Life in Bay Center on Willapa Bay

Living in a maritime fishing village in Southwest Washington state on Willapa Bay

Archive for the ‘Pacific ocean’ Category

Lewis and Clark National Heritage Area moves forward…what about Chinook Tribe recognition?

Posted by pallix on April 11, 2009

It’s been on my radar to keep an eye out for the progress being made to have this region declared a National Heritage Area.  My interest is more along the lines of what seems a corresponding and relevant action to recognize the Chinook Tribe as a declared Tribe.  To my way of thinking, the naming of  Lewis and Clark National Heritage area,  requires a recognition of the Chinook people as a federally recognized tribe. 

 

Without the friendship and aid of the Chinook people, Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery expedition may well have not survived once they arrived in this area – the mouth of Columbia River where it flows into the Pacific Ocean.  Legislation has been introduced to give recognition to the Chinook Tribe.  That legislation has not moved along; while simultaneously legislation to declared this area a Lewis and Clark National Heritage area seems to be moving along.  To my way of thinking, these are hand in glove actions, complementing each other, and it seems to me it would be hypocritical to have one without the other.

Link to article at Daily Astorian;   excerpt

Having just returned from a trip overseas, David Szymanski, superintendent at Lewis and Clark National Historical Park, is canvassing the North Coast to update communities on the proposed National Heritage Area.

He presented to the Clatsop County Board of Commissioners an update on the proposed Columbia Pacific National Heritage Area Wednesday in the Judge Guy Boyington Building. Heritage areas define a region where communities can use federal funds to benefit local economies.

"This project will not go forward until we’ve heard from local governments and the public," Szymanski said.

The Columbia Pacific heritage area would incorporate portions of Clatsop County and Pacific and Wahkiakum counties in Washington.

"People are probably surprised to learn that the National Park Service often has skepticism about National Heritage Areas," Szymanski said. "Some have not been well thought out."

Szymanski said the most important requirement for a heritage area is finding the right coordinating entity. A lot of heritage areas focus on tourism, rather than broader economic development.

ShoreBank Enterprise Cascadia was recently selected for the coordinating entity for this heritage area, in large part because the nonprofit organization focuses on investment and capital building.

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Posted in 19th Legislative District, 3rd Congressional District, Chinook Nation, Lewis and Clark National Heritage, Native Americans, Neighboring communities, neighbors, Pacific County, Pacific ocean, recreation, U.S. Representative Brian Baird, wetlands, willapa, willapa bay, Willapa National Wildlife Refuge | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Congressman Brian Baird Town Hall Meeting, South Bend, WA, July 1, 2008

Posted by pallix on July 3, 2008

On Monday, June 30, I received an email from Congressman Baird’s office advising he was holding a Town Hall meeting in South Bend, on July 1 (the next day).  He holds Town Hall meetings annually in towns and cities across his district. I wanted to attend, for a couple of reasons. 

Some background:  Last summer, Congressman Brian Baird held a Town Hall Meeting in Raymond, and this was at the time that Congressman Brian Baird who had voted against the invasion into Iraq, decided that he wanted to come out approving President Bush’s ‘Surge’ of U.S. troops in Iraq.  Congressman Baird had made a trip to Iraq last year, to assess the situation of war in Iraq and had conversation with General Petreaus, coming home to believe in the value of proceeding with a Surge in U.S. troops deployed to Iraq.  The deaths of U.S. troops was at an increasing frequency, and violence was rampant in Iraq, IED’s and suicide bombings – killing civilians, Iraqi police and soldiers, and U.S. troops.   Last year, Congressman Baird made national news in his support for President Bush’s call for a ‘Surge’ (of troops) in Iraq. 

My husband and I, being a military family with 2 returning Iraq veterans (both from Washington state),  attended that Town Hall meeting in Raymond, WA last summer primarily to challenge the Congressman on his support of the ‘Surge’ and it was a contentious exchange with the Congressman.  Please refer to the article ‘Baird faces his constituents in Raymond’ in Daily World last September.   

The article features photo of my husband, Arthur Ruger, and the pointed question he put to  Congressman Baird man to man -“was the war worth our son’s blood.”, to which the Congressman responded yes, he believed it was.  That was a slap in the face to us, as we do not believe, have never believed this war was worth any son or daughter’s blood.  It was important to me then, last night, a year later at the Town Hall Meeting in South Bend, for me to connect to the Congressman based on our exchange from last year.  That same year, in December 2007 our son-in-law deployed to Iraq in his second 15 month stop-loss, extended deployment, where he is now.

