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Port Gamble S'Klallam developing cleanup, redevelopment plan for Point Julia

The Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe is cleaning up Point Julia, an ancestral site. From top photo, Josh Wisniewski and Sherrie Ducan take soil samples to test for pollutants. Port Gamble S
The Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe is cleaning up Point Julia, an ancestral site. From top photo, Josh Wisniewski and Sherrie Ducan take soil samples to test for pollutants. Port Gamble S'Klallam wants to build a new boat launch, new picnic shelters and educational kiosks explaining the history of the area.
— image credit: Tiffany Royal / Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission

The Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe is cleaning up Point Julia, an ancestral site. While homes no longer occupy the point, it’s still used for ceremonies and for launching fishing boats. However, it looks much different than it did 100 years ago.

Derelict boats and trailer sit near the wetlands. A rusting barge with peeling paint is perched on the beach near a creek that flows into the bay. Chemicals may have leached from the old mill site across the bay and infiltrated the water and sediment. Fishing and shellfishing have been shut down in parts of the bay because of pollutants.

“The tribe wants to make Point Julia a safer place for the community while supporting a clean and healthy environment,” Tribal Response Program Manager Jessica Coyle told the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission News.

Using Environmental Protection Agency Brownsfield Grants, Port Gamble S’Klallam is assessing Point Julia in two phases. The first phase is a visual investigation of the land and possible causes of contamination. It includes a historical assessment, such as hiring an archeologist and interviewing elders to learn about previous land use.

The second phase, a chemical investigation, includes testing for pollutants. A report will be available in March from the 100 soil samples that were taken from the point in January. The tribe expects to find metals, dioxides, fuel and byproducts from wood burning and the mill site. From there, the tribe will put together a cleanup and redevelopment plan for the community.

“I’m pretty sure we’ll find contaminants around the pier – you can just see the creosote dripping from the old dock,” Coyle said. “And we know there is work that needs to be done. The tribal community wants to build a new boat launch, new picnic shelters and educational kiosks explaining the history of the area — respecting it the way it should be.”

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