Funds aim to restore oysters

Project will bring material to tideflats

The Marine Resource Committees for Clallam and Jefferson counties will use federal funding to replenish strata in Sequim Bay and Discovery Bay to help rejuvenate Olympia oyster populations depleted by the “heat dome” in September 2022.

The shells will be placed on tidelands located at Jamestown S’Klallam Tribal Tidelands on about 2 acres of current restoration area and 1 acre of new restoration area to expand the Olympia oyster population in Sequim Bay.

“We figured this was a great project that we could get done in one year,” Clallam County Habitat Biologist Rebecca Mahan told Clallam County commissioners at their Jan. 9 work session. “So we are going to be bringing in some substrate to add to the Sequim Bay area in hopes that we get more improvement on the Olympia oysters. They did take a big hit during that heat dome.”

Clallam County will receive $96,650 in Congressionally directed spending, formerly called earmarks, through the Northwest Straits Commission via the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Jefferson County will receive $118,000 for its oyster restoration project that started in 2013 with one-half acre in Discovery Bay near a stable but small population of Olympia oysters and now consists of three parcels. Volunteers spread empty shells on a quarter acre of nearby tide flats in August 2014.

“Olympia oysters (Ostrea lurida) are ecosystem engineers, forming complex carpets of overlapping shell that provides hiding places and feeding opportunities for a diverse community of nearshore species,” according to the Jefferson County Marine Resource Committee website.

Larvae released from the nearby population settled on those shells in 2015 and 2016. Additional shells were added to the project site in 2016 to replace the shells that the currents and wave action had moved southward. Empty oyster shells were added to a new area nearby in 2019 and in ensuing years.

The Clallam County project will place 200 cubic yards of shells in locations known to be successful for recruitment or ideal habitat, according to a staff memo to county commissioners. The shell placement plan will be based upon six years of population assessments, a three-year recruitment study that illustrates spatially how Olympia oysters have recruited outside of the three existing restoration sites and local knowledge of the site.

The data will be used to determine where shells will be added outside the three current restoration sites. Empty shells will be transferred onto a landing craft and positioned at predetermined GPS locations. The shell bags will be placed at high tide so they can be accessed at low tide for spreading by hand. Then the area will be monitored to see if the project works.

Mahan said any oyster shells can be used, but these will be Olympia oyster shells harvested from along Hood Canal and trucked to the areas to be shoveled into the water.

Mahan said baby oysters need some place to adhere in order to grow, and oyster shells are the best substrate.

“And Sequim Bay, as we know, has seen lots of human-led changes over the centuries,” Mahan said. “And so, it’s just kind of bringing back that substrate that was there.

“And then trying to figure out, “Where do these guys want to settle? We have a couple new spots,” she said.

Clallam County Commissioner Mark Ozias said: “This sounds like an interesting project and one that, later on in the year when we have our annual (Marine Resources Committee) update, I’m looking forward to hearing a little bit more about it.”

“It sounds like a fun research project to do afterwards,” Clallam County Commissioner Mike French said.

“It will be great to look at the recruitment over time and see if it actually works,” Mahan said.

The Olympia oyster is the only native oyster from British Columbia to Baja California. Due to habitat loss and overharvesting, their populations are a fraction of what they once were prior to the arrival of settlers in the mid-1800s.


Reporter Brian Gawley can be reached at

More in News

Air Force to clean up station

EPA plans to oversee Neah Bay operation

Appraisal for Short’s Farm less than port expected

Port of PT considering purchase to support local agriculture growth

Artwork by Sixkiller, contemporary Cherokee artist, is on display in House of Learning, Peninsula College Longhouse now through March.
Cherokee artist to speak on Grandma Spider

Contemporary Cherokee artist Karen Sixkiller will speak on “Rediscovering… Continue reading

Jefferson PUD plans to standardize broadband fees

Some internet providers in Jefferson County may see their… Continue reading

Port Angeles Community Award recipients gather after Saturday night’s fifth annual awards gala, including, from left, Joe DeScala, representing 4PA, organization of the year; Dr. Gerald Stephanz, citizen of the year; Tommy Harris, young leader of the year; Natalie Snow, Katelyn Sheldon and Andrea Dean, representing Welly’s Real Fruit Ice Cream, emerging business of the year; and Hayley Sharpe, owner of MOSS, business of the year. Not present was John Gallagher, educator of the year. The awards are produced by the Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by Sound Publishing. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Community awards distributed at chamber gala

Six categories featured as event returns in person

One hurt in wreck at 104-Shine intersection

A Poulsbo woman was treated and discharged from Harborview Medical… Continue reading

Brock Tejeda, a high school senior, fits together his carefully crafted pieces of wood to make a step stool just like the larger finished sample on the left. Port Angeles High School hosted a Skills USA Olympic Regional contest in the woodshop at the school on Saturday. The contest involved students making in eight hours from precise directions a small step stool using their skills and the shop’s many tools and machines. Joe Shideler is the woodshop teacher, but retired woodshop teacher Tim Branham was the enabler who brought the contest back to the school after a four-year COVID absence. There were five high school contestants including one girl. Skills USA sponsors over 50 skills across the country. PAHS participated in the carpentry and precision machinery areas. (Dave Logan/for Peninsula Daily News)
Skills contest

Brock Tejeda, a high school senior, fits together his carefully crafted pieces… Continue reading

Matthew Nash/Olympic Peninsula News Group
About 100 people gathered in support of Sequim School District's proposed CTE building at Sequim City Council's last meeting. More than 20 people spoke in favor of the project in a public hearing.
Sequim council approves $250K for CTE facility

City’s contribution part of effort to raise $1 million

Monroe Athletic Field
Bidding opens for Monroe Athletic Field

Slated for completion this fall

Most Read