Lake Quinault Ownership | Quinault Indian Nation

Lake Quinault Ownership Affirmed


Taholah, WAThe Federal Circuit Court of Appeals on January 10, 2020 affirmed the U.S. Court of Federal Claims dismissal of a lawsuit that sought to revoke the ownership of Lake Quinault from the Quinault Indian Nation. The July 24, 2019 dismissal by the Court of Federal Claims affirmed two prior court decisions rejecting the claim that the Quinault Nation has no jurisdiction over the lake.

“The court’s decision should mark the end of this misguided challenge to the Nation’s ownership of Lake Quinault and once again affirms our exclusive and sovereign right to manage the land and waters of our reservation,” said Quinault Nation President Fawn Sharp.

The string of failed court challenges to the Quinault Nation’s ownership of the lake stem from the opposition of a handful of property-owners to the Nation’s management safeguards to conserve and protect the clean water, habitat quality and access to the lake.

Lake Quinault Ownership | Quinault Indian Nation
Ballast water discharge from transoceanic ships is thought to be responsible for the long distance spread of zebra and quagga mussels from their original home ranges in eastern Europe

Of particular concern to the Nation is preventing the spread of invasive species, such as zebra and quagga mussels, and invasive noxious weeds like knotweed, which are transported by boats, trailers and other boating accessories.

Many of the safeguards regulating boating and other activities in and surrounding the lake, are part of the Quinault Nation’s priority to protect and restore Blueback salmon and the habitat they need to survive. The Nation in 2019 closed the commercial Blueback fishery for the second consecutive year for conservation purposes.

“We look forward to continuing our mission to keep the lake clean now and for future generations of the Quinault people and our neighbors and friends who live and own land along the lake,” added Pres. Sharp.

This latest ruling affirms the dismissal of the case on July 24, 2019 when the United States Court of Federal Claims ruled on procedural grounds. Although the suit was brought against the United States, it was based on claims against the Quinault Nation and the State of Washington. The court, however, has jurisdiction only over claims based on the actions of the United States.

In 2017 the Washington State Court of Appeals rejected a claim that Lake Quinault is owned by the State and the Nation had no stake in the lawsuit. The Court saw no merit in those arguments, noting “It is uncontested that the Nation claims an interest in the subject of this action: Lake Quinault. The treaty and executive order, both of which predate Washington statehood, evidence this claim.”  The Court of Appeals’ decision concurred with a prior federal court ruling in 2015.

January 13, 2020


For more information contact:

Fawn Sharp, President, Quinault Indian Nation,, (360) 276-8211, ext. 1329

Rose Enos-Weedmark, Exec. Assistant to the President,, (360) 276-8211, ext. 2010

Mark Glyde, Quinault Indian Nation Communications, (206) 227-4346,

Quinault Division of Natural Resources

Quinault Department of Fisheries

Lake Quinault Ownership | Quinault Division of Natural Resources

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