County sets requirements for Cherry Point site repair

Published on Wed, Sep 14, 2011 by Jeremy Schwartz

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Whatcom County planing staff have laid out a number of requirements that a Seattle-based shipping terminal company and its subcontractor must complete to repair damage done to wetlands and forests at the site proposed for the multimillion-dollar shipping terminal south of Birch Bay.

The requirements for SSA Marine and its subcontractor, AMEC Earth and Environmental, include reforesting the approximately 9 acres that were damaged and replanting native plants that will help the area return to its former condition.
Specifically, the county is giving SSA Marine until March 31, 2014, to reforest the land which, according to Washington state law, means planting an average of 190 healthy saplings per acre. These saplings must be allowed to grow undisturbed for at least one growing season.

Whatcom County Planning and Development Services set forth these requirements  after dirt roads were graded and trees were cleared in the area without the proper permits. If SSA Marine fails to meet these requirements by that date, county planning officials will inform the state Department of Natural Resources that the land has been “converted to nonforestry uses,” which could trigger a six-year development moratorium on the land.

The unpermitted work was done in connection with the proposed $600 million Gateway Pacific Terminal, which is slated to transfer millions of tons of products such as coal and grain from trains to bulk-container ships bound for Asian markets. SSA Marine commenced unpermitted geotechnical surveys of the area in July and was ordered to stop by the county soon afterward.