The critters that live in the aquatic lands off the shore of Maury Island are getting an extreme home makeover.
DNR is partnering with King County Parks to remove a long-forgotten pier and its associated structures from Maury Island. Funded by DNR’s creosote removal funds, the project will remove some 150 derelict creosote-treated pilings and 2,000 square feet of overwater structures.
Removal of the pier and its associated structures will be an important contribution to the state’s commitment to restore the health of Puget Sound. This project will improve vital shoreline habitat in King County’s 275-acre natural area, home to Madrone forests and habitat that supports endangered species, such as Chinook salmon, orca and bull trout.
Creosote has been used for more than a century to preserve wood for telephone poles, railroad ties, piers and docks, among other applications. Creosote-treated wood piles break up as they age and eventually end up on Puget Sound beaches, where they leach chemicals into marine waters and near-shore habitat.
A Little Help from our Friends
But before we bring in the cranes and divers needed to take out these derelict pilings and improve habitat, we often partner with great organizations like the Washington Scuba Alliance.
Last week, in advance of the Maury Island cleanup, dozens of scuba divers from the Alliance went out to the base of the piers armed with butter knives and plastic paint scrapers to remove hundreds of seastars, anemones and snails from the pilings. The divers transferred the critters to new homes nearby on undersea wrecked barges and boulder fields so they would be out of way of our workers.
We’ve worked with Puget Sound-area aquariums and zoos in the past to do similar work – getting these marine critters safely out of the way so we can make their homes a little cleaner in the future.
Cleaning up a Toxic Legacy
Since 2007, DNR has worked with local and government partners to remove more than 13,000 creosote pilings, part of the larger effort to clean up toxic contamination under the Puget Sound Action Agenda.
DNR is at the forefront of efforts to rid Washington’s waters of derelict, creosote-treated structures. Ridding our iconic bodies of water of these neglected pilings and piers removes a toxic legacy that introduces chemical compounds into habitat vital for our iconic aquatic species.
A Special and Important Place
The site’s nearly one mile of shoreline is the longest undeveloped stretch of Puget Sound shoreline in King County. Along with the nearby 320-acre Maury Island Marine Park, this is the largest publicly-owned protected marine shoreline in all of Puget Sound.
The area also lies within DNR’s 5,350-acre Maury Island Aquatic Reserve, one of just 18 distinct Pacific herring spawning areas in Puget Sound. Herring eggs exposed to creosote have a high mortality rate. Herring are an important part of the diets of a number of species, including salmon, and migrating shorebirds.