To better understand the industry on the Key Peninsula, Pierce County hit the road Friday for three-and-a-half-hour tour.
County Council member Derek Young joined a tour that was put on by the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department and included the Shellfish Partners and the Pierce Conservation District.
The tour went to Minterbrook Oyster Farm, Rocky Bay Equine and the Purdy sandspit.
The tour began at Minterbrook, owned by the Kingman family. Kelly Kingman took the tour group through the property, showing the way the oysters are grown. Kingman showed the oyster larvae under a microscope, chronicling the journey from speck to shuck.
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The fresh water of Minter Bay makes for a sweeter oyster, Kingman said. In turn, that means a sweeter price. Oysters are shipped both locally and internationally to Hong Kong, China and elsewhere. It’s in the best interest of Minterbrook Oyster to be committed to water quality.
“It’s a very unique bay,” Kingman said.
At Rocky Bay Equine, the focus was on ecological farming practices. Rocky Bay Equine is a destination for veterinary care, reproductive services, foaling and training.
Sophia Gidlund led the Rocky Bay portion of the tour. Gidlund is the watershed program manager for the Key Peninsula, Gig Harbor and Islands area in the Pierce Conservation District.
Highlights of the tour included the unique paddocks placed in the stalls to prevent muddy build-up and the manure piles, which were stored safely and available as fertilizer for the public. The farm serves as an example of an organization that works to prevents dangerous runoff from entering Rocky Bay.
Water quality was a major topic of discussion. The tour concluded along the Purdy Spit beach and the group discussed the county’s efforts to combat myths about water pollution.
“It doesn’t take much,” Gidlund said. “It can be as little as a couple of dogs to create a problem.”
Young felt the tour was informative and would give him things to think about in his first year on the county council. Knowing the risks to water quality and the work being done of the Key Peninsula will inform his decision making, he said.