I wanted very much to attend Congressman Baird’s Town Hall meeting last night, even though I seem to have run out of things to say about the wrongness of the Iraq war. We attended, and after Congressman Baird gave his presentations, he opened it to audience questions. I listened through all of the questions, intending to ask my two questions at the end of the proceedings.

Issues discussed during course of the meeting:

Gas Prices; Astonishingly – well to us anyway – when the question of gas prices came up, as we knew it would, and someone asked about off shore oil drilling and leased land not being used for oil drilling, Brian Baird started to discuss it and then asked the audience for a show of hands as to who was in favor of off-shore oil drilling. And almost all the hands went up. Then Brian Baird asked who was not in favor, with my husband, mine and probably 3-4 other hands going up.

I was stunned. And in somewhat confused language pointed out peak oil and global warming and then gave up, saying never mind. I could not believe what I had just witnesssed. An expectation that enough information is out there now about the growing oil crisis, that I had thought more would be appreciative of our need to change our lifestyle to become less oil dependent and the urgency in finding alternative energy lifestyles.

Acidic Ocean; Congressman Baird acknowledged Al Gore’s documentary ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, and then explained to the audience about acidic ocean, disappearing coral reefs, and how as a coastal community we should be concerned about our oceans. Then he answered other questions, and while I was listening attentively, I had already recognized that once again, our views on oil dependency (my husband and mine) were indeed the minority opinions amongst the community we live in. We’ve encountered this before along the course of our speaking out against the Iraq war as military family with loved ones deployed in Iraq.

Funding Iraq War vs Domestic Needs; Later when a young reporter from the Aberdeen Daily World newspaper tossed out a comment about trading off the $$ being spent in Iraq against using for homeland needs, Congressman Baird explained that we were not using current funds, rather creating a deficit that would be paid in our children and grandchildren’s time. As Congressman Baird explained it that were we to withdraw the troops now (which he then went on to explain was a time consuming process and needed to be done responsibly so as not to leave troops exposed and at-risk), there would still be no funds available to be used for domestic concerns. Rather that it would reduce somewhat the future deficit which would be paid for by our children and grandchildren.

Copper Roof Replacement at Pacific County Courthouse; would cost considerably more than was originally estimated with rising costs of copper.  Inquiry if the Congressman could get the county some $$ help to replace the copper roof.  It being a historic building, must comply with regulations pertinent to historic buildings.  (Read more about it at this Daily World article, ‘Costs of New Roof Skyrockets’)
The discussions flowed covering various issues:
Historic Post Office in Raymond lacking accessibility for disabled; seems because the Raymond Post Office is considered a historic building, and it lacks accessibility for disabled, changes cannot be made to the building to be more facilitative without regard to the regulations governing historic buildings.  At this time, disabled citizens (wheelchair bound, or unable to manage the stairs) are unable to make access to the Post Office.   (Read more about this at Daily World article, ‘Baird Hears of Acces Woes’)

Illegal Immigration:  Someone asked the Congressman about illegal immigrants, and he responded by breaking it out into three categories;  a) illegal immigrants who are hardened criminals should be sent back to countries of origins, but how to do that – ask the country ‘hey will you take back so and so who is a hardened criminal?’;  b) illegal immigrants who are hired by employers knowingly as illegal and paid under the table should not be permitted to remain; and c) illegal immigrants who are hired by employers who have verified social security number and background and taxes are being paid out of wages – those illegal immigrants have likely been here number of years, working all of those years and some provision should be provided that permits them to remain on worker permit.  Congressman cited responsive employers like Coast Seafood who work to comply with current laws and have large number of immigrants employed.

Columbia-Pacific National Heritage Area Study:  Included was a concern expressed by owner of Rose Ranch regarding our area (Willapa region) becoming a National Heritage region. She identified probably 10 coalitions that have concerns should we become designated a National Heritage site. I have tried to blog some about this at Washblog, but am too underinformed to articulate the concerns well.
As the meeting wrapped up, I was at last able to ask my two questions;

1) Senator Cantwell obtaining $2 million towards Doppler Radar for SW Washington due to the December 07 storm (read more here) , and what was his position on that? He said fully in support. Then I pointed out that while the $2 million was great it was going to take a lot more $$ to build the Doppler, and where would that money come from, would he work towards that end. He said something about $2 million being a big drop, and likely the rest of the money might have to come from the State.

