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Friday, 31 March 2017 15:22

First ShellFest Celebration Coming to Penrose State Park

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Park Ranger Janet Shonk surveys the tidelands at Penrose State Park.||| Park Ranger Janet Shonk surveys the tidelands at Penrose State Park.||| Lisa Bryan, KP News|||

Park Ranger Janet Shonk hopes that many Key Peninsula residents will be drawn to Penrose Point State Park Sunday, April 30, to help celebrate ShellFest.

The event runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Shonk explained that other state parks have hosted ShellFest celebrations, but this is the first year for Penrose. The goal is “to promote stewardship through awareness of what is on our beaches,” Shonk said.

ShellFest is a public education component of Phase II of the statewide Washington Shellfish Initiative and WSI partners. WSI was established under Gov. Gregoire in 2011 to invest state and federal funding into addressing environmental factors that stand in the way of shellfish aquaculture and restoration efforts, including pollution, agriculture impacts and climate change. The partners want to engage shoreline communities in protecting and enhancing unique shellfish resources that are at the heart of creating shellfish farming jobs and helping clean Washington’s waters.

A big feature of the day will be low-tide beach walks guided by local experts. Several groups are planning hands-on activities for children and there will be a touch tank for a hands-on experience.

Erin Ewald, the environmental compliance officer at Taylor Shellfish Farms, said that Taylor is pleased to be one of the partners making ShellFest possible and it will be providing lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. “We will have shellfish to taste and a display of products produced here locally in the nutrient-rich waters of Puget Sound,” she said. “Lunch is free; however, a suggested donation of $7 per person or $20 per family will benefit our state parks.”

Entertainment will be provided by the 133rd Army National Guard Band and by a local favorite, The Blue Grass Minstrels.

Participating WSI partners will have educational booths and displays that focus on restoration and protection of shellfish beds in Puget Sound. Participating agencies and organizations include the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, Washington State Parks and Recreation, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Department of Ecology BEACH Program, both state and local departments of health, the Washington State Parks Boating Safety Program, the Washington Conservation Corps, the Key Peninsula-Gig Harbor Watershed Council, the Pierce County Conservation District and Washington CoastSavers. Industry participants will include Pierce County Shellfish Partners and the Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association.

ShellFest is free, but vehicles will need a day permit upon arrival, or visitors may choose to support their state parks by purchasing an annual Discover Pass that is good for vehicle parking at any Washington state park for a year (www.discoverpass.wa.gov).

Want to go? ShellFest is at Penrose Point State Park Sunday, April 30, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event is free but parking costs $10 without a Discover Pass.

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