OLYMPIA – A potential trespass by Taylor Shellfish in North Bay near Allyn has prompted an inventory of state-owned tidelands by the state Department of Natural Resources.
It’s possible that the Mason County-based company is growing shellfish on approximately two acres of state property at the end of Case Inlet, said DNR spokesman Aaron Toso.
State Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark said the incident, the second involving Taylor Shellfish in the past year, prompted him to order a complete inventory of state-owned tidelands, which total about 68,100 acres, starting in Puget Sound.
“These are lands owned by the public, and we need to make sure their resources are not being taken advantage of or harmed,” Goldmark said. “If someone wants to do business on public land, the proposed use should be evaluated and, if appropriate, authorized – and the public should be compensated.”
Historically, boundaries between private and state tidelands have been hard to verify, noted Taylor Shellfish President Bill Taylor.
The potential trespass was identified about two weeks ago by Taylor Shellfish and DNR staff following a complaint from an upland property owner, Toso said.
Taylor Shellfish has agreed to pay for a survey to determine the actual boundaries of the area in question.
“Modern GIS (geographical information system) mapping tools have made this easier, and in cooperation with DNR we’re using them to identify other tidelands areas we farm which may need survey verification,” Taylor said.
DNR will compare its own GIS information with that compiled by shellfish companies and state and federal agencies to identify areas in Puget Sound where trespasses are most likely.
DNR will then conduct on-the-ground inspection, taking advantage of the extra low tides and long daylight hours of summer. The agency hopes to complete the inventory this summer, Toso said.
In May, Taylor Shellfish and DNR settled a hotly contested tidelands dispute in which both parties claimed ownership of some 20 acres in Gallagher Cove in Totten Inlet. In the end, DNR retained title to the tidelands, and the Mason County shellfish company agreed to remove within six months all the oysters it had planted there and all the geoducks within five years.
In addition, Taylor Shellfish will pay $1.5 million to DNR and drop a $4.5 million claim for damages and lawsuit seeking ownership of the tidelands.
John Dodge: 360-754-5444