Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe cleans tidelands for shellfish

The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe is re-using old cinderblocks to clean up popular shellfish beds and delineate harvest areas.

With crews from the Department of Ecology’s Washington Conservation Corps/Veterans Conservation Corps (WCC/VCC) and NW Straits Commission, tribal shellfish staff spent a week in July situating the concrete blocks and removing debris from Quilcene and Sequim bays.

In Quilcene Bay, hundreds of cinderblocks were left behind on the tidelands from an old oyster farm operation. Instead of hauling them out, the tribe reorganized them to create obvious harvest area boundaries.

“Boundaries need to be better defined on the beach for both tribal and non-tribal harvesters, especially at night, when it’s hard to see the boundary flags,” said Ralph Riccio, the tribe’s shellfish biologist. “The blocks are a great way to do that.”

Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe natural resources technician Casey Allen lays out cinderblocks to delineate shellfish harvest areas. For more pictures, click on the photo.
Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe natural resources technician Casey Allen lays out cinderblocks to delineate shellfish harvest areas in Quilcene Bay. For more pictures, click on the photo.

Debris removal included removing old boundary posts and oyster seed bags from Quilcene Bay, and tires from the banks of Sequim Bay, next to the tribal government campus.

“We wound up removing 45 tires from Sequim Bay, weighing more than 1,800 pounds, plus 240 pounds of styrofoam and plastic debris from Quilcene Bay,” said Paul Argites, the marine debris removal assistant from the NW Straits Commission.

“It’s a significant haul, but only a minor dent in the accumulation of marine debris in the Puget Sound,” Argites said. “The crew removes on average between 2,500-3,500 pounds of debris during a regular work week, so this cleanup is on par with previous cleanup projects.”

The work also was an opportunity to support jobs for veterans who are part of the WCC. The Washington Legislature provided funding to support hiring recently returning military veterans for beach cleanup work. The Corps created three specialized post-9/11 military veteran crews to survey the coastline and remove marine debris. The crews clean up backcountry areas of beaches that are difficult for volunteer crews to reach and provide volunteer event coordination. The WCC also is supported through grant funding and Education Awards provided by AmeriCorps.