DNR brings in chopper help to clean Puget Sound beach

DNR restoration specialist Kristian Tollefson waits for a load of debris to be brought in via helicopter. Photo: Joe Smillie, DNR.
DNR restoration specialist Kristian Tollefson waits for a load of debris to be brought in via helicopter. Photo: Joe Smillie, DNR.

With some whirlybird help, DNR crews spent the past week cleaning out one of the primary catch traps of the Puget Sound kitchen sink.

Crews cleared about 120 tons of that debris that washed into the Doe-Kag-Wats estuary at Indianola on the Kitsap Peninsula from as far south as the Tacoma Narrows. Read more about it in this Kitsap Sun article.

“The way the sound circulates, there’s a pretty good chance that if something falls into Puget Sound, it will end up here,” DNR restoration manager Chris Robertson said.

However, the estuary is located on a remote section of the Kitsap Peninsula, requiring the help of a helicopter to transport the creosote logs, bulkhead and assorted debris (like panels from a child’s playhouse) from beaches to a staging area in a field at Camp Indianola. Members of the VeteransCorps and Washington Conservation Corps helped load the debris on a line beneath the helicopter for transport. Other WCC crews cut up the logs for disposal.

The restoration project, a partnership with the Suquamish Tribe, is aimed at improving the estuary as habitat for salmon, herring and other animals that rely on the marsh.

“If we can remove the logs, we should be able to restore the marsh’s natural functions,” said Tom Ostrom, salmon recovery coordinator for the Suquamish Tribe.

The tribe and DNR removed nearly 300 tons of creosote-treated debris from Doe-Kag-Wats in 2011. Doe-Kag-Wats, which means “place of deer,” was also severely affected by an oil spill in 2003, when nearly 5,000 gallons of heavy bunker fuel spilled into Puget Sound.

DNR restoration crews prep logs for disposal. Photo: Joe Smillie, DNR.
DNR restoration crews prep logs for disposal. Photo: Joe Smillie, DNR.

Nearshore environments like Doe-Kag-Wats, which are the land between beach bluffs and deep water, are crucial for many species and vegetation. DNR has volumes of research on the complex ecosystem of nearshore environments.

DNR is steward of 2.6 million acres of state-owned aquatic lands—including the bedlands under Puget Sound and manages them as a public trust for the people of Washington State.

Through its Aquatic Restoration program, DNR is working to restore, enhance and protect healthy ecological conditions in freshwater, saltwater and estuarine aquatic systems throughout Washington.

If you know of a site with restoration potential, please contact us. DNR Aquatics has three districts across the state. Each has an Aquatics Restoration Manager designated to the Program who can assist you.

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