Mineral Lake

A goose flies over Mineral Lake in February.

After the YMCA of Greater Seattle handed in a pre-submission application to Lewis County Community Development seeking to develop a year-round campsite on Mineral Lake, Lewis County Fire District 9 in Mineral and some locals are feeling apprehensive about the proposed project.

The application, received by Lewis County Community Development on March 13, seeks to develop anywhere from 500 acres to 2,118 acres of land that stretches north of Mineral Lake over a 20-year period for a campsite that would ultimately support 400 campers and 100 staff members.

The 20-year development plan includes three phases, the first would kick off in 2021 and would support only 12 campers, then from 2022 to 2027 the camp will increase its capacity to 200 campers and 50 staff members before it ultimately reaches a capacity of 400 campers and 100 staffers from 2027 to 2040, according to the presubmission application.

The YMCA is looking to purchase the 2,118 acres, owned by Forecastle Timber, that covers the northern half of Mineral Lake’s waterfront, extends to the Nisqually river that runs adjacent to the property’s northern border, and is bordered by Mineral Hill Road to the west and Mineral Creek to the east, according to a map included in the YMCA’s pre-submission application.

A pre-submission conference between representatives of the YMCA of Greater Seattle and Lewis County Community Development was scheduled for April 2 but was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

In lieu of the meeting, Lewis County Community Development gathered comments from county personnel and other local agencies and answered questions submitted by the YMCA in a document that The Chronicle has obtained.

Bruce Richie, a fire commissioner for Fire District 9 in Mineral, wrote on behalf of the fire district that the department would not be able to provide adequate emergency services to all 2,118 acres of the proposed project.

Richie noted that the planned dock and water activities would require the department to acquire fire and rescue watercraft and additional training which it could not afford with it’s approximate annual budget of $54,000.

“Even if we had the additional funds, equipment and personnel, we would still be lacking fire hydrants, water supply and wide enough paved roads for our large fire engines, tenders and ambulances to reach all occupied areas and campsites in the proposed development,” Richie wrote.

The issue of an adequate water supply was also brought up by Lewis County. Sue Kennedy, a senior environmental health specialist for Lewis County Public Health and Social Services, wrote, “A well that produces water of sufficient quantity and quality may be problematic in this area.”

Kennedy provided previous well logs from the area that indicate attaining a water source capable of producing the water necessary to operate the camp could be troublesome.

She also noted that wells drilled deeply in the proposed area may encounter realgar, a volcanic formation that contains arsenic, a regulated contaminant due to its health impacts.

Additionally, Scott Pollock of the Washington State Department of Health’s Office of Drinking Water concluded that “Water quantity and/or quality could be potential deal breakers for the proposed development.”

Pollock wrote that the water source should be capable of supplying about 50 gallons of water per person per day for the duration of any intended events. In the YMCA’s pre-submission application, the organization estimated it would need about 30,000 gallons of water per day based upon existing water use from other regional camps.

The Mineral Lake Lions Club, a group of local leaders in Mineral, echoed many of the concerns Fire District 9 raised and also questioned how the YMCA intended on obtaining 30,000 gallons of water per day.

But the Lions Club was disappointed that the YMCA of Greater Seattle did not reach out to Mineral residents directly about their intentions before the nonprofit submitted their pre-submission application in March.

In a statement, the Lions Club wrote that while the organization does not represent the Mineral community as a whole, it believes its concerns reflect those of the community and surrounding areas.

“While we understand that the YMCA of Greater Seattle has no legal obligation to our organization or the residents of Mineral, we were disappointed that the community had not been contacted prior to their initial pre-submission application to Lewis County,” The Lions Club wrote in the statement.

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