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Originally published Thursday, March 19, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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Taylor Shellfish seeks $4.5M in tideland dispute

Taylor Shellfish wants the state to fork over nearly $4.5 million to replace revenue the company claims it lost by not having access to disputed property near Olympia.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Taylor Shellfish wants the state to fork over nearly $4.5 million to replace revenue the company claims it lost by not having access to disputed property near Olympia.

The company, based in Shelton, Mason County, filed a damages claim Wednesday against the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) as part of an ongoing battle over ownership of tidelands used for oyster and geoduck farming.

Last year Taylor was found to be growing shellfish on state tidelands. The company said it believed the land was its property, but DNR has said Taylor was illegally trespassing on state land. Taylor has sued to seek ownership rights to about 25 acres that hold valuable geoduck clams and oysters.

"DNR's assertion of ownership to these tidelands has restricted our use of property that we have claimed ownership to all along," President Bill Taylor said in a news release. "As a result, we've been prohibited from farming, planting and harvesting our products and we've been damaged."

Most of the $4.5 million sought is for missed opportunity from not being able to plant geoduck clams on the property this year while the dispute has played out.

DNR officials say the disputed property belongs to the state and that Taylor should pay for the use of the land. State Public Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark has said he wants to find a solution outside of court.

Michelle Ma: 206-464-2303 or mma@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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