Suquamish Indian Tribe of the Port Madison Reservation, Washington

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A major dredging project by the U.S. Navy has been given the go-ahead by the Bremerton City Council, which rejected an appeal of a conditional-use permit by the tribe March 29. The Navy wants to begin dredging parts of Sinclair Inlet on the south side of Bremerton to make way for an aircraft carrier pier. The tribe contends environmental protections in the project aren't strong enough. The permit will be reviewed by the state Department of Ecology. Following Ecology's decision, the tribe will have 21 days to make its case to the state Shoreline Hearings Board. "Personally, I'm a lot more optimistic about DOE and the hearings board taking a serious look at the tribe's appeal,'' tribal lawyer Scott Wheat said. "Both have specialties in that area.'' The proposed eight-month dredging for the pier and ship-turning basins would involve removal of about 425,000 cubic yards of sediment, Navy documents show. Wheat said the tribe wants to ensure the project causes no loss of habitat or fishing. The conditional-use permit, he said, does not include specific mitigation requirements for the dredging. The tribe's reservation is located about 10 miles north of Bremerton on the Kitsap Peninsula.