement, held by Forterra. In honor of the tribe’s connection to this sacred land, the property is named Two Sisters Return for the two Snoqualmie sisters from the tribe’s creation history. The city has been referring to a portion of this property as Phase I of the Riverwalk project, or Parcel D.

Despite its legal obligation to protect Two Sisters Return, the city now plans to cut through this sacred land to install trails, disregarding the tribe’s opposition and the requirement that Forterra approve all proposed trail development. Current plans from the city depict trails through key wildlife habitat, which was made evident when city consultants had a run-in with a black bear while walking the property.

This poses an obvious public safety concern. Placing the trails in an area affected by the Snoqualmie River when it floods also raises questions of whether the trail plans are economically sound, and the best use of tax payer dollars, as flooding would necessitate significant trail maintenance. In addition, rather than increasing foot traffic from Snoqualmie Falls to downtown businesses, the current plans divert visitors mid-way, through Two Sisters Return. This is puzzling, as the route would appear to not support downtown businesses.

The Tribe is supportive of city businesses, and wants to see them thrive with support from tourists visiting our sacred Snoqualmie Falls. We have presented alternatives to the city that would preserve the sacredness of the land by suggesting the planned trail remain closer to the road or use the existing Centennial Trail.

Snoqualmie Falls and its surrounding land, including Two Sisters Return, are sacred to the Snoqualmie People. Sacred lands should be protected and conserved. This is no place for development.

The Tribe is neither anti-tourism nor anti-development. We want to see the Riverwalk project is executed in the most responsible way possible. We intend to continue working with the city to find a solution that works for all.

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