Save the Cedar River, a nonprofit that sprung up from residents opposing the planned asphalt plant on State Route 169/Maple Valley Highway, recently announced that it was awarded a $20,000 grant from Patagonia.
The grant is part of the company’s World Trout Initiative. Members of the nonprofit found out about the grant after visiting the Seattle Patagonia store. Kate Bauwer, a resident of unincorporated Renton, helped write the grant application for Save the Cedar River. Bauwer said she knew many groups would be applying to this grant since the source of funding is well-known in the nonprofit world, and that everyone is excited to see Save the Cedar River was a recipient and being supported by Patagonia.
The group opposing the asphalt plant permit formed a 501-C3 nonprofit Save the Cedar River in March 2019, after working together for almost a year-and-a-half. Bauwer said the nonprofit intends to save the money for the possible legal battle they will face as they fight the permitting of the proposed plant, pending that the permit is approved. Patagonia confirmed that the group received the grant, but was unable to provide someone for interview by press deadline.
The World Trout Initiative grant funds work for wild, self-sustainable trout, salmon and other fish species within their native range. Specifically, the work either restores native river habitats, eliminates irresponsible aquaculture and pollution, and/or provides unassisted fish passage to and from historically accessible habitats. The Cedar River, which flows from the Cascades east of Maple Valley into Lake Washington in Renton, is home to sockeye, coho and Chinook salmon, as well as steelhead and trout. Many efforts have been made to support, protect and create awareness of the salmon in the river.
Lakeside Industries, an Issaquah-based company, wants to move one of its plants from Covington to the Maple Valley Highway site, near both unincorporated Renton and Maple Valley. It acquired the property in 2016 for $9.5 million, according to King County property records.
In October 2017, residents took notice of the proposed land use action of the asphalt plant, in the location of an old landscaping company. Bauwer said they don’t oppose Lakeside asphalt plants or jobs, but oppose the location chosen and believe the placement is illegal.
“You can throw a rock and you’ll hit the Cedar River,” Bauwer said. “Fish and asphalt don’t mix.”
Lakeside has stated that asphalt does not harm people or fish and that the plant will use the latest technology to ensure clean stormwater runoff. The asphalt is created using a mixture of heated rock and oil to create the material, Lakeside previously told Covington Reporter that contrarily to how some perceive the process, it is not similar to oil refining. Lakeside has also stated the plant emits steam, and less emissions in one year than a commercial bakery produces in a month.
Still, opponents say the industrial zoning so close to the Cedar River needs to be revisited. King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn worked to get extensions on the public comment period, a six-month moratorium and in a previous interview with Covington Reporter said he was disheartened that the project was moving forward on an environmentally sensitive parcel.
There has been several delays in the permit as the King County Department of Permitting and Environmental Review requests more information from Lakeside.
Bauwer said they expect to hear about the permit again in March. It could be accepted, rejected or delayed again. In the meantime, she said, Save the Cedar River will be out on the highway monthly to protest.
“The efforts of our community, and everybody’s work on this project, have delayed the plant by over two years. That’s an incredible accomplishment in and of itself,” Bauwer said.
More information on the nonprofit is available at savethecedarriver.org.