2) Last year, in your Town Hall, we talked with you about our son in Iraq because you had just gone national in your approval of the Surge, and I guess I wanted to have you inquire how he is doing. Before I could finish the sentence though, it seemed that Congressman Baird did remember and did ask how our son was doing. Which left me with a weak follow up, that really that was all I wanted was for him to inquire after our son’s well being. Then the Congressman went on to explain why he took the position that he did last year on the Surge and how it seemed to be working, violence was down. I actually did find myself saying that conditions did seem to be more favorable to our son’s (actually it is son-in-law) deployment this time, or at least I’m relieved that if he has to be there, it isn’t the year before, and that I hope he gets through this deployment and safely home.

After the meeting concluded, Congressman Baird, did come over to where I was sitting, and had some private words with me. He wanted me to know that he cares, that what I was doing as a mother was natural and he was glad that I was doing what I was doing; that what my son was doing was patriotic and what I was doing was patriotic; that when he is in DC the  groups that hold vigils in DC showing the 4,000 killed, he looks at each and every face and feels it deeply.

Congressman Brian Baird talking to Lietta, Town Hall Meeting in South Bend, July 1, 2008Congressman Brian Baird talking with Lietta Ruger, Town Hall Meeting, South Bend, July 1, 2008

(photo courtesy of Steven Friederich of the Daily World) 


For the most part the words he chose to use with me were agreeable, but I didn’t like the words about patriotic – and I wasn’t altogether sure he understood that I am among those military families opposed to the war in Iraq and have been speaking out against the war in Iraq.  Personally, I wouldn’t say the ‘Surge’ (of troops) in Iraq is working, that would really be beyond my ability to discern.  But it does seem the violence is down, and whatever strategies are being used, our son-in-law who is deployed in Iraq now in his second ‘stop-loss’, extended 15 month deployment seems to be less at risk than had he been deployed in Iraq a year earlier.

As Congressman Baird was shaking my hand and done with his part of the conversation, and before I could correct any misperceptions, others were coming around, and reaching out to me, whereby I offered my smiles of appreciation. Right about then someone else said to us, wait, wait, I didn’t get the picture, and then snap went the camera. I remember saying is this a photo op and we shouldn’t be smiling then. It was a confusing moment, and then there were 2 reporters wanting me to spell my name, wanting my son (son-in-law, I corrected) name which I never give, and the moment to correct any misperceptions that the Congressman might have about my position had passed.

More details of this Town Hall Meeting reported in the Aberdeen Daily World articles here and here.

Posted in climate warming, coastal storm 2007, December 2007 Storm, Doppler Radar, Pacific County, Pacific County Commissioner, Pacific ocean, South Bend, spartina, storm 2007, Town Hall Meeting, U.S. Representative Brian Baird, willapa, willapa bay | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Survived hurricane-force winds of 119 mph, infrastructure collapse Pacific County, Washington coast, December 2007 Pacific Northwest storm

Posted by pallix on December 7, 2007

More on page on this website (see tabs above) dedicated to ‘Storm of the Decade, Pacific Northwest, December 2007′

Today is Friday, Dec 7, 2007 and we just got power back yesterday, Thursday, Dec 6, 2007, after being without power, communications, access in or out of the county since the storm hit last Sunday, Dec 2, 2007. It was what it was advertised by the Chinook Observer to be – the storm of the decade and it affected most all of Washington coastline with grave flooding inland and great parts of Oregon coastline. Most hard hit with massive flooding was Lewis County and Grays Harbor County, our neighboring counties. Pacific County was hit hard too, enough to collapse a seemingly fragile infrastructure; no power, no land phones, no cell phones, no 911, no access in or out of the county and even emergency communications out of county to notify status were limited and curtailed. It was an eerie feeling to be so completely cut off.

Later as the week wore on the reality of not being able to access our own bank account or get gas as gas pumps need electricity to work, and word of possible contamination of water in South Bend/Raymond, the fragility of the infrastructure not only in our own county but any county became evident to me. We must learn to rely on individual preparedness, and preparedness and help from among our community to see us through those early days of catastrophic weather events. And given what we experienced with this storm, I’m inclined to believe that with climate warming, we will see other such storms, perhaps not at that magnitude, but enough to cause breaks in the infrastructure here in Pacific County and in neighboring counties.

Sorting out how to tell parts of the story, and rather than one big fat blog entry, I will want to break it down some. For the days without power and communications (phones, cell phones, 911, emergency access), I started a journal. Now that we have power back and I am seeing via internet news all the devastation around us in our own county and neighboring counties, I recognize we are among the very fortunate.

Providing the link to the Washblog interview Noemie did with me when she phoned me yesterday to check up on us where she gives an account of what I shared with her.

