Whatcom County Executive Pete Kremen’s effort to get federal help in resolving the Lummi Island ferry stalemate appears to be bearing fruit.
Both Kremen and U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Everett, have shared a March 2 letter sent to the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, over the signatures of Larsen and U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, concerning the ferry situation.
The letter, addressed to BIA regional director Stanley Speaks in Portland, Ore., seems mild enough. The three say they are “concerned about this matter,” and they ask the BIA to respond to the county and provide “guidance and clarification on the BIA’s role as it relates to the lease of the tidelands held in trust.”
In an accompanying press release, Larsen uses somewhat stronger language:
“The bottom line is, we can not cut off access to the island for residents who depend on the ferry to go to school, shop for groceries or commute to work. Shutting down the ferry is not a solution to this problem. Negotiations on this issue must resume so a productive solution to this issue can be reached without hurting the local community.”
By coincidence, both Kremen and Lummi Indian Business Council Chairman Clifford Cultee are in Washington D.C., and Kremen said he expects to meet with Cultee on Friday, March 4 to discuss the ferry situation.
Up to now, the BIA has shown no inclination to get involved in the ferry issue. Agency officials have said their only role would be to review any new lease agreement between Lummi Nation and the county before it is approved. Here’s an earlier story on the BIA’s role.