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View from Stratford Farm looking over the recently approved geoduck operation on Case Inlet. Photo courtesy: Erin Ewald, Taylor Shellfish environmental compliance officer

On Nov. 14, the Pierce County hearing examiner approved a permit for a geoduck farm to be operated by Taylor Shellfish Co. on the west side of the Key Peninsula between Dutcher Cove and Vaughn Bay.

The farm, just over 4 acres, is comprised of three private and separately owned tideland parcels that will abut an existing 3-acre farm.

The Key Peninsula Advisory Committee (KPAC) reviewed the initial proposal in May 2016. The advisory vote was 4-3 opposed. Two KPAC members voted against because they felt a county environmental review of the project was necessary for KPAC members to make an informed decision. Another member voted no because of concerns about how the county regulates the industry, rather than any issues with the application.

In May 2017, the county completed its environmental review and issued a Determination of Nonsignificance, meaning the farm would not create any probable significant adverse environmental impacts.

Planting should begin this spring, according to Diane Cooper, regulatory director at Taylor.

A second permit application filed by Taylor to establish a geoduck farm in Burley Lagoon is significantly larger and in a location very different from other area farms (“Large-Scale Geoduck Farm Possible in Burley Lagoon,” KP News, December 2016). An environmental impact statement (EIS) will be required and Cooper said Taylor expects a draft in early 2018. It will be available to the public for additional comment and, once a final EIS is written, will be presented at public hearings and to KPAC, which will make its recommendation on the proposal to the Pierce County Department of Planning and Land Services (PALS).

A final EIS, along with the PALS recommendation, will then be presented to the Pierce County hearing examiner, whose decision will be forwarded to the Washington State Department of Ecology for review.

Ty Booth, senior planner for PALS, said there are no other geoduck farm permits pending at this time.

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