Gordon meets with Quinaults over lake closure

TAHOLAH — County Commissioner Frank Gordon says he had an “emergency” meeting with Quinault Indian Nation President Fawn Sharp on Monday to discuss ways that Lake Quinault could be re-opened.

Gordon cleared his schedule and drove out to Taholah to meet with Sharp and members of the nation’s council.

“I think the meeting went really, really well and they are looking to get a vote together that could get the lake open again,” Gordon said. “We won’t know until the vote happens. I’m excited to re-open communications with the Quinault. President Sharp and I go back years as friends and I think we work well together.”

The Quinault Indian Nation closed the lake to all swimming and boating for non-tribal members, citing environmental concerns. Gordon said he has heard from many residents and business owners in the area concerned that the closure is unfair. One question that Gordon says he asked Sharp, is why does the closure only impact non-tribal members? Why is the lake safe enough for tribal members?

“I asked those questions,” Gordon said. “And they are checking on some answers and will get back to me.

The Quinaults also closed fishing on the lake for all non-tribal members.

“I think there could be a pollution problem, but they are going to try and meet us halfway and get something going on here,” Gordon said.

Environmental Health Director Jeff Nelson said in a Monday morning meeting briefing that he doesn’t have any firm reports on septic problems into the lake, but the county would respond if anything was pointed out. Although the county has jurisdiction on the southshore of the lake, the lake, itself, is managed by the Quinaults.

Stephen Carter, a spokesman with Congressman Derek Kilmer’s Office, says that Kilmer is aware of the situation, the office has received calls from constituents and he’s looking at the issue.