Now that the land is protected, we are determining how to reclaim the mine and restore the shoreline. Consultants and scientists are on the ground helping us figure out the best ways to restore the damaged areas in ways that will reconnect the upland and nearshore habitats. Currently, a Western Washington University geophysics class is using ground penetrating radar equipment to help us discover where the natural shoreline lies and how much shoreline armor we will need to remove to uncover it.
We are learning where we can allow access and where to restrict it in an effort to ensure safety, while protecting species and habitat from human disturbances. Geological engineers are studying the stability of the mine benches to help us figure out places that can be made safe for a future trail. Public access is a ways off, but over 290 people have witnessed this remarkable land firsthand during our guided tours. We constantly hear “incredible”, “this is a big deal”, “beautiful”, “I had no idea”, and “thank you” from tour participants.
Over 80 volunteers have put in almost 600 hours clearing out years of debris on Abner Point, loading skiffs and rowboats, filling dumpsters, and pulling invasive weeds. This summer Washington Conservation Corps crews helped with invasive weed control and deconstructed a derelict storage building on Abner Point, where every scrap of debris was moved by rowboat to the main quarry area.
We are honoring the history of this land by learning much about the people and events of the past. Tales of smuggling Japanese men to work in a fish fertilizer plant, a house that washed up on the shores of Abner Point, a honeymoon vacation, summers spent fishing and crabbing, the significance of this land to people over the years, and a birthday celebration that helped save this place are some of the stories that we have collected. These stories are honored in short videos available here.
We have accomplished a lot but there is still much to do as we focus on the vision of making sure the Aiston Preserve’s natural habitats are restored and protected, while allowing for education, scientific research and future low-impact recreation.
Words cannot express how proud I am to know Peggy and Homer's legacy is in such good hands!"
—Chuck Foster, Homer and Peggy Aiston's great-nephew
This article is part of the Heritage Letter, Fall 2016. Get the full letter here.