Environment & Natural Resources

Our Environment & Natural Resource Strategies Group is dedicated to the reality that environmental compliance and management can be a productive cooperative endeavor where the parties work out lasting solutions and develop valuable long-term relationships. We work hard to understand our clients' needs and solve their problems, achieve results, and develop relationships that help clients accomplish their goals more effectively in the future.

The Environment & Natural Resource Strategies Group specializes in three areas. First, we continue to be on the cutting edge in mediation and complex negotiation, particularly in the area of natural resource controversies. Second, we have significant experience with natural resource law and strategies for implementing those laws, including such practice areas as the Endangered Species Act, water law, Indian law, forestry practices, fisheries, mitigation and permit compliance, and habitat restoration. Finally, we continue to have exceptional success in developing and obtaining permits for projects. We provide strategic advice and can help develop relationships with and among key parties, including businesses, tribes, and state, local and federal governments. We have a proven track record of success.

Law

Group members have the experience and resources to analyze and solve the complex legal issues that surround policy, business and natural resource issues. The firm provides a full range of legal services including business, banking, real estate, land use, and litigation from offices in Tacoma and Seattle, which greatly enhance the Environment & Natural Resource Strategies Group's ability to help clients achieve their goals. Areas we focus on include:

The Group

The strength of the Environment & Natural Resource Strategies Group emanates from the people who make up the team. They are innovative, intelligent, resourceful, pragmatic and respectful people who are committed to solving problems and seeing a job through to completion. Our success stems from crafting and executing strategies tailor-made for each client and situation. We listen to the client's needs, and we get results.

Representative Experience

  • In the Puyallup Indian Land and Jurisdictional Claims Settlement, one of the largest Indian settlements in the country, the Resource Strategies Group served as the lead negotiator representing Pierce County, the Port of Tacoma, the cities of Tacoma, Fife and Puyallup, and private landowners and businesses. Spanning six years, this complex, multi-party effort required identification of the key issues and claims to be resolved, legal and historical research, strategic and policy planning, and the involvement and commitment of all affected parties. The negotiations resulted in a comprehensive $162 million settlement package approved and funded by the U.S. Congress, the Washington State legislature, local governments, and private parties, in exchange for the Puyallup Indian Tribe's agreement to relinquish claims to large expanses of land in the Tacoma area. Key to this success was our ability to build and maintain relationships, understand the needs of each party, and develop creative solutions throughout the process.

  • The Environment & Natural Resource Strategies Group represented Seattle-based SSA Marine, Inc. in reaching an agreement with the Puyallup Tribe to develop and operate a 180-acre shipping container terminal at the Port of Tacoma. In addition to representing SSA Marine during the negotiations, our group drafted the documents structuring the agreement and will remain involved in implementing its terms, obtaining permits, and providing advice on environmental, land use, business, and tax issues.

  • For three years former Governor Gary Locke retained members of our group to serve as his water policy advisor on numerous major water policy issues in Washington State. In 1990, we managed the Washington State Water Resources Planning Process which resulted in agreement among 175 participants to resolve water resource planning issues through a cooperative process amongst tribal, state and local governments, private business, environmental and recreational advocates, commercial and sports fishermen, and the agricultural community.

  • We helped negotiate the "Monterey Agreement," resolving long-standing disputes between agricultural and municipal water contractors over water allocations in the California State Water Project. In 2005 we helped a number of parties resolve a major water quality dispute in the San Joaquin River Basin in California that had been in litigation since 1964. We also successfully mediated negotiations among the federal and state water contractors in California -- the Bureau of Reclamation and the California Department of Water Resources -- that resolved a number of major outstanding issues concerning the operation of the Central Valley Project and the State Water Project.

  • In 1992 we negotiated a settlement agreement between the Lewis County Public Utility District and various groups opposing the construction of the Cowlitz Falls Hydroelectric Dam Project in Lewis County, Washington. The settlement provided a conservation program, fisheries protection, and a rate structure acceptable to all parties, ending the opposition to construction. Now completed and operational, it is the only hydro project of its size to be permitted and built in Washington State in the last 15 years.

  • Other past or current group projects include: facilitating negotiations among water districts in California to develop a regional groundwater management plan; helping to develop a three-county transportation plan in the Puget Sound region; coordinating and assisting federal, state, and tribal hatchery reform efforts in Puget Sound, coastal Washington and the Columbia River basin; facilitating the conclusion of Washington State's Timber/Fish/Wildlife agreement, in which timber owners, environmentalists, and tribal interests collaborated to establish timber-harvest rules that preserved environmental values; and developing and helping implement a comprehensive Environmental Master Plan for the Thea Foss Waterway, a former Superfund site on the Tacoma waterfront.