Dept. of Interior

Awareness Of ONP Evironmental Damage To Finley Creek Watershed 

As Far Back As  2002-Documented

Olympic National Park Causes Watershed Damage In Quinault Cause Channel Change

The Environmental Damage to the Finley Creek Watershed Continues
  First the diking of this natural watershed was to protect occasional flooding to an insignificant shop building within the Park boundries, and to avoid the expense of building a proper bridge.  An old weakened  bridge had to be replaced. Several plans were considered, more bulldozing, and a  substandard replacement was done.  In the meantime massive land swallows were consumed by the violent force of water drainage redirecting this huge misplaced runoff to the opposite shore. Away from the Park banks and over to the private land side of Quinault, where the natural flows and freshets have always existed. Reprecussions of this Act against nature has cost many land owners thousands of dollars trying to  protect their homes and livelihoods from these aggressive actions the park has put upon the Quinault Valley and its' residents. These are serious issues that have gone on for over 9 years. Extreme Environmental destruction of plant, animal, waterfowl, aquatic and human habitat.        Here is the latest communication. We will start with the letters requesting information from ONP Superintendent Karen Gustin and the legislative team of Norm Dicks and Patty Murray. The latter two pledged they would look into matters. We are still waiting.

Submitted By Keith Olsen, Pres. OPNRC

Letter to National Park Service 

On Continued Finley Creek Watershed Alteration

Karen and Todd

   Once again, our community has grave concerns with Olympic National Park's work in the Finley Creek channel.  I know, what's new? Looking at the unfinished streambed of Finley Creek one can only be deeply concerned with the future of the structure supporting the Finley Creek bridge.
 The gravel has been excavated to the bottom of the structure which raises issues as to the structure's future stability in a high water event. 
 Excavating this gravel will cause serious problems this winter.  Olympic National Park (ONP) has removed gravel that has supported the structure since the bridge was put in place.  I realize that rip rap is being replaced for future support, but the base support has been altered, and rip rap will be VERY difficult to keep in place in the future around the bridge support.
Previous yearly maintenance, while failing to correct the problem ONP created in 2001/2002, merely removed gravel from the streambed.  The maintenance did not do anything as drastic as destabilizing the support for the bridge.  Going forward, this is a major concern for the Quinault Valley.
 I am sure ONP has studied the ramifications of the loss of the Finley Creek bridge.  And, in fact, they have previously studied the possibility of a "dry crossing" for Finley Creek in the future, correct?    While such an event might be acceptable, and probably even preferred by ONP, closure of the loop road in the Quinault Valley IS NOT acceptable to us!  Loss of the Finley Creek bridge would cause the closure of the road for 8, 9, and sometimes 10 months out of the year.  Again, that is simply not acceptable, and we will not allow it.
 I request a copy of the  Army Corps of Engineers permit, Environmental Assessment, or whatever paperwork that ONP is operating under in doing the current Finley Creek work. 
 I would also like the paperwork on the cost of the chip-seal project at the Bunch Homestead site.
 Thank you for your time in assisting us with our concerns.
Keith Olson

Second Letter                                                                                                                                                         9/25/2011

Karen and Todd,
     I/we really would like the information I requested last week.
 What would be ONP's plan should Finley Creek have water throughout October/November?  Or do you consider the job already finished?
 These are very important questions that the local community wants and needs answered now!
 I realize you both must be pretty busy, but a moderately prompt reply would be appreciated. 
 Is it really necessary to turn elsewhere for this information?  Let me know in a couple days.
 Thank you.

Letter to Sara Crumb (Norm Dicks), Sheila Babbs and Kristine Reeves (Patty Murray).                                         9/25/2011

Sara, Sheila, and Kristine,
   I am having trouble getting the Finley Creek information from the Olympic National Park Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent.
 I realize that they are probably busy with other important issues, but to the residents of the Quinault Valley the Finley Creek problem is every bit as important as dam removal, re-surfacing roads, public relations, etc.
 We shouldn't have to resort to the Freedom of Information Act to acquire these documents....... should we?
 Thank you all for your help.  Would a meeting down our way be possible in the near future?

