UPDATED: Why Was Skagit County Left Out of the Hirst Fix, ESSB -6091?

Just received information that the message I sent yesterday was in error.  According to Rep. Fitzgibbon’s office, HB-2397 was not scheduled to be heard by the Environment Committee, but would typically go to the House Agricultural and Natural Resource Committee.  However, Fitzgibbon’s office did remark that the bill was introduced too late in the session to be considered.

The source of the misinformation was Representative Dan Kristiansen who identified Fitzgibbon’s committee as responsible for a hearing in a conversation with Mike Newman.  At the moment, Mike Newman is none too happy.

There are several apologetic replies from our people and emails from Representative Fitzgibbon’s office clarifying the matter.

– Gary Hagland, Skagit County Chapter President, CAPR


As everyone is aware, Skagit was left out of the Hirst fix bill recently signed by the governor.  Over this past week, we’ve learned the reason for this snub was the tribes.  Without a doubt, Brian Cladoosby and the Swinomish had some influence over that.  We are a county that is subject to the whims of a leader who represents less than 500 people.  Given that Skagit’s population is 116,000+, it would not be wrong to think that we have lost our right to self-government.

Of course, the particular law (WAC 173-503) used to justify denial of access to water for Skagit residents, the Skagit Basin Instream Flow Rule, was fabricated by Ecology using very questionable science for support.  Below are two pieces of information that I think everyone should see.  First, is an email from Mike Newman to certain legislators providing a critique to Ecology’s science and policy and the harm caused to Skagit residents.

Second is an article that I found on the “Save Family Farming” website that gives a behind-the-scenes explanation for why Skagit was excluded.  Of course, it all boils down to politics and bought legislators who value tribal campaign donations over the wellbeing of people of this county and state.  The tribes want absolute veto power over rule making in the state.  Many of the law makers in Olympia have no trouble giving it to them.  Also, there’s a brief blurb about orca populations expanding along the west coast, except for Puget Sound.  The article blames pinnipeds for gorging on salmon, the local orca favorite food.  However, I bet commercial fishing, whether done by private concerns or the tribes stretching nets across rivers contributes.

Last word I heard on the HB 2937 bill which would direct Ecology to change the WAC to conform with the 1996 MOA and thereby allow some drilling in Skagit, will not receive a hearing.  The head of the committee assigned to consider the bill is this guy:  Rep Joe Fitzgibbon, 360-786-7952 joe.fitzgibbon@leg.wa.gov    He’s from Burien, which is in King County.  Please call or email him and ask him to conduct a hearing for this legislation.


From: Mike Newman
Sent: Monday, January 29, 2018 12:11 PM
To: david.taylor@leg.wa.gov; brian.blake@leg.wa.gov; larry.springer@leg.wa.gov; Hayes, Rep. Dave; Smith, Rep. Norma; Buys, Rep. Vincent; bruce.chandler@leg.wa.gov; luanne.vanwerven@leg.wa.gov; matt.shea@leg.wa.gov
Cc: cindy alia
Subject: HB 2937


I would like to thank you all for signing on to sponsor this bill.  If it gets a hearing please contact me, I will be down to testify in favor of it.

Unfortunately many in Olympia rely on “ecology science” in the management of our natural resources.  We have actual hard data, measured by the US Geological Survey that contradicts ecology’s claims on the Skagit River.

USGS has been measuring flow on the Skagit since 1940.  There is no data to support ecology’s claim that we have diminishing flows.  In fact the lowest flow year measured was 1941, and several of the highest flow years were in the early 1990’s.  The lowest flow year since implementation of the Skagit ISF was 2015.  You may remember the winter of 2014/2015 when the cascades received about 40% of the normal snow pack.  By mid summer 2015 was well on it’s way to being the lowest recorded flow year on the Skagit.  Ecology was claiming that we were in a drought, but the fall of 2015 was one of the rainiest on record (the Skagit had 3 flood events that fall) and 1941 retained it’s status as lowest recorded flow year for the Skagit.

The Skagit watershed is today, the most difficult place in the United States for a rural landowner to obtain water.  In spite of the fact that it is the third largest watershed on the west coast of the continental US, and the least populated of any of the major watersheds, ecology has determined that we have a water shortage.  If you compare the USGS flow data with the US Census Bureau’s population data you can see that the population of Skagit County has increased from 38,000 to over 116,000 during the years that the river has been monitored for flow, and there has been no measurable impact to the river.  A little further examination and you will discover that almost 80% of that population growth has been in areas served by Skagit PUD or the City of Anacortes, the 2 largest water utilities in the County.  There is no question of “connectivity” with customers of the utilities as they draw water directly from the river or it’s tributaries and still there is no measurable impact to flows.  In the case of the City of Anacortes, the water they remove from the river is permanently removed from the Skagit Watershed through their sewage treatment system.  PUD returns most of their water to the watershed, but it is returned several miles downstream from where they remove it.  We have increased the population by almost 80,000 and there has been no measurable impact to river flows.

This is not to say that the Skagit ISF rule has not had any impact.  We have over $25,000,000 in lost property values.  We have added Chum Salmon, Coho Salmon, and Steelhead Trout to the endangered/threatened status under the ESA.  We have destroyed the dreams of families that planned and saved for years for their dream home only to find that dream snuffed out by government regulations.  We have destroyed the value of investments that were made to fund a retirement.  We have destroyed peoples faith in their elected representatives, and created a financial windfall for attorneys. The only thing the Skagit ISF has not impacted is the river, it’s tributaries, fisheries, or the Skagit Watershed.

“Ecology Science”:  A series of government regulations, not founded in science, designed to increase the authority, scope, and influence of the agency while having no positive impact on the natural environment or the People of the State of Washington.

Thank you,

Mike Newman,

Broker, Century 21 North Homes Realty

No water for Skagit – what’s behind the water “crisis”

Thanks to a Skagit Valley Herald on Sunday, January 28, the community now understands something about what could be called the “water wars.” The “Hirst Fix” bill recently passed the legislature and restored the opportunity for property owners, including small farmers, to drill wells. Except in Skagit.
In the last session the Hirst Fix did not pass even though there were enough votes to pass it. But Governor Inslee and Speaker Frank Chopp refused to allow the compromise solution to come to the floor for a vote. Why? This is what Capital Press reported at the time:

“That became the thing that blew it up in the House Democratic caucus — consult vs. consent,” said Blake, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. “That blew it up, and we didn’t have majority support in the House Democratic caucus.”

Click this link to continue reading the Save Family Farming article…

No Hirst Fix for Skagit Cnty

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