A fight has been brewing over the fate of a beautiful estuary just north of Purdy Spit. On one side of the tug-of-war is Taylor Shellfish Co., which owns the leases and is turning the beaches into an industrial shellfish farm. On the other side are the residents and environmentalists looking on and wanting to preserve a pristine estuary while we can.
Already it’s too late. The tidal pools were raked flat and the creatures within them were removed. Clams were then seeded, and huge nets were spread over the top so birds couldn’t eat the clams. The nets feel like “no trespassing” signs to beach walkers. Out in the middle of the lagoon, there are now hundreds of plastic oyster grow bags sitting on the beach, busy looking unnatural in a natural setting. For most of the last 10 summers or so, when oysters were harvested the growers would load those oysters into 4-by-4-foot metal cages, and they would sit on the beach for a couple of days until they were picked up. I remember one Labor Day weekend counting 45 big steel cages in the middle of the bay. The prospect of further industrialization of aquaculture will have even more impact on our boating activities and access to beaches.
But the biggest threat and the ugliest, noisiest, and most heart-wrenching change will be the introduction of geoducks. Taylor is seeking a permit to turn 25.5 of our beautiful acres in Burley Lagoon into acres and acres of either PVC pipes or HPDE plastic net tubes — both of which are unsightly and can end up being swept out onto surrounding beaches or pushed up into marshlands in rough waters. If you live anywhere near a geoduck farm in Puget Sound, you have seen this plastic pollution on our shorelines.
The planting and harvesting of geoducks involve the use of diesel-powered pressurized hydraulic wands that either aid in the planting or aid in the harvesting, but in both instances they liquefy the substrate and send a plume of sand into the water column, endangering forage fish and migrating salmon.
The residents of Burley Lagoon are trying to stop this, and we need your help. Please visit www.friendsofburleylagoon.org
Karen McDonell, Burley Lagoon
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