Report from Lietta Ruger: Storm Causes Complete Infrastructure Collapse in Pacific Co.

I just spoke with Lietta Ruger, one of Washblog’s editors, and she asked me to post a little summary of our conversation. She plans to post something more in-depth later.

She and Arthur Ruger live in the Willapa Bay community in Bay Center. There is no locally owned broadcast media in the area, and so they rely primarily on King 5 TV for their storm warnings. KIRO and KOMO generally don’t provide coverage on their area. She said that no warnings came through mainstream media on the severe impacts that their community was expected to face from the impending storm last weekend. It was only because they happen to subscribe to what she describes as a tiny newspaper, a weekly called The Chinook Observer, that she learned her community was facing perhaps “the storm of the decade.”

Having received this one warning, she and Arthur brought out their candles and blankets and cooked up the food in their refrigerator and battened down the hatches – just in case. The storm hit on Sunday and the three of them – including Lietta’s mother – stayed indoors for two days as winds up to 119 miles an hour raged outside. There was no electricity, no phone service, no cellphone service. After the storm subsided, the roads were so impassible in every direction, and the power outage and the lack of emergency service so complete — that as far as people in her community knew, they might have separated from the rest of the United States and floated off into the Pacific Ocean.

It wasn’t until yesterday that a local store selling crank radios opened and she and Arthur were able to tune into coverage from Astoria, Oregon to find out the extent of the damage to the rest of Washington state.

Even then, most of the stores remained locked, the social services office, where emergency help is usually offered, remained closed and dark. The gas pumps, which run on electricity, don’t work. People who have medical emergencies are out of luck. And at least one woman did die, when her house caught on fire from the candles she was using to provide light.

There was no safe way to travel by water, either, because the water was moving too fast and there were too many other dangers, low tree branches, objects, etc. Even the county’s weather monitoring equipment failed. We know that winds reached 119 mph in Bay Center and 120 mph in Astoria, she said, because private citizens had equipment that withstood the wind, while the wind broke the county’s equipment.

The problem wasn’t with community members. People helped each other quite a bit. In fact, the owner of the Bay Center grocery store, a woman named Lori, drove from Long Beach through all the hazards to Bay Center and fired up the generator and stove and cooked soups and made sandwiches to serve the people in that community. And her husband and son did that in the other grocery stores owned by the family in other nearby communities. But now that the electricity has come back on, and she’s learned that the rest of the world is still here — though Grays Harbon and Lewis Counties appear to have suffered even more — now she’s feeling pretty upset.

This is a warning, she said, that we need to get our act together on emergency preparedness. We are experiencing the effects of climate change and we can expect more. This kind of storm is not on the usual scale. It’s a clear signal, as well, that we need some major changes in how we do media. Pacific County needs its own broadcast media. We talked for awhile about testimony at the recent FCC hearing in Seattle that local communities are endangered by the centralization of broadcast media. That is absolutely correct, she said. Now that she has a little time to think, it’s hitting her, the extent of this collapse of infrastructure: the lack of emergency preparedness and media coverage and the blackout on all services during the storm or for the 2 days afterwards. “This complete and utter failure, she said, “is unacceptable.

(read more at the Washblog story)

A few photos below taken by my mother of Bay Center in Pacific County, after the 2 days

of hurricane-force winds. Click on photos to see larger view.

Downed tree on Bay Center Road

Downed treee on Bay Center Road, Bay Center, WA in Pacific County, WA

Several downed trees at Bay Center residence

Several downed trees at Bay Center residence, Bay Center, WA in Pacific County,WA

Tree down on power line Bay Center Road

Tree down on power line Bay Center Road,Bay Center, WA in Pacific County,WA

Blow down trees in the county park at tip of Bay Center

Blow down trees in the county park at tip of Bay Center, WA in Pacific County,WA

More on page on this website (see tabs above) dedicated to ‘Storm of the Decade, Pacific Northwest, December 2007’


Posted in Bay Center, Bay Center Grocery Store, climate warming, coastal storm 2007, Neighboring communities, Pacific County, Pacific County Commissioner, pacific northwest storm 2007, Pacific ocean, South Bend, storm 2007, storm of the decade, willapa, willapa bay, Willapa Bay in the news | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Daily Astorian wins 2007 Dolly Connelly Award for series on climate change impact on Pacific NW

Posted by pallix on November 13, 2007

I have also posted this as front page story on Washblog.

The Daily Astorian has won the 2007 Dolly Connelly Award for excellence in environmental journalism for a series of articles on how global warming stands to impact the Pacific Northwest and its living creatures.

