Tribes take center stage in Puget Sound tour

Last week Gov. Chris Gregoire and other dignitaries toured sites during a tour promoting restoration of Puget Sound. Two of the stops were places where tribes have taken strong leadership roles.

First, the governor stopped at Oakland Bay in Mason County. From the News Tribune:

The nursery served as a backdrop as Shelton city officials talked about nearly $75 million in water and sewer projects designed partly to improve and protect water quality in the bay.

Many of the projects were made possible by federal stimulus money, Shelton Commissioner of Public Works Dawn Pannell said.

“When I hear people say the federal stimulus spending isn’t helping the economy, I get a little mad,” she said. “It’s made a huge difference here in Shelton.”

At the same time, Mason County officials, the Squaxin Island tribe, shellfish companies, and state and federal agencies have put a big dent in an explosion of bacterial contamination that in 2006 threatened to shut down shellfish harvesting in the bay, said John Konovsky, environmental program manager for the tribe.

Actions to fence livestock out of streams and repair and replace failing on-site septic systems in the watershed have made a big difference, he said.

“We have, at least for the moment, tamed the bacteria in Oakland Bay,” Konovsky said.

Here is more information on the Squaxin Island Tribe’s work on Oakland Bay water quality:
NWIFC: Squaxin Island Tribe recreating Oakland Bay to investigate bacteria
Squaxin NR Blog: Oakland Bay Improving, But Sustained Funding Needed

Second, the tour stopped at the Nisqually River estuary, where the Nisqually Tribe took a strong role in restoring important salmon habitat. Before the federal government restored 700 acres of estuary at the Nisqually National Wildlife refuge, the tribe restored habitat on property it owned.

Conceptualizing Native Place: Nisqually Estuary
Tacoma News Tribune: Making more marsh at Nisqually Delta

Here is a photo gallery of the visit to Nisqually.