Year of Award


Document Type

Professional Paper

Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Environmental Science and Natural Resource Journalism

Department or School/College

School of Journalism

Committee Chair

Keith Graham

Commitee Members

Peggy Kuhr, Bill Borrie


oyster, starfish, sea star, lighthouse, Washington, restoration


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Journalism Studies


We have a penchant for assigning value to our resources. In many cases this value makes the recovery of degraded and damaged resources justifiable. But when this value cannot be quantified, when our resources have emotional rather than economic value, the story changes. “Nostalgic Restoration: Recovering Washington’s Coastal Resources” focuses on two editorial pieces and one short film of coastal resource recovery, solely for the relationship between people and resources.

Washington’s only native oyster, the Olympia oyster (ostrea lurida), once covered more than 20,000 acres across the Puget Sound. Due to pollution and overharvesting, only 5% of the historic bed remains. A new method of dispersing nonnative oyster shell to promote growth of the Olympia oyster is being used throughout Washington. Teams are pushing to restore 100 acres of Olympia oysters by 2020. Those involved generally don’t wish to farm Olympia oysters, but act from a sense of state pride.

The state is also experiencing a loss in sea star numbers. Sea star wasting disease began turning West Coast starfish into disfigured piles of goo in 2013. Although the densovirus was already present in these waters, back-to-back warm water events exacerbated the virus; populations of starfish in the Pacific Northwest alone have dropped by 75 percent.

Further down the Washington coast, North Head Lighthouse’s beacon glints on the southernmost corner of the state. In 2012, the state began a $4 million investment to restore the historical authenticity of the lighthouse. The funds came from a Capital Budget that hasn’t favored projects of this scale and cost in the past. Lighthouses are landmarks of a bygone era. Some are preserved; others crumble. North Head is also Cape Disappointment State Park’s premiere tourist attraction, drawing close to a million visitors a year.

These coastal resources are just three of many that Washingtonians cherish. My Master’s portfolio and reporting therein seeks to communicate the complexity of human relationships with coastal resources. Within each story, the restoration process, marine ecology, and budgetary information are distilled. What remains are provoking connections that will hopefully resonate with coastal and landlocked populations alike.



© Copyright 2018 Carly Vester