Port of Ridgefield, state at odds over Carty Lake

By Tyler Graf, August 20, 2014, The Columbian

Clark County has given the Port of Ridgefield up to three months to resolve a dispute with the Department of Ecology over whether to place Carty Lake in the county’s shoreline program, a state-mandated directory of regulated waterways.

 

While the state agency says Carty Lake should be placed on a list of lakes subject to regulations, including having a buffered area where development isn’t allowed, the port argues that the area is already protected and sufficiently bulwarked from future development.

 

Carty Lake is located inside the city limits of Ridgefield, within the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, and is managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

 

County commissioners were poised Tuesday to amend its shoreline program to include Carty Lake, but instead gave the Department of Ecology and the port 90 days to continue their discussions. Jurisdictions are tasked with approving their shoreline programs, which the Department of Ecology then signs off on.

 

At stake for the port is the development of a 41-acre swatch of land near the lake. The property — the former home of Pacific Wood Treating, a once environmentally blighted area — took a decade for the port to scrub and cap off environmental damage at a cost of $70 million. The cost was covered primarily by grants and loans.

 

The port has high hopes for the property and is worried that tightened regulations on nearby land could dash them. The banks of Carty Lake are roughly 100 feet from the port’s property; the shoreline master program, however, places a 200-foot buffer between a body of water’s shores and where development can take place.

 

Brent Grening, the port’s CEO, questioned why the Department of Ecology wanted the lake listed now, two years after Clark County adopted its shoreline master program.

 

Conversations between the port and the Department of Ecology have been ongoing for years, he said, but the latest discussion about Carty Lake is new. The department worked with the port during the decade-long cleanup of the Pacific Wood Treating property.

 

“It (already) has a measure of federal and state oversight, in that if someone were to do something with the lake it would trigger involvement of resource agencies, of which the Department of Ecology is one,” Grening said.

 

Kim Van Zwalenburg, who manages the shoreline program for the Department of Ecology, said Carty Lake was erroneously left off the county’s list during that initial process.

 

Carty Lake meets state requirements for it to be listed under the shoreline program, Van Zwalenburg said.

 

The county’s prosecuting attorney’s office appeared to agree Tuesday.

 

“Our office is uneasy with the notion that this is a shoreline but it wouldn’t be listed as such,” said Chris Cooke, the county’s deputy prosecuting attorney and legal counsel to the commissioners.

 

She said the port had been unclear about what regulatory hurdles it has a problem with and that not listing it created ambiguity.

 

County commissioners plan to readdress whether to place Carty Lake into its shoreline program at the end of the 90-day period.

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