YAKIMA – The Washington state Supreme Court has ruled that the Yakama Nation can move forward with its lawsuit to halt the expansion of a gravel mining project that they say could disrupt a tribal cultural and burial site.
The court ruled Thursday the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation filed a timely appeal against paving materials supplier Granite Northwest’s proposal to expand mining from 26 acres to more than 160 acres.
Granite Northwest has been seeking to expand after it announced it was running out of gravel at its Rowley Quarry to meet demands for road and construction projects.
The construction would cross into the north side of the Yakima ridge, dividing Yakima and Selah, an area the Yakama Nation said was once a tribal fishing village that included burial grounds.
Yakima County decided the expansion could proceed arguing the tribe had not filed an appeal of the county’s decision within the 21-day window required by the state’s land use petition act.
The Supreme Court disagreed and said the appeal was filed in a timely matter.
“The Yakama Nation maintains its inherent sovereign rights to its ancestors’ remains and cultural resources wherever they may be,” Tribal Council Chairman Delano Saluskin said.
The Yakama Nation began the appeal process after the county issued a conditional use permit and a State Environmental Policy Act determination of nonsignificance for the area in 2018.
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