OLYMPIA — The Squaxin Island Tribe has taken more than 20 years of studies and developed a resource to restore Budd Inlet. “We’ve taken every technical report, assessment and action plan written and come up with the ultimate Budd Inlet resource,” said Scott Steltzner, a biologist for the Squaxin Island Tribe.

Rather than writing a top to bottom restoration plan, the tribe created a way for practically any group to find out where to best apply their efforts. “This isn’t a straight up and down list of priority projects, but rather a way to find the project that’s right for a particular budget or effort,” Steltzner said. “If you have $25,000 and want to restore a shoreline, we can find a project for you. Or, if you have want to do projects that benefit shorebirds or forage fish, this tool can help you develop a strategy..”

“This tool will give stakeholders a way to effectively plan the restoration of Budd Inlet,” said Andy Whitener, natural resources director for the tribe.

“We also hope this can jump start a public discussion on how to restore Budd Inlet, on what we think is important,” Whitener said.

Budd Inlet in deep south Sound is part of the tribe’s treaty reserved fishing area. “Budd Inlet has always been an important place for the tribe,” Whitener said. The tribe’s name for the Budd Inlet watershed is Steh-Chass, which means “rock.””

“Our treaty-reserved rights to the region’s natural resources depend on the ecological health of places like Budd Inlet,” Whitener said. “We want to be able to share the best science to get us to a clean and healthy marine ecosystem.”

Problems facing Budd Inlet include a lack of salmon rearing habitat along riprapped shoreline, and water quality problems including low dissolved oxygen levels.

The tribe intends the result of their work to be useful by any local government or organization that wants to take on a piece of restoring the inlet. “Anyone should be able to pick up this document and use it to finish a piece of the puzzle,” Steltzner said. “To really clean up Budd Inlet will take everyone’s involvement, so we wanted to create as open a solution as possible.”

Restoring Budd Inlet is a high priority for the Squaxin Island Tribe. “We don’t have the luxury to write off some places to urban development. We are bound by treaty and tradition to deep South Sound,” Whitener said. “We know that bringing this place back to health is going to take cooperation from many different groups and people. We hope this research a big step in that direction.”

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For more information, contact: Scott Steltzner, biologist, Squaxin Island Tribe, (360) 432-3803. Jeff Dickison, policy analyst, Squaxin Island Tribe (360) 432-3815. Emmett O’Connell, information officer, NWIFC, (360) 528-4304, eoconnell@nwifc.org