Established in 1998, the Connelly Award is given out annually by the association. It was established by Seattle P-I columnist Joel Connelly in memory of his mother, who worked as a freelance journalist and correspondent for Time-Life.

I learned today in Salem, Oregon Statesman Journal publishing a Seattle AP report. Hey, the Daily Astorian is our neck of the woods – out here in Bay Center, in Pacific County. So I followed the link and found a fantastic resource in the collection of articles for this special report featured in the Daily Astorian.

An award wining special report as provided by a collaborating collection of 22 writers, seven photographers, seven editors, six page designers and two logo creators from The Daily Astorian.

There are 71 articles from March 2006 to the most recent one in Sept 2007. I will be reading them over the weeks ahead and I’ve already read through several of the articles. I can see some grave relevance, not only for our immediate region on coastal Southwest WA, but along the WA coastline and those Puget Sound bodies of water.

I’m struck by how the articles reference two of the nearby towns of South Bend and Raymond in the region where we live as the ‘canaries in a coal mine’.

from one of the articles ‘What you would see here would be a hell of a mess’

Not only would the coastline change, but there is no question there would be a corresponding rise in the water table, said Douglas Canning, recently retired from the Washington Department of Ecology’s Shorelands Program and affiliated with the University of Washington’s Climate Impact Group.

A rise in the table water would cause low-lying inland lakes to expand. Areas that are now wetlands could have standing water year-round, or become small lakes. New wetlands could form on previously dry ground. Freshwater marshes could become inundated with saltwater.

Because Raymond and South Bend are feeling the symptoms, Canning suggests county leaders consider them their canaries in a coal mine.

“Those are my poster children,” for demonstrating the dangers of the long-term effects of rising ocean levels, he said. Any unanticipated consequences of climate change and a rise in the ocean level should manifest there first.

I’m also struck by the specific article on Bay Center (where we live) becoming an island. We already are an ‘island’ technically, but the article isn’t talking about the mere channel of water that separates us now from the mainland where a small bridge is our way in and out.

from one of the articles ‘Maps reveal extent of worries for Bay Center, Oysterville’

Washington’s Pacific County covers 928 square miles, but by 2100, based on predictions of ocean level rise caused by global climate change, the county could lose 20 square miles to the ocean.

A Geographic Information System analysis of Pacific County was done using a projected rise in ocean level of 3.4 feet by 2100. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates an approximate rise in ocean level of three feet by 2100, and a Canadian study suggests the Pacific Northwest may experience half as much again again as the global average.

Bay Center, bracketed by Willapa Bay and a river, will become a virtual island at high tide.

Of course, those are immediate concerns to those of us who live in Pacific County, however, I don’t think the effects are limited to Southwest Washington as much as The Daily Astorian chose to do a very comprehensive and scientific analytical report, giving me reason to be very proud of the reporting in our region from what is considered to be a small town newspaper in The Daily Astorian.

Astoria, Oregon, on Highway 101, is a Megler Bridge away from us in Pacific County, so we consider it very much part of our region. The Megler Astoria Bridge spans the mouth of the Columbia River where the river meets the Pacific Ocean.

I wonder if the newspapers to the north of us in the larger cities along western Washington coast have invested this kind of time in reporting? And if not, why not?

By pointing to the concerns we face in our region, I think the smorgasboard of articles points to larger concerns beyond just our immediate region. For example:

Will fishing cool down as the oceans warm up?


Bananas growing in Oregon?


Northwest water supplies rely on storage and conservation


It’s like a freight train coming and no one can stop it
Salmon are hardy – but can they survive warmer water? It may be hard to believe that chinook salmon or steelhead could be bothered or hurt by a few degrees warmer water

Invasive species hurting lifestyles on Long Beach Peninsula

Forests and crops struggle to beat the heat

Cranberry crop on the Peninsula may be vulnerable to climate change


Along with drier landscape comes another problem – more weeds
SPOKANE, Wash. – Bigger weeds. Weeds that go further up mountainsides. Weeds that take advantage, not only of warmer temperatures, but higher carbon dioxide levels that will accompany global climate change.


Sea birds, insects and other critters suffer amid changing climate


Growers around the Northwest point to evidence of more pests


Forests encounter new pest problems in the age of global warming


Effects on bird species bring climate change into focus
Bird count shows some new species are appearing here


Climate change activists converge in Skamakowa
(my note; Skamokawa is a tiny town in Wahkiakum County, the next county over and south from us in Pacific County. A tiny town like that taking a lead in climate change — I’m mightily impressed!)

