Published June 2, 2017
TAHOLAH, WASHINGTON — The Washington State Supreme Court today denied a petition for review filed by the landowners in a case in which some landowners sought to take ownership of Lake Quinault away from the Quinault Indian Nation.
This means a Court of Appeals decision from January dismissing the landowners’ case stands.
“Hopefully, this will end the long odyssey through multiple courts to an end,” said QIN President Fawn Sharp. “There is no question that the Tribe owns the lake. We always have. Now court decision after court decision have upheld our ownership,” she said.
In March of 2016, Thurston County Superior Court granted a motion for summary judgment rejecting an attempt by the landowners to deprive the Quinault Nation of jurisdiction over the lake. The property owners filed a similar case in federal court against the Quinault Nation and State, which was dismissed the year before.
“The Quinault Nation will always take every step necessary to protect its land and its rights and oppose any attempt to diminish or undermine our interests,” said Quinault Nation President Fawn Sharp.
“We wish to acknowledge the many land owners who support Quinault Nation’s ownership, jurisdiction and management of the lake. We deeply appreciate their support and value the positive relationship we have with them,” she said.
The landowners who filed the suits, known collectively as North Quinault Properties, a non-profit established late in 2014, have alleged Lake Quinault is a “public trust resource” owned by the State of Washington pursuant to the State Constitution. From that, they alleged the State, instead of QIN, has a duty to ensure unlimited access to the Lake.
“The Quinault Nation has done an excellent job of managing and protecting Lake Quinault. It is sacred to us and although we are willing to share it, we will not tolerate abuse or misuse of it. Lake Quinault is an essential component for the survivability of our salmon species including the Quinault Blueback. We will always fight to keep Lake Quinault, and to keep it open as long as it is safe to do so,” said President Sharp