In a release from the Quinault Indian Nation, a decision by the United States Court of Federal Claims has upheld that the Quinault Indian Nation owns Lake Quinault.
In a release from QIN, they announced that a decision was made by the judge to dismiss a lawsuit that sought to revoke the ownership of Lake Quinault from the nation.
The case, Landreth v. United States, was issued by Hoquiam resident Thomas Landreth, a land owner along the lake, who states that Lake Quinault is a navigable waterway and therefore should be open to the public.
The release stated that this lawsuit, and others, have originated from various property owners at the lake’s edge who challenged decisions made by the nation.
In the past, the Quinault Indian Nation has stated that they have sovereignty over the lake itself, and have closed fishing and access to non-tribal members.
Landreth states that despite the claims of jurisdiction, the QIN do not maintain control over the lake and asked the court to determine the status of property rights of land-owners and the public to lake and land access.
In a document from July 24 Judge Patricia E. Campbell-Smith concluded at the time that the court lacked the jurisdiction to consider the plaintiff’s complaint.
In 2017 the QIN stated that the Washington State Court of Appeals rejected a claim that Lake Quinault is owned by the State and the Nation had no stake in the lawsuit.
Landreth, in the recent case, alleged that the Quinault Indian Tribe committed eight “Causes of Action” against him, including;
Landreth asked for declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as “monetary damages related to the loss of use of legally obtained real property and the trespass by the Quinault Indian Tribe/Nation”.
The QIN says that conflict between the owners and the nation has emerged following actions they say are being done “to protect the lake”, including invasive species prevention from zebra and quagga mussels and knotweed, which have forced closures of the lake to certain areas and groups.
Closures have also come to the fishing, as QIN ended the commercial Blueback fishery for 2019 for the second consecutive year for conservation purposes to restore the species.
In the federal finding, it states that the complaint is being dismissed due to a number of reasons establishing the jurisdiction of the United States Court of Federal Claims.
KXRO was told that the case is being appealed.
The QIN said in their release that they will continue to place safeguards on water access, including closing access of 23 miles of shoreline and beaches to non-tribal individuals.