Quileute higher ground legislation passes Senate, heads for presidential signature

By:  Staff Writer
Source: The Peninsula Daily News

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A land-exchange bill identical to legislation that overwhelmingly passed the House on Feb. 6 was approved unanimously in the U.S. Senate late Monday, virtually guaranteeing that the Quileute tribe can move key facilities out of the LaPush tsunami zone.

The legislation was approved 381-7 in the House on Feb. 6, and now goes to President Barack Obama for his signature, said Janeen Heath, a spokeswoman for Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington.

The House bill introduced by Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Belfair, and passed by the Senate does not include provisions of a previous Senate bill — which was co-sponsored by Cantwell, D-Mountlake Terrace, and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Bothell — that would have designated 4,100 acres at Lake Crescent as wilderness, Heath said.

The legislation gives the tribe 785 acres of Olympic National Park to move the tribal headquarters, school, day-care center and elder center from a tsunami zone to higher ground.

In return, the Quileute tribe will ensure public access to Rialto, Second and other popular beaches that are reached by trails that wind through tribal land.