Pierce County officials, tribes continue pushback on airport sites

The Pierce County Council, along with the Nisqually and Puyallup Indian tribes, are continuing their push to halt the construction on a future airport in the region.

Last year, the Washington state Commercial Aviation Coordinating Commission recommended three sites for a new commercial airport in the state because the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is on track to exceed its capacity by 2050.

Two of the three potential locations are in central Pierce County and in east Pierce County. County officials have already sent a joint letter in October, 2022 objecting to the two greenfield spaces as a potential airport location.

In a new resolution, the Pierce County Council recommends the Washington state Legislature extend the final greenfield recommendation deadline for the commission.

“The mission of the [Commercial Aviation Coordinating Commission] was constrained due to inadequate funding and the pandemic outbreak, which limited its ability to provide suitable public outreach, and to examine air space constraints and built environments,” the resolution stated.

The resolution added that a commercial airport on either of the recommended greenfield sites will adversely affect rural communities and rural character in the areas.

The Puyallup Tribe of Indians penned a letter to the Commercial Aviation Coordinating Commission saying that either location hinders environmental and natural resources that the tribe consider important to its traditional way of life.

Juvenile salmon are incubated in a tribal fishery operation at Lake Kapowsin, which is within a potential airport construction area. The Puyallup Tribe also uses that site for ceremonial hunting.

The Nisqually Indian Tribe also emphasized the impact that airport construction would have on the local environment as well as the local salmon population in its own letter to the Washington state Department of Transportation. The tribe added that an airport in either location would hinder air and water quality of the rural land.

“Airports should be located in identified urban growth areas, not in rural areas dedicated to support those urban areas,” the Nisqually Indian Tribe wrote.

Final consideration on the resolution was made Tuesday during the next Pierce County Council meeting.

The Washington state Department of Transportation did not respond to The Center Square’s request for comment.


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