Response from Karen Gustin (NPS) after Letter to the Legislaters                                                                                           9/25/2011

Hi Keith - we received your email on this issue on Sept 20 and you will get a response this upcoming week. When we receive inquiries about issues, we try to respond within 10 working business days.


Karen Gustin
Olympic National Park
600 E Park Ave
Port Angeles, WA. 98362
P 360. 565. 3004
F 360. 565. 3015

Keith Olson  was finally able to get ahold of the letters from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife and WA State Department of Ecology.  They also had no idea of the channel change prior to the work on Finley Creek - imagine that!
What one doesn't know won't hurt the other.

Finley Creek demonstrates the "true colors" of the National Park Service; and another reason to not allow them additional acreage through the Wild Olympics campaign.
A NOAA contact is also pretty interested in what was done to Finley Creek.  I got a very strong feeling that he has issues with the park service and previous things that they have done.  I have a letter from him, critical of their actions with Finley Creek. This will be published soon.

Letter From Keith Olson To NOAA correspondent:

Here is some general information.  It probably won't make a whole lot of sense without a knowledge of the land/topography/surroundings within and adjacent to the Finley Creek Project.  Like I said, I will gladly give you a tour of the crime scene and the damage that has been set upon the residents on the south side of the Upper Quinault River.
The Army Corps of Engineers issued Permit Number 2001-4-00762 on June 12, 2002.  It expired on June 12, 2007.  The purpose of the project was to, "prevent alluvial material from filling the channel, destroying the bridge, and flooding adjacent areas."  The real reason for the change was the fact that it was flooding their maintenance shop; saving the bridge was just an added benefit. 
I will add here that the loss of 20 acres of property and a homesite on the south side of the Quinault River is proof positive that this project is not preventing flooding of adjacent areas.   
I am not sure at the present time how the Park Service is legally continuing their "work" on Finley Creek, but I think it involves their "Environmental Assessment For Maintining Finley Creek Road Access Through Continued Removal of Gravel", dated July 2005.
Let me make it clear that the blockage of the main stem of Finley Creek was done during August/September of 2001, before issuance of the Army Corps of Engineers Permit.  Nevertheless, even this permit does not grant permission for a complete blockage of the streambed.  There has been work done reinforcing the dike that was built in 2001 every year until 2010.  A minor portion of it was then removed, but not nearly enough to allow Finley Creek to return to its old channel.
When the channel was changed it caused Finley Creek to enter the Quinault nearly a mile east of its old mouth downstream.  It entered the river at a 90 degree angle, causing disastrous results.  My father lost nearly 20 acres and valuable timber from this senseless act. The Corey and Kellie Daniels family had to move their home a half-mile downriver to prevent its loss.  The cost for the move alone was over $50,000.
The local community has spent over $30,000 in expenses reinforcing the riverbank with logs in an attempt to slow the erosion.  The river is currently less than 100 feet from the Grays Harbor County road.  You can imagine the consequences for the residents of the valley should the river change course and cross the road. 
Olympic National Park likes to boast in their "Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) that, "park biologists have determined that this project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect bull trout and will have no effect on bull trout designated critical habitat in the Quinault River, approximately 1800 feet downstream from the project site".  This is simply untrue, as the channel change has eroded millions of cubic yards of dirt/sand/gravel from the south bank of the river, wreaking havoc on the salmon, steelhead, and bull trout populations.
Finding of No significant Impact!  Are ya kiddin' me???!!!
We have repeatedly asked AND demanded that Olympic National Park return Finley Creek to its 2001 location, but to no avail.
This is not the first time that Olympic National Park has been involved in a catastrophic channel change.  In the 1980's they changed a channel of the Quinault River itself by building a dike, and causing the death of hundreds of thousands of salmon and steelhead fingerlings, as well as bull trout.  That criminal act was documented in The Aberdeen Daily World, in Aberdeen, Wa.
In closing, our repeated efforts to force the park service to return Finley Creek to its 2001 channel have failed miserably.
   I or any other citizen would still be in prison for causing such extensive damage to property, homes AND critical salmon, steelhead and bull trout habitat.  That the Army Corps of Engineers and Olympic National Park employees deliberately blocked the channel of a major tributary of the Upper Quinault River is criminal, plain and simple.
I appreciate your time.
Thank you.
Keith Olson