‘Shellebration’ honors one year of open shellfish harvesting

H Street Plaza was filled with people attending the ‘Shellebration’ on December 15 to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Washington State Department of Health lifting of recreational and commercial shellfish harvesting restrictions on 810 acres of Drayton Harbor.

During the event, Drayton Harbor Oyster Company served up bowls of chowder and oysters and representatives from the Whatcom County Public Works Department honored volunteers.

Since 1995, state and county agencies, nonprofit organizations and volunteers have worked to reduce high levels of fecal coliform in Drayton Harbor. Volunteers and several local groups have helped.

“The community has stepped up to maintain the low pollution levels after last year’s lift on restrictions,” said Whatcom County water quality planner Kate Kimber in a statement earlier this month. “Fecal coliform pollution is a community issue with solutions that we know work. There is no one quick fix. Think of it like a jigsaw puzzle. The solution of clean water requires lots of small pieces [and] the community actions fitting together to complete the puzzle.”

These volunteers were awarded Drayton Harbor Watershed Steward Awards  for their work:

Tania Corliss: Since June 2015, Corliss has helped Whatcom County Public Works collect water samples from Drayton Harbor for monitoring purposes.

George Kaas: Kaas is a member of the Drayton Harbor Shellfish Protection District Advisory Committee, which is responsible for advising the county on matters related to Drayton Harbor’s watershed. A teacher at the Blaine school district, Kaas has also taught his students about the local ecosystem and how to improve water quality.

Don Hrutfiord: Along with his wife Mary and son Chris, Don runs a cattle farm close to Drayton Harbor, south of Blaine. To protect water quality, the Hrutfiords worked with the Whatcom Conservation District to properly manage waste on their pasture by installing gutters on their barn and building fencing to establish a buffer between an on-site stream that runs directly into the harbor.

Steve Seymour: Owner of Drayton Harbor Oyster Company, Seymour is a member of the Drayton Harbor Shellfish Protection District Advisory Committee. He’s also provided free refreshments for the Shellebration for the past two years.

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