Olympic National Park mea culpa: ‘Inholder’ blocked from family property
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Pearl Rains Hewett stands at a blockade on Olympic Hot Springs Road in Olympic National Park on Monday. -- Photo by Chris Tucker/Peninsula Daily News

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT ANGELES — A family with 91-year-old roots in Clallam County was denied vehicle access Saturday onto trust land they own within Olympic National Park.

Park officials Monday called the incident a misunderstanding.

Pearl Rains Hewett said Monday that as an “inholder” — an owner of private property within a national park — her sister, Violet Kono of Redmond, should have been allowed to drive Saturday to family property on the Elwha River that lay past a locked gate on Olympic Hot Springs Road, beyond which road construction was taking place.

Hewett was allowed to drive past the gate Monday after she contacted the Peninsula Daily News and the newspaper inquired about the incident.

“I would like the national park to be put on notice that you shouldn’t have to go to that extreme to have access to your property,” she said. “Inholders have rights. We pay taxes to Clallam County every year to property on the Elwha.”

Park Chief Ranger Collin Smith, who was out of town last week, was apologetic.

“There were some internal communication issues there,” Smith said Monday afternoon.

“Had I known the road was paved at that point, I would have told [Ranger] Sean [Davis] to let her go through. It was a misunderstanding. Where we made a mistake here is, we should have tried to provide access to them because they’re inholders.”

Olympic National Park has about 100 inholders mostly at Lake Crescent, Lake Ozette, Lake Quinault and the Oil City area near the mouth of the Hoh River, Smith said.

Olympic Hot Springs Road will be open to full vehicle access by Wednesday, he added.

For about three weeks, workers have been repairing the road’s Fisherman’s Corner in preparation for truck traffic generated by the tear-down of the Glines Canyon Dam and its sister edifice, the Elwha Dam, beginning Sept. 17.

Olympic Hot Springs Road leads to Glines Canyon Dam.

Traffic will be restricted along the road after Aug. 1 beginning just south of Altair Campground, which will remain open.

That’s when workers from Barnard Construction Co. Inc. of Bozeman, Mont., will begin traveling the road heavily and staging equipment for the $27 million removal of both dams, intended to restore the Elwha River’s sharply depleted salmon run.

Hewett said earlier Monday that her sister was told road construction was taking place and that no public vehicles were allowed beyond the gate, Hewett said.

While Davis was telling the 67-year-old Kono on Saturday morning that the only way she could reach her family property was to hike 2 to 3 miles, a representative of concessionaire Olympic Raft & Kayak and a park biologist unlocked the gate with their own keys and drove through, Hewett said.

“The worst part was they let a concessionaire up the road, but they won’t let an inholder in,” Hewett said, describing the family-trust property “a very beautiful, special and spiritual place” where family members gather for memorials and the Fourth of July.

Hewett contended that inholders, as in-park landowners, hold a different legal status than the general public.

“I think it’s important for us to object to private property rights being violated by anyone, especially when it’s a family that’s lived here for such a long time,” Hewett said.

Hewett’s grandfather, Osco Rains, was 6 when he and his family moved to Port Angeles in 1920, Hewett said.

At one point, the family owned 3,000 acres on the North Olympic Peninsula. They now own 900 acres.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-417-3536 or at paul.gottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: June 28. 2011 12:02AM
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