Nearly a month after prohibiting all non-tribal use of Lake Quinault, Quinault Indian Nation officials have once again allowed swimming in the lake. However, boating and fishing are still forbidden.
The tribe closed the lake to non-tribal fishing in April and prohibited other recreational activities in early June, citing environmental concerns in both cases. Quinault Indian Nation President Fawn Sharp released a statement Tuesday saying that although swimming restrictions had been lifted, lake-goers swim at their own risk.
“We remain concerned about the health and safety of those who choose to swim in our lake,” Sharp said. “We cannot recommend it, as we have found water quality problems associated primarily with non-tribal businesses and residences. Our Tribe cannot assume any responsibility of liability for those who choose to swim there.”
With the tribe not providing any specific information regarding pollution, some people questioned why the lake was closed — and why members of the Quinault Indian Nation were still allowed to swim, boat and fish.
Some business owners on the lake expressed concerns over decreased profits if the lake were to remain closed.
Steve Robinson, a spokesman for the tribe, said tribal officials’ decision to re-open the lake to non-tribal swimming came from a debate about fairness.
“There have been a lot of discussions and a lot of meetings taking place,” Robinson said. “And the doctrine of fairness was discussed. A lot of people decided that it was only fair that if the native people were allowed to swim, everyone should be.”