'We adamantly oppose this project'

Tribal representatives cite cultural resources, environmental impacts of IRG's five-warehouse development

Two members of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians made impassioned statements against IRG’s warehouse proposals during the Feb. 12, 2021, Section 106 consultation meeting convened by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. They stated the Tribe's opposition on cultural resources and environmental grounds.

Every day, tribes are asked to negotiate a cultural site of burial grounds and other sacred sites impacted by development, said Jennifer Keating, a member of the Puyallup Tribe who works for the tribe as a land-use planner and assistant Tribal Historic Preservation Officer. "Sadly, even with opposition against, the tribes are often paved over and destroyed ... for the record, I’d like to say the tribe, for cultural resource reasons, opposes this project. There’s no mitigation for that."

Keating also spoke about the environmental impacts that will be created by IRG's five warehouses on the campus.

“To say that there are no environmental impacts here is disturbing to the point that it literally makes me shaking mad,” she said. “We adamantly oppose this project for natural resource impacts. I’d like to state for the record that treaty-protected fishing rights are nonnegotiable.”

Her colleague, Angela Dillon, who works in fisheries for the tribe, noted that Hylebos Creek (whose east branch begins on the campus) "is one of the most significant streams to us. Any sort of development in the Hylebos watershed is very concerning, any downstream impacts and cumulative impacts that it might have are going to be of great concern to us," Dillon added.

The Puyallup Tribe has expended so many resources restoring and conserving habitat in its usual and accustomed areas, Dillon said, "and projects like this can offset those efforts that we’ve been making.”

The Puyallup Tribe previously made comments in opposition to IRG's development proposal as part of the City of Federal Way's environmental review for Warehouse A, but also referred to all five warehouses that IRG plans to build on the campus:

"These proposals, in their totality, encompass almost 2 million square feet of new warehouses and commercial buildings, located on 6 contiguous parcels under common ownership.  It continues to allude us why the agencies and city are bifurcating these development proposals, other than to circumvent environmental review and analysis of impacts.  We strongly disagree with the decisions to review these proposals separately," wrote Char Naylor, assistant habitat director/water quality program manager for the Puyallup Tribe.

"The filling of wetlands in the Building A and Building B footprints and adjacent parking areas not only will permanently impact site wetland hydrology," Naylor wrote, "but will also impact downstream flows to Hylebos Creek.  ESA [Endangered Species Act] species, including steelhead, chinook and bull trout utilize the Hylebos system and the Tribe and others have spent millions of dollars to restore over the last several decades."

"Preservation of base flows to the creek and moderation of stream temperature are of paramount importance to the Tribe."