Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Around the Sound: Volunteers help restore Port Gamble Bay

By Seth Preston, communications manager, Toxics Cleanup Program

Volunteers clean up debris near Point Julia. (Photo by Celina Abercrombie)

Olympia oysters (photo courtesy of Taylor Shellfish Farms)
Volunteers hit the beaches around Port Gamble Bay on June 14 as part of an effort to clean up and restore the bay and its surrounding shores.

In all, 56 local residents and others spent the morning working to pull tires, trash, old fishing gear, and other debris off the beaches around Point Julia.

Here's a set of good photos taken by Don Willott of the Kitsap Audubon Society.

The Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe put together the event; the tribe and our Toxics Cleanup Program are working together to remove debris from the bay's waters and shores.

Saving Puget Sound

 Port Gamble is one of the bays we're focusing on under the Puget Sound Initiative. The restoration and preservation work also includes:
  • Removing creosote-treated pilings at Point Julia, Martha John Estuary and other locations.
  • Studying what can be done to restore Port Gamble's herring population, which has been declining for over 10 years.
  • Restoring Olympia oyster populations to support restoration of Washington's only native oyster.
  • Restoring riparian vegetation along the shores and eelgrass in the waters to support fish and other aquatic organisms.

Cleanup also coming

At the same time, we're continuing to work with Pope Resources to design a cleanup of pollution caused by historical operations at the old Pope & Talbot forest products mill on the bay. The mill operated from 1853 to 1995 before closing.

We expect in-water cleanup work to start in summer 2015.

Aerial view of old mill site at Port Gamble. (Ecology photo)

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