The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community has been a steward of the Skagit River's water and fish for thousands of years.
Over the years, development in the Skagit River basin has led to substantial declines it its salmon runs, in part due to reductions in stream flows necessary for spawning, rearing and migration. Three species native to the Skagit system - Chinook, coho, and steelhead - are now listed under the Endangered Species Act.
In 1996, Swinomish entered into a water-sharing agreement with Skagit County, the City of Anacortes, the Skagit Public Utilities District, the Washington Department of Ecology, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and two other Native American tribes.
Under the terms of that agreement, Swinomish agreed not to challenge certain water rights owned by the City of Anacortes and the Skagit County Public Utilities District - which supply the most of the County's population - for 50 years.
In accordance with the 1996 agreement, Ecology adopted an instream flow rule for the Skagit River in 2001. Although Skagit County was a party to the 1996 agreement, it sued Ecology to challenge the rule.
In order to settle that lawsuit, Skagit County and Ecology made a secret agreement to amend the 2001 Rule to provide for additional reservations of water for exempt wells, agricultural use, and municipal, commercial and industrial use and to close the tributary subbasins to all new, unmitigated groundwater withdrawals when the reservations are used up. It is the Skagit County/Ecology agreement and not the 1996 agreement that resulted in the current Carpenter/Fisher subbasin closure.
Swinomish will continue to fight to protect the Skagit River and its tributaries, and the six species of salmon that call the river home, so that at all of us can share in nature's abundance.
To read the agreements and rules, click the links below or on the buttons in the sidebar.