By Sam Merrill, Black Hills Audubon
A Missouri development company, NorthPoint, is seeking to rezone to industrial a 745-acre parcel of rare glacial outwash prairie owned by the Port of Tacoma (POT), but located just south of Millerslyvania State Park in Thurston County. NorthPoint has made a contingent offer to purchase this parcel in order to build a 6-million square-foot warehouse complex and cargo transfer center, which would abut the West Rocky Prairie wildlife preserve owned by WA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). The Thurston County Board of County Commissioners will make a decision, likely in January or February, whether to re-zone the POT property to Industrial, without which NorthPoint’s warehouse proposal cannot go forward.
Many citizens and organizations, including Friends of Rocky Prairie and Black Hills Audubon, seek to preserve this tract and protect it from development. The oak, prairie, and wetland habitat of this land can sequester carbon. The vegetation and the endangered and threatened species that this land can support should be protected, not replaced with a vast area of impervious surface.
Although educational and legal efforts will be pursued, you can weigh in by printing and signing and/or circulating a petition to the Thurston County Commissioners , opposing rezoning the land to Industrial. Even if you signed an online petition, physical signatures and personal emails or phone messages (see email addresses and phone numbers below) can carry more weight. Also encouraged are writing letters to the editor of The Olympian or other media outlets, and raising the issue at meetings and other gatherings of organizations with which you are involved.
Nearly all testimony at the POT Commission meeting on June 13 opposed postponement of NorthPoint’s purchase and sale agreement deadline — a postponement that would give Thurston County time to process NorthPoint’s rezoning application first. Despite all the opposing testimony, the POT Commissioners approved NorthPoint’s request for postponement.
The Coalition to Protect Rocky Prairie from NorthPoint’s Industrialization is leading the effort. Public expression of citizen concern supporting environmental protection can be most effective in convincing the County to uphold the current, citizen-initiated zoning of the POT’s Rocky Prairie parcel. For more information, see: www.FriendsOfRockyPrairie.org, which includes a fact sheet and map, as well as an opportunity to sign an online petition.
Contact information for Board of County Commissioners:
Comm. Hutchings: 360-357-2470
Comm. Edwards: 360-786-5747
Comm. Menser: 360-786-5414