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Enjoying & Protecting the Sea

Story and Photography by Molly Bogeberg, Marc Hershman Marine Policy Fellow

Much of our time as a marine team is spent traveling the coast to meet stakeholders in their communities. Right now, we are working with local shellfish growers, fishermen and citizens who care about their coast in Pacific and Grays Harbor Counties. We are finding that their goals for the coast are not so different than our own; to promote the protection of marine habitats, species, and resources.

We are assisting Pacific County and Grays Harbor to become the first counties in Washington to establish environmental designations in the marine waters to ensure no net loss of their ecological functions through the Shoreline Master Program (SMP). Updates to local SMPs allow counties to create policies and regulations within their shoreline jurisdiction. These two counties are highly dependent on healthy marine ecosystems and we are working together to make sure that these systems remain intact for the generations to come

In between meetings on the coast, Kara Cardinal (our Marine Projects Manager) and I, take some time to explore. On our last trip, we woke up early to catch a low tide at Bottle Beach State Park in Grays Harbor. On the beach we found clam shells and a field of the invasive dwarf eelgrass, Zostera japonica. Dwarf eelgrass likely has negative effects on shellfish growing areas and mudflats and is one invasive species that will be addressed in the SMP update. We had just enough time to enjoy the beach before it started to pour.

On our run back to the car we got sopping wet and had to go to our next meeting a little soggy- but it was worth it!