Will geoduck buck stop here?

North Kitsap Commissioner Chris Endresen is hopeful the Shoreline Hearings Board will back the county’s most recent decision on geoducks.

In late June, the county commissioners unanimously voted to uphold a hearing examiner’s decision to deny the Washington State Department of Natural Resources a development permit application.

DNR wanted to harvest more than a million pounds of geoducks a year from county waters for the next five years. Kitsap County said no, and now DNR has appealed to the Shoreline Hearings Board.

“The Hearing Examiner denied it,” Endresen said. “He answered all of our (follow-up questions), and we upheld his decision.”

Endresen said it was possible the Shoreline Hearings Board could “overturn us,” as it did a decade ago.

That dispute between the county and DNR was settled out of court.

If the Shoreline Hearings Board does overturn the local decision, Endresen said the matter would be once again appealed to a higher court.

“The next step would be the (Washington State) Superior Court,” she said. “And if we’re upheld, I would expect the DNR to appeal to the Superior Court.”

This latest conflict with DNR was precipitated when the state didn’t agree with the county’s request to hire an independent agency to conduct a review of the state’s harvest proposal. The state suggested the county go through the Department of Ecology for a review.

“The bottom line is the county requires property owners to hire experts and the state should be held to the same standards as citizens,” Endresen said.

Endresen has characterized the state’s position (on wanting Ecology to do the independent review of the DNR’s proposal) as the “fox guarding the henhouse.”

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