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  • Writer's pictureGriffey for State House

Oakland Bay Restoration Groundbreaking

For over a decade, Mason County officials, community members, and leaders of the Squaxin Tribe have worked with 35th District lawmakers to secure funding for the West Oakland Bay Restoration and Conservation project.

Last Friday (Sept. 15), Sen. Drew MacEwen, R-Shelton, Rep. Dan Griffey, R-Allyn, and Rep. Travis Couture, R-Allyn, joined those longtime partners for a groundbreaking celebration. The 35th District lawmakers this year secured the final $5.3 million needed for the project in the 2023-2025 capital budget as part of the state Recreation and Conservation office's Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration grant program. The project will help restore the estuary's natural habitat and significantly boost recovery efforts for coho, Chinook and chum salmon.

“Over the past 150 to 200 years, we have had to sit on the sidelines and watch the degradation of our environment, watch our salmon slowly go extinct,” said Squaxin Tribe Chair Kris Peters. “But the time is now for us to turn it back the other way. There is no reason we can't have progress, grow our economy in a good way, have a thriving community with businesses and still protect our environment. This is a great example from our little community about how we can all work together to do the right thing for everyone.”

“We know we can accomplish great things for the 35th District and for Mason County when we work together as a team in Olympia and here in the community,” said Sen. Drew MacEwen. “This is a great example of those partnerships and their benefits for all. I am incredibly proud of what we accomplished together.”

Rep. Dan Griffey agreed. “If we build a culture of collaboration, we can have nice things. If we build those relationships and commit to coming together in a civil manner – even when we might disagree – there is nothing we can't accomplish,” Griffey said. “This final piece is going to further solidify the salmon recovery we are already seeing after completion of other phases of this project and complete $35 million worth of investment in salmon recovery from Olympia to Mason County.”

Griffey and MacEwen credited Couture for securing the final funding as a member of the House Capital Budget Committee. The efforts of the 35th District lawmakers helped ensure all requests for the Puget Sound Acquisition and Recovery were funded this year.

“I am grateful to have had the opportunity to fight for this funding during my first year in office and help score this victory for our partners, our community, and our children and their children,” Couture said. “This will enhance Mason County's leadership on carbon reduction, spur development of aquaculture, create an estimated 80 to 100 jobs, and inspire future generations to continue our work for salmon recovery.”

The Shelton-Mason County Chamber of Commerce expressed appreciation for the 35th district lawmakers' commitment to the project. “This groundbreaking ceremony is more than just the physical start of a project; it symbolizes the strength of our community bonds, the resilience of our partnerships, and the unwavering commitment of all those who believe in our shared potential,” said Chamber President Deidre Peterson. “We are grateful to our legislators for securing the resources necessary to support this project, building on decades of progress and millions of dollars already invested in restoration work. This project enhances Oakland Bay as both an environmental asset and an economic driver in our community.”


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