For reasons that most Seattle/Tacoma residents do not even consciously think about, when they think of traveling into the western slope forests for recreation, camping, fishing, hunting, etc., they are completely unaware of a huge, vast area, almost a secretive “Area 57”, to the southeast of Seattle and the northeast of Tacoma. The Cedar River (Seattle) watershed is mostly (but not completely) closed to the public. The Green river (Tacoma) watershed is completely closed to the public. The total acreage involved, owned and held by the “public”, but closed to the public for the stated purpose of protection of water supply, is staggering.
I grew up in Seattle, then Renton, and through my family began hunting and fishing at a very early age. My father also owned on a whim or by accident an undeveloped lot in the remote settlement of Lester. Our minor interest in Lester brought us in contact with the Tacoma Water Department very early on.
What is so surprising to me as I now look back on it is how often, as I first became aware of fishing and hunting conservation issues in only the most broad contexts in the 1950’s (I was 10), and started to read the newspapers, was how often the Tacoma Water Department was involved in major public controversy and how little , if anything, was ever heard about the Cedar River watershed and the Seattle Water Department. We also owned land in the Cedar River valley (but below the Utility holdings), so we also had “family interests” there as well. It continued to amaze me how often I still read about TWD controversies after I moved to Oregon, in Eugene papers!
The following is a listing, purely from memory, of the controversies I was aware of concerning the Tacoma Water Department from my earliest awareness. I will not vouch for the absolute accuracy of the details as I remember them of each incident. I have read the self commissioned history of the Tacoma Water Department book (available to the public), which confirms, from their own perspective at least, the broad outline of the conflicts.
The TWD wanted (needed, according to them) complete control of the entire watershed above the generally habitable valley floor. The community of Lester was an isolated small settlement high up in the watershed clustered around the small headwater Green River. The only access to and from
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