Members of Camas’ newly formed community advisory group will meet this week to kick off their work guiding public participation during the state’s environmental cleanup of the historic Camas paper.
The Downtown Camas Association (DCA) last month named eight community members from a pool of 65 applicants to sit on the 11-person advisory group.
“We are grateful that so many people want to be involved in this process,” said DCA Executive Director Carrie Schulstad. “We are committed to being inclusive and ensuring the advisory committee can function effectively and achieve its goals within the timeframe we’ve been provided.”
The newly appointed community members include April Berlin, Marquita Call, Kalani Cox, Isaac Dizon, Randal Friedman, Mark Nickerson, Marty Snell and Steve Young. They will join DCA Chairperson Caroline Mercury and two representatives from the city of Camas and the Port of Camas-Washougal to form the advisory group.
While the Washington State Department of Ecology and Georgia-Pacific nail down the specifics and scope of the environmental cleanup, the advisory group will review technical materials, supervise the work of the DCA’s public-involvement consultant and encourage public participation in the mill cleanup process.
“There will be many opportunities to be involved outside of participating in the advisory group. The community will have access to information to learn about the mill site, and as things move along, be able to provide input and have questions answered,” Schulstad said.
Last year, Camas residents and officials urged the state’s Department of Ecology to push for more restrictive environmental cleanup standards at the Georgia-Pacific paper mill in downtown Camas, the public will soon be able to weigh in on the mill’s future environmental cleanup efforts.
“The mill has been an active part of our community for over a century, and the site continues to be key for Camas and the region,” Schulstad said then. “It’s critical that we get our community involved in its future, including how any contamination is cleaned up, since this influences how the site could be redeveloped one day.”
During an April 20, 2021, hearing before Ecology, Ellen Burton, Camas’ former interim mayor, said the future of the mill site would likely not belong to the city’s “heavy industrial” category.
“The Camas-Washougal community and the city of Camas have benefited from over a century of economic activity and partnership with the GP paper mill under various owners. We want this beneficial partnership to continue today and in the future,” Burton told Ecology staff during the April 20 public hearing. “Nevertheless, when the mill is no longer a viable enterprise we want to guarantee the Department of Ecology, GP and the community have proactively partnered to position us well for the next chapter. This chapter is mixed-used of both commercial and residential where all community members can enjoy the property, not heavy industrial.”
Schulstad has said the advisory group’s work is critical to keeping the community up-to-date on the state’s environmental cleanup plan for the mill.
“The advisory group will be a big part of helping us reach all corners of the community and provide strong, informed feedback to Ecology as they investigate and plan for cleanup,” Schulstad said in December 2021.
The advisory group will meet every other month through the summer of 2023. The meetings are open to the public and agendas – as well as links to the remote meetings – will be available online the week of the upcoming meeting at downtowncamas.com/CamasWaMillInfo.
The advisory group will meet remotely, on Zoom, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 13. The agenda includes introductions and an overview of the project and its timeline. The group also plans to discuss its vision and goals, and discuss key messages and a timeline for a public involvement plan. The public can watch the meeting on Zoom or call 1-253-215-8782. The meeting ID is 891 3528 5994.