By Jim Trask
Happy New Year to all Northwest Divers! 2017 is fading in the rearview mirror and I want to reflect on what WSA accomplished last year. As most of you know we are now committed to creating nine new artificial reefs in our state as well as now working closely with the Department of Natural Resources in their creosote piling removal program and tire reef removal program. We have created from scratch a protocol for transferring sea life from the pilings and tires and giving them a new home near to their old homes. We have been successful with this effort and have shared our knowledge with the various government agencies and anyone else who finds they have to deal with this kind of project.
WSA have become very involved with the Scuba & H2O Show this past year. We had our silent auction as usual and we also hosted the Treasure Hunt event for the first time. It was very successful even though it had only limited participation. We learned from it and will make this year’s even better. We also donated some used equipment to a Wounded Warrior Group from Idaho, Neptune Divers. They really appreciated it and we may look at doing more of that. This year WSA will host a Saturday Night Party and a local pub.
Our biggest ongoing project is creating a “real” dive site at Redondo. What I mean by this is that the state, county and city governments don’t recognize the dive sites in Washington in that there is no paper that says they are legal sites. Edmonds Underwater Park is owned by the City of Edmonds. It is legal unless the city decides to do something else with the site. I do believe that the city must keep this site a park by mandate of the previous landowner. Saltwater State Park is also a legal dive site in that it is owned by Washington State Parks. All others including Les Davis which is a City of Tacoma asset could be changed if the park is removed.
WSA wants to create a lease with DNR which will make all future dive sites a legal entity in the eyes of the state. That way if the city, county or state wants to do something with the site (like a water taxi) will have to give us a new location and compensation for it. We are currently working on that. Once in place for Redondo we will replicate it for all other artificial reef projects.
Staying on the Redondo project, WSA had three public forums on the project at the Marine Science and Technology Center (MaST) in November and December. There was a single meeting ahead of those with dive instructors, dive charter operators and Highline Community College personnel to lay out what we wanted to accomplish at the forums. These were highly successful meetings discussing what the divers wanted to see done at the site as well as help design the new reef and what needed to be removed from the site before the rocky reef was installed and what needed to come out at a later date, plus other new features. The addition of a Simon Morris sculpture was met with great interest. The sculpture, which is called “Hippocampus”, is half-horse and half-whale with a young mermaid holding on to its neck. This life size work of art is made of a special bronze and will be about 15 feet tall.
2018 will see more work done at Redondo and possibly two other sites in Puget Sound. Stay tuned at www.wascuba.org.