Letter to the editor: What does a future look like for Newaukum River watershed in Lewis County? 


Recent development activities along the banks of the Newaukum River near Interstate 5 are near a beautiful river, and an important one being a prone corridor for fish, salmon and land-based wildlife. 

Whether by design or cognitive dissonance, this area is already packed with gas stations, truck stops and fast food outfits. Yet the planners in Napavine seem determined to bring in more low-paying jobs and create bottlenecks of congestion, drugs, prostitution and crime.

They are harming the environment by putting dangerous chemicals near places that flood and transforming the county’s rural character into Seattle-like strip mall sprawl. 

Alarmingly, this area was closed to these types of developments until the planning committee decided to lift the moratorium. Why? What was the justification? Interestingly, I believe one of the leads in that planning department just happens to own some of the land being sold to outside developers. If true, this is clearly a conflict of interest and a caution about our rural ways of life while taking advantage of one’s position to extract money from the county and environment, while barring others from doing the same thing is something elected officials should be digging into.

This is clearly by the city council against the will of the people. Why are they allowing this to continue and ignoring the community to benefit from conveniently timed rule changes? Couple of the less than noble optics of these deals with the environmental degradation and the loss of habitat, and the potential for leaching and flooding that take all the chemicals associated with business out into the Chehalis River. Sprinkle in the moratorium and congestion, throw in a committee pushback and you have a recipe for disaster and for something that should be going forward, just in the right way. In addition, I hope the Tribal committees in the region have had a chance to weigh in on these proposals, because if traditional ecological knowledge has not been accounted for, then this project is something from the bygone era of “develop at all cost, give the people low-wage jobs, and destroy the environment and no one can stop us.”

Forget fishing for salmon in the river, but you can fill up with eight options and buy a deep-fried chicken wing instead. We can do better for our future. I believe in growth but there has to be balance.


Angie Sawyer