Column: Nisqually Tribe's $2M gamble for shellfish farm pays off

"When the Nisqually Indian Tribe purchased a Henderson Inlet commercial shellfish farm from Puget Sound pioneer oysterman Jerry Yamashita early in 2010, the tribe gambled that water-quality problems plaguing the South Sound inlet could be reversed.

The $2 million gamble appears to be paying off.

The 122 acres of tidelands has had two water-quality upgrades from the state Department of Health in the past two years, expanding the tribe’s ability to put its only commercial shellfish-growing ground to work.

At the time the tribe agreed to buy the farm in 2009 – the deal closed in March 2010 – some 50 acres of the farm were off-limits to harvesting shellfish because of fecal coliform levels in the water. An additional 72 acres faced closures whenever it rained one inch in 24 hours.

Flash forward to the summer of 2012 and only 5 acres are labeled prohibited. Forty-four other acres face the rainfall restrictions, but the majority of tidelands – 72 acres – is fully approved."

Get the Story:
John Dodge: Tribe bet that water issues could be fixed; it paid off (The Olympian 7/15)

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