MAURY ISLAND, Wash. -- Sand and gravel mining started on Maury Island in the 1890s and ended in 2009 when a judge threw out permits obtained by a company preparing to expand it.
Now a 7,000-acre waterfront slope belongs to the public and work has begun to restore it.
Using $2.2 million dollars from a state jobs fund, dozens of workers are cutting and pulling invasive plants from the hillside and removing creosote soaked logs and other threats from the site's full mile of Puget Sound beach.
The Department of Natural Resources, King County and the Washington Conservation Corps teamed up to tackle the difficult task of returning an old mine to its former self.
Workers are sifting through the same gravel that attracted the mining company to see if it is attracting important fish species. At low tide they shake through the gravel sand and silt in search for tiny fish eggs.
It's part of a big picture project to restore the site and get baseline information to see if, when and by how much the site recovers after the mining stopped.