The Skokomish Tribe is targeting several lower Hood Canal beaches for restoration efforts this summer.
Shellfish populations near the mouths of the mainstem of the Skokomish River as well as Rendsland and Twanoh creeks have declined within the last decade, said Margaret Homerding, the tribe’s shellfish management biologist.

Amanda Stygar and Shane Miller survey Twanoh State Park for shellfish. Click on the photo for more photos.

“While the habitat restoration work for salmon at the mouths of these waterways has been important, the shellfish beds nearby have been either washed out because the streams are naturally shifting or they are being buried by the sediment washed out following restoration,” she said. “The shellfish species should recover, but it will take a long time.”

The shellfish restoration work includes mapping beach sediment, studying the beach slope, determining existing clam and oyster populations and surveying marine vegetation.

The tribe will determine if any of the beaches need to be modified before being seeded, such as adding gravel or shell to create a harder substrate that shellfish need. Hood Canal beaches are typically inhabited by Pacific and Olympia oysters and littleneck clams.

“Establishing this baseline of data will help us better determine the amount of clams and oysters available for harvest by tribal members and use the additional information we gather to help ensure healthy shellfish populations in the future,” she said.

Funding for this project comes from the Laird Norton Family Foundation.

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For more information, contact: Margaret Homerding, Skokomish Tribe shellfish management biologist, at (360) 877-5213, ext. 525 or mhomerding@skokomish.org; Tiffany Royal, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission information officer, at (360) 297-6546 or troyal@nwifc.org.