Climate change team

This installment of the climate change series is produced by the East Oregonian Publishing Group, whose member newspapers include The Daily Astorian in Astoria, Ore., The East Oregonian in Pendleton, Ore., The Capital Press in Salem, Ore., (covering four states); the Blue Mountain Eagle in John Day, Ore., The Wallowa Chieftain in Enterprise, Ore., and the Chinook Observer in Long Beach, Wash.

I seem to have gravitated to a place where I find the focus of my attention on quite hefty and heavy topics, between activism regarding Iraq war (wars in Middle East) and concerns with climate warming. At least I feel like with the climate warming there are some things I can do (we can do, each and every one of us) that might make some difference to the greater sum in effort to work to reduce impacts. And in each little step I find I can take, I feel a small but empowered sense that this is something where we can have a unifying commonality and work together in building communities and work towards life-giving purposes.

Oh, but with Iraq war, I feel like I have failed despite my best efforts after 5 years of focused activism. I feel the failure acutely as my son-in-law leaves at the end of this week for his second deployment to Iraq. I really find myself feeling awkward in knowing what to say to him, and I can’t shake the feeling of having failed him and his wife and children when I am with them. I realize it is in the hands of Congress now, and am coming to the sad realization that there is nothing Congress will do to shift the course of Iraq war for the remainder of this President’s term. I’m not so sure Congress will do much even when (if) a new President takes on the Commander-in-Chief role in Jan 2009.

Posted in agriculture, Bay Center proper, climate warming, estuary, farming, migratory birds, Neighboring communities, oysters, Pacific County, Pacific ocean, shorebirds, South Bend, spartina, tideflats, waterfowl habitat, wetlands, willapa, willapa bay, Willapa Bay in the news | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Willapa Bay Lighthouse – Lost Lights

Posted by pallix on October 20, 2007

Another lost treasure to Willapa Bay, the Willapa Bay Lighthouse, situated on what is North Cove (Washaway Beach) where land mass tumbles into the Pacific Ocean. The Willapa Bay Lighthouse was lost in this way – depicted in historical photos below from WLA Photo Gallery

Willapa Bay Lighthouse

Willapa Bay Lighthouse-Originally known as the Shoalwater Bay Lighthouse. A fourth-order Fresnel lens provided the light’s beacon when it went into operation on October 1, 1858. “Twelve miles south of the Grays Harbor Lighthouse, the Willapa Bay Lighthouse once marked the northern side of Willapa Bay. Built in 1858, the lighthouse operated for over 80 years until it was undercut by the sea and tumbled into the bay in December of 1940.

Several replacement towers have served to mark the bay, each one being placed ever farther north and east of the original lighthouse. Much of the city of North Cove has also tumbled into the sea…The last tower, which stood three-fourths of a mile from the site of the original lighthouse, apparently succumbed to erosion in the 1990s.” (Text courtesy of “lighthousefriends.com”) Photo courtesy of E.DeWire. Date unknown.

Willapa Bay Lighthouse

Willapa Bay Lighthouse

Willapa Bay display-Westport Maritime Museum. June 2004. (click on image to enlarge). “In 1939, the lighthouse was declared unsafe and abandoned. On December 26, 1940, the lighthouse met its demise. It had been precariously hanging over the side of the bluff, looking as though it might topple at any second. The Coast Guard decided it was endangering the many sightseers who swarmed to get a last glimpse of the light. One wall had already collapsed.

First, they washed away the remaining sand from the west side of the structure and then set off a charge of dynamite which toppled the lighthouse over the brink, ending another part of U.S. Lighthouse history. The lighthouse was once accompanied by the nearby Shoalwater Bay Lifesaving Station. In 1889, the federal government decided to change the name from Shoalwater to Willapa to rightfully honor the tribe of Indians who had inhabited the land for centuries.” (Text courtesy of Lighthouse Digest, Jan1999)

see these and more photos at Washington Lightkeepers WLA Photo Gallery

Posted in Lighthouses, Neighboring communities, Pacific County, Pacific ocean, willapa bay | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Inconvenient Truths, Washington State and Willapa Bay

Posted by pallix on October 10, 2007

(I have Arthur’s permission to repost his story at Washblog here.)

 


The Tide is Out – Photo from Wa Dept of Ecology
Willapa Bay is not a Grand Canyon-type visual but the view is very much our typical Pacific Northwest coast.A week ago we watched our newest Netflix DVD, Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth. I can see why it got an Academy Award Nomination.I decided to ask Google some “Inconvenient-Truth”-related questions specifically about Willapa Bay – a sweet body of water that surrounds my house on three sides.

