Q13 FOX –
Three ducks glide across the surface of the waterway that meanders across the tide flats. The tide is out and some of the exposed muddy ground is only partly covered with some young vegetation.
“This site is a key piece of a salmon’s life cycle,” says Jenn Stebbings.
She’s a biologist with the Port of Tacoma and was part of the restoration project near Commencement Bay. It was a tall order, turning a former gravel mine and inert landfill into critical salmon habitat. The Port of Tacoma and the Puyallup Tribe teamed up to make it happen.
The 30 acres might not look like much, but this area off Hylebos Creek is a vast improvement to the earlier gravel mine and toxic landfill. This is where juvenile salmon learn to breathe salt water.
“As the tide comes in,” says Stebbings, “it has the opportunity to fill these channels and circle around and fill the area and circles back out.”
About 265,000 tons of old landfill had to be removed from the site. That’s the amount of material that would be enough to make the Space Needle and it’s giant cement foundation — 45 times over. The meandering waterways here had to be carved into the former toxic landscape too.