EVERETT – Five years later, Northwest waterways are on the mend.
Tons of net, rope and other fishing gear have been pulled from Puget Sound, thousands of oysters have been brought back to miles of shoreline, and dozens of beaches have been cleaned.
Driven by volunteers in Snohomish County and six other seaside counties, the Northwest Straits Marine Conservation Initiative is working, its supporters declared Saturday.
But there’s still a great deal of work to be done, including renewing the legislation that authorized the formation of the regional marine beach and waterways restoration group five years ago.
“It’s always a challenge to get anything through Congress,” said U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who attended the group’s annual conference at the Everett Events Center over the weekend.
Murray, who wrote the legislation that created the straits initiative, said she is optimistic the legislation will be renewed in 2005.
“I’m here to say thank you and congratulations,” Murray told more than 100 people at the conference. “Congress said we’ll give you five years. Show us what you can do. You knocked our socks off.”
So far, Congress has used the straits initiative to funnel more than $4 million to restoration projects in the Puget Sound area.
In Snohomish County, that includes money for a successful bid to revamp Kayak Point near the Tulalip Reservation, said Tom Cowan, director of the Northwest Straits Initiative.
A committee of local residents has also done work to help Dungeness crab numbers bounce back in waters off of county beaches, and has taught school-age children about the Sound’s waterways at a number of schools.
Cowan said federal dollars have been key, but added that private donations, both from citizens and businesses, have propelled the organization’s successes.
Reporter Lukas Velush: 425-339-3449 or email@example.com.