Some describe Willapa Bay and like locations as “estuarian,” where landlubbing freshwater blends into seagoing salt water.

Esturian locations are most frequently habitated by small cities and towns, dairies, and farmlands that are all visible on the landward side of Highway 101 to anyone driving up and down the Washington and Oregon Coasts.

Oh, and we’ve got lots of elk herds too.


Photo is mine
Then there are those mudflats with their promise of shellfish riches hidden in shallow waters.Add to that the lusting passion of property exploiters anxious to turn a dime with venture capital.A member of the Raymond city council recently told us that the council met a developer who expressed that he is willing to spend whatever it takes to gain title to waterfront properties that – according to him – constitute

the last available waterfront development properties on the entire western coastline of the United States.

We know our coastline as a repeated blending of bluffs, headlands, beaches, sand spits and dunes where lots of flora, fauna as well as water and land creatures have dwelt for thousands of years.

Except for the more popular small but expensive stretches of commercial holiday and vacation beaches, our coastline is not even moderately developed. There are lots of parks and acreage owned by Native American reservations – with or without trademark casinos.


Goose Point oyster beds – Photo Wa Dept of Ecology
The actual village of Bay Center is separated from the rest of the peninsula by a small bridge visible in the first picture above.Global Warming will bring the sea level above that narrow channel and dunes over which the bridge spans. My home town will ultimately and literally be an island.Low coastlines near major river-mouths are vulnerable to heavy weather damage, particularly flooding, mud slides and cave ins consequential to powerful rain and winds.

If global warning stirs up hotter and meaner hurricanes and typhoons elsewhere, we are seeing meaner winds, heavier rains, greater floodings coupled with more and more disappearing coastlines.

Click on Google “Light House Digest, Willapa Station” and you’ll see a series of pictures of an entire lighthouse that at one time stood at the center of a hill overlooking the ocean and the bay at Tokeland.

Tokeland as the seagull flies is less than 5 miles from Goose Point/Bay Center but almost 40 to get there by automobile.

The light station progressively moved further and further toward the water at the edge of the hill as corrosion depleted the soil. Eventually the station was hanging over the edge so precariously that engineers had to destroy it with explosive charges for safety reasons.

That was more than 65 years ago – before we knew what we were doing by spewing crap into the atmosphere.


So what does Al Gore’s message mean to Bay Center coastal creatures like me?Well, it means immediate and more frequent storms bringing bigger waves, greater road damage from blown-down trees and more soft spot collapses on the roads, bluffs and coastlines.


Photo is mine
Science types used to talk about El Nino raising the sea level for months at a time as well as temporarily altering wind and wave directions – all just periodic events that would eventually revert.Now, perhaps with or without any solitary influence of El Nino, it looks like we might be in for higher sea levels coupled with weather fluctuations that prompt permanent changes in weather, topography and human thinking.Now we move from somewhat domestic trivial concerns about not installing fragile decorative landscaping to the idea perhaps of elevating existing homes onto stilts,

reworking roofs, knocking down old dying houses and replacing them perhaps with brick and concrete.Our shallow water seafood farmers may find themselves engaged permanently in a need to manage a probable cyclical expansion of Spartina as well as the increasingly frequent episodes of pollution’s impact on coastal ecology and economy.


Mechanical treatment of Spartina meadow,Willap Bay, 2003
Photo Wa DNR
 

Experts predict climate warming in the future to likely raise global sea levels from 4 to 35 inches in the 21st century, as opposed to the 4 to 8 inch rise of the 20th century.

Regional differences in ocean circulation and heat content may result in a larger sea-level rise on the Pacific than the Atlantic coast of North America.

Then there is the idea that although we can’t feel it, the earth moves under our feet. It’s called uplift or subsidence (sinking) of the land surface itself.

The major uplifting terrains in the Northwest are at the mouth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca which rises one tenth of an inch per year.

The other is some 40 miles south of Bay Center at the mouth of the Columbia River. The earth rises there only slightly more than half an inch yearly.

That means that low-lying settlements and harbors will be at an ever-increasing risks, especially as risk is exacerbated by increasingly larger storms.

That of course means more and more loss of coastline to erosion and directional changes of sediment flows that restructure the shape of the coast line. Similar problems are consequences impacted by fluctuation in ocean stream’s directional flow.

When meaner winter storms and heavier rains soak into the soil we’ll suffer more and more land and mud slides and flooding with resulting troubles on bluffs, beach fronts as well as farms and homes along rivers.

