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News Roundup -- Liveaboard plan ‘accepted’/Park ladder taken down/Get funding to save salmon

Liveaboard plan ‘accepted’

While some Eagle Harbor liveaboards gear up to defend their lifestyle in court, the Bainbridge City Council on Monday accepted a backup plan.

The Eagle Harbor Anchoring and Mooring Plan was formally handed off from the Harbor Commission to the council, initiating deliberation that could establish the state’s first “open water marina.”

“I’d like to see the council approve the anchoring and mooring plan for those that want protection from hostile liveashores,” Harbor Commission member Paul Svornich said.

Liveaboards are technically in violation of state rules requiring boat dwellers to link up to an established marina, according to the state Department of Resources.

A local property-owner advocacy group is suing DNR to enforce those rules, charging that the harbor’s liveaboards are illegally anchored and frequently in violation of noise, littering and other rules.

Liveaboards generally contend their unregulated lifestyle is lived responsibly and has little impact on the environment or other residents.

The commission has worked to preserve the liveaboard lifestyle in some form by establishing a regulated marina within the harbor’s center. In accordance with DNR guidelines, liveaboards would lease portions of the harbor through the city and pay monthly fees.

But some liveaboards say they have a constitutional right to anchor in state-regulated waters and pledge to fight the state in court. Some also reject the city’s proposed plan, hoping it will fail and clear the way for a direct showdown with the state.

Some councilors had expressed reservations in taking on a plan that may not have the support of those it aims to help.

“It may put me in a position of imposing something on people who don’t want it,” said Councilwoman Debbie Vancil.

While most liveaboards aren’t keen on city and state efforts to regulate them, some will go along with the plan, said Svornich, who recently polled liveaboards about the plan.

“This (plan) allows those that prefer to stay a way to stay, and allows others to go to battle with DNR,” he said.

Councilman Bill Knobloch said expanding usage in Eagle Harbor necessitates the plan, which also sets rules for unoccupied and visiting vessels.

“It’s the wild, wild west in there,” he said. “We can’t have that situation with the present population circumstances.”

Knobloch said other boaters’ concerns – including vacationing visitors and rowing club members – should be considered along with those of liveaboards.

The council opted to “accept” the plan, but not “approve” it.

“It’s too big a question and we need more discussion,” said Vancil.

“We need to work it over and smooth it out,” agreed Knobloch.

– Tristan Baurick

Park ladder taken down

Some visitors to the West Port Madison Nature Preserve were surprised recently to find the bank-side ladder used to access the beach was gone.

Considered an insurance liability, the park district removed the cable ladder from the face of the bluff late last month.

“Our insurance adjuster told us to remove it immediately,” said park district Director Terry Lande. “It was tied to trees and was on a steep slope. It was a safety issue.”

But nature preserve regular Jerry Elfendahl wants the ladder returned.

“Their insurance adjuster is crazy,” he said. “I doubt some urban insurance adjuster is familiar with cable ladders and the blessings they provide.”

Prone to mudslides, the preserve’s bluff would likely not hold a staircase, Elfendahl and Lande agree.

But Elfendahl called the rope-and-beam ladder a “$200 solution that would not be destroyed by landslides, instead of a $50,000 (staircase) solution, which would be destroyed in a few years.”

Lande said there are no plans to replace the ladder or build a staircase.

Elfendahl contends residents will still seek access to the beach, putting their safety even more at risk.

“Why wouldn’t people go down there?” he asked. “It’s a beautiful, public beach. I’ve camped down there in the 1960s. I have friends who go down there to fish and I’ve been to a wedding there.”

Built over 10 years ago, Elfendahl said he’s seen “folks ranging from children to 85-year-olds with 35-pound packs...easily climb” the ladder.

No falls from the ladder have been reported, Lande said.

– Tristan Baurick

Get funding to save salmon

A community salmon fund is accepting applications through Aug. 26, for individual grants of up to $20,000 to stimulate small-scale, voluntary action by landowners, community groups and businesses to support salmon recovery.

A total of up to $120,000 is available, depending on matching funds provided by local sponsors.

The East Kitsap Community Salmon Fund, which includes Bainbridge Island and parts of the peninsula and Pierce County, was established by the Salmon Recovery Funding Board and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

The fund’s goal is to support salmon habitat restoration projects that have a substantial benefit to watershed health and nearshore areas. Applicants may be nonprofits, educational institutions, tribes or local governments.

Community groups without nonprofit status are encouraged to seek an eligible sponsor.

Projects must address salmon habitat restoration on private property, engage community groups as project sponsors and have a high likelihood of being self-sustaining.

Projects on public property may be considered if they have strong community involvement and serve as a model for similar efforts on private property.

Applicants must demonstrate that matching funds – in cash or in-kind contributions – are at least 50 percent of the total grant request.

The City of Bainbridge Island also has funds to help reduce the match requirement or increase the total award amount for projects benefiting the nearshore habitat on Bainbridge Island.

Successful applicants will be notified of awards by Nov. 15.

To get an East Kitsap Community Salmon Fund application, contact Autumn Salamack with Evergreen Funding Consultants at (206) 691-0700 or download one from www.nfwf.org/programs/eastkitsap.htm.

For more information about additional funds from the City of Bainbridge Island, contact Peter Namtvedt Best at 842-2552.

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