Oh, and temperature and other changes also mean that other growing things not normally found this far north on the Pacific Coast could drift this way, stake out a claim on life and begin homesteading where they ain’t wanted; crowding out what is wanted.

… Or worse, crowding out and contaminating our natural harvestable friends out here in our shallow waters.

Ever heard of the European Green Crab? Look it up.


European green crabs in their natural habitat are smaller than those in invaded habitat – Jeff Goddard
University of California, Santa Barbara DOI. USGS. Western Ecological Research Center.
Now it is true that warmer summers might mean longer tourist seasons. Hell, if the water warms up enough we’ll have a North Pacific Waikiki Beach, complete with big surf and big surfers, right?Tourism might bloom, but for those heritage and culture-based dwellers who’ve been here for generations – who haven’t necessarily been interested in tourist trapping – folks may have to start trapping them there tourists anyway just to survive.

Closer to reality, if it warms up enough, canneries might move on, leaving cannery-supported family incomes stranded.

Expensive homes drive up prices – great!

But expensive homes don’t bring family shopping centers. No Target Stores or JC Penny – more like Lord and Taylor.

If the cannery job is lost, even if your house is paid for, who will pay those new higher property taxes?

So much for staying on the old homestead where families have laughed and wept for generations.

What to do in anticipation?

Well, I have to go to work right now, so the rest of my story will have to be next time.

… Later

by Arthur Ruger, posted at Washblog, Feb 16, 2007

Posted in Bay Center proper, Pacific ocean, willapa bay | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Washaway Beach ‘Hungry sea devours dreams’, Seattle Times article

Posted by pallix on October 10, 2007

Seattle Times isn’t the first and won’t be the last to publish an article about Washaway Beach at North Cove where Willapa Bay meets the Pacific ocean.  I’ve heard people who have lived here much longer than I tell me a bit about how Washaway Beach was once considered a playground for wealthy Seattlites in past decades.   In this time of global warming, climate change, the phenomenom of Washaway Beach which is literally washing into the ocean couldn’t be a more timely time for Seattle Times to write this article.

article;  ‘Hungry Sea Devours dreams’, Seattle Times  Sept 14, 2007

NORTH COVE, Pacific County — From Greg Tumidanski’s front deck, the steel-gray ribbon of the Pacific Ocean stretches beyond sight. Pelicans divebomb the surf. The wind is gentle and warm.

All this — a cabin on more than seven acres of oceanfront land — he picked up for just $45,000 two years ago.

It was a deal so good it just had to have a catch: Tumidanski expects his oasis on the sea to be gone in about three years, consumed by the omnivorous waves at Washaway Beach.

This two miles of shoreline at the northern confluence of the Pacific Ocean and Willapa Bay, 12 miles south of Westport, is believed to be the fastest-eroding beach on the Pacific Coast. It has lost about 65 feet a year to the sea since the late 1800s. More than 100 homes, including the entire town of North Cove, have already disappeared, many of them in the past 20 years.

Yet despite the very public destruction, official warnings and a decade-old building moratorium, people such as Tumidanski keep putting down good money for property here. Sixty-five parcels have changed hands in the past six years, long after it became virtually impossible to buy a homeowner’s policy.

It’s a perverse real-estate calculus: the closer to the water, the cheaper the land. Beachfront can be had for $500, but it might not survive the winter. On the other hand, property a quarter-mile inland can fetch $100,000 or more. After all, it might last as long as a couple of decades.

“You tell yourself, this property is usually for the rich,” Tumidanski said as he surveyed the view from his deck.

“This view, even for a few years, is worth it.”

Aptly named

As its name proves, Washaway Beach has not been a secret. As the northern channel of Willapa Bay carves away land so that it can empty more efficiently into the Pacific, one home after another has slid into the ocean.

Its historic name is Cape Shoalwater, and people two decades ago talked about saving it. But today, the cape is largely gone and so is any real hope of help from local, state and federal governments.

More than $24 million has been spent to protect Highway 105 nearby, and $12 million is planned to shelter the Shoalwater Bay Indian reservation just to the south. But there are no plans to protect the property at Washaway Beach.

Today, it’s an eerie graveyard of real estate. Dozens of rusting water pipes, chunks of foundation and pieces of asphalt sprout from the sand. Up the beach, some of the remaining properties look mostly abandoned, placidly waiting their turn to slide away.

Protecting what’s left would cost hundreds of millions of dollars, said Mike DeSimone, the head planner for Pacific County.

(read more at the article link )

Posted in Native Americans, Neighboring communities, Pacific County, Pacific ocean, willapa bay, Willapa Bay in the news | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »