Life in Bay Center on Willapa Bay

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

Posts Tagged ‘willapa bay’

Another of the views we see in Bay Center

Posted by pallix on April 8, 2009

Dock on Palix River side of Bay Center

Dock on Palix River side of Bay Center

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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 »

Sunny Autumn Day at the very blue Bay Center

Posted by pallix on October 26, 2007

I took my dog, Jake, for a thorough and long walk yesterday, going a little further than we usually walk. It was a crisp, sunny, Autumn day and perfect for getting out of the house after the wind and rain storms of the week before. My mother had sent some of her digital photos of Autumn colors where she lives and I had thought I might take some photos to show off Autumn where I live. Well, I didn’t find much color, found a lot of blue, but some great photos anyway. Sharing a few here.

processing building Bay Center

full size click here – processing building Palix River, on Bay Center Dike Road

Fishing boat

full size click here – Fishing boat on Palix River, Bay Center Dike Road

processing building on pier posts

full size click here – processing building on pier posts, Palix River on Bay Center Dike Road

private ramp and dock

full size click here – private ramp and dock on Palix River, Bay Center Dike Road

dock for fishing boats

full size click here – private dock for fishing boats, Palix River, Bay Center Dike Road

Dock of the Bay tavern and restaraunt Bay Center, WA
full size click here – Dock of the Bay tavern and restaraunt Bay Center, WA

old historic Pioneer Cemetary, Bay Center, WA
full size click here – old historic Pioneer Cemetary, Bay Center, WA

historic former owners of our house; Bochau marker at  Pioneer Cemetary, Bay Center, WA

full size click here – historic former owners of our house; Bochau marker at Pioneer Cemetary, Bay Center, WA


View of the Palix River and Bay Center Port from old historic Pioneer Cemetary

full size click here – View of the Palix River and Bay Center Port from old historic Pioneer Cemetary


Oyster shell holding area - oyster shells galore

full size click here – Oyster shell holding area – oyster shells galore

Posted in Bochau family, dock, oyster farms, oysters, Pacific County, photos, restaraunts, tideflats, Uncategorized, wetlands, willapa bay | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Is the Idyllic Estuary known as Willapa Bay under threat?

Posted by pallix on October 17, 2007

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Many say yes to the need to control spartina in Willapa Bay while some say no need to spray chemicals in pristine Willapa Bay to control spartina. I’m paying curious attention, since we are now residents on this wondrous bay. What we have come to take as indicative and a large part of the reason why we chose to put roots down here in the region of Willapa Bay – Willapa Hills – in Pacific County of Washington was the untouched by humans wilderness aspect of life in this area. In the near decade we have lived here, we have learned a bit about the region from our neighbors at work, at church, at home and in the community.

We do not work in the primary industries of timber, commercial fishing, farming, tourism, or small business that make up most of the industry in this region. So we remain always respectful onlookers, observers, if you will, of those who labor in these industries.

Of late though, my attention has been drawn to something that would likely not have been more than passing interest to me were it not for the fact that it is the reality of where we live. More out of curiosity than necessity, I’ve been drawn into doing a bit of looking into the research of others, far more expert than I, on the matter of eco-relationship of life forms who share the Willapa Bay; plant life, marine life, bird refuge, and human life.

We know a bit about the oyster farms, oyster farmers, and commercial fishing industry in the area because they are our neighbors, but also because our employment vocations put us in touch with the ebbs and flows of human economic sustenance in this region. If it isn’t going well for the marine life here, then it isn’t going well for the human life here either. There is a strong interdependence and one in which human stewardship plays an important role. A role seemingly well understood by the people who know and appreciate with respect the history, the immediate present and the future of Willapa Bay.

Oyster farming on Willapa Bay, Washington

Oyster farming on Willapa Bay

My (step) father introduced us to awareness of Willapa Bay because he and my mother made almost annual visits here, and both would tell us of their trip that year. One of the things he used to tell us, often and with great pride, was that Willapa Bay was the third largest bay in the country and the most pristine. He was a longshoreman and had at an earlier time in his life, in his younger years worked the docks and boats on Willapa Bay. He passed last year, Jan 2006, and some of his friends may well remember Charlie Ellsworth. He was a guy’s guy kind of man, honest, forthright, sincere, loyal, a veteran and had a strong work ethic. His pride of the Willapa often piqued my interest, but not enough to seek it out and see for myself until one day…..

My husband and I took a planned camping trip ourselves to meet up with my children at Fort Stevens in Warrenton, Oregon. Causing us to drive on Highway 101, through towns of South Bend, Raymond, which we actually had never heard of before and then about 10 miles out of South Bend, was the road sign for Bay Center — the place were my mom and dad took an annual vacation trip. Thus was our introduction to this region of Washington and it was so breath-taking that I wondered aloud if we could transfer our employment here and take up residence here. (We both were employees for State of Washington, Dept. Social and Health Services and can transfer where openings exist in offices in Washington state).

There was one opening, not two, and my husband got himself transferred to South Bend, and we moved here and thus began our life in Willapa. Over the years, as we got acquainted with the area, we knew it was among those considered economically depressed and that while it was not flourishing in terms of human economic development, it was an environmental treasure not yet exploited. Unlike some residents who are generational families living in the area, we are imports – from the city – no less, but we have become very attached to the beauty of the region and feel blessed to have the opportunity to live here.

This was more quiet knowing on my part. Over the years we have lived here, I have only begun to understand how important the region is to Washington state and on a larger scale to other bay, estuary, wilderness communities that have been less cautious in their over development and exploitation of the fragile co-existence that must remain to preserve the quality of life that keeps Willapa Bay the least spoiled estuary environments in North America.

No, this is not me bragging – this is me being astonished at how others, more versed and knowledgeable define Willapa Bay. And that does then, cause me to be proud of where we live, and desire to enter into a stewardship to preserve what is here for future generations to appreciate. Do my grandchildren care deeply whether spartina will overtake the bay and turn it from a mud bay estuary refuge for the thousands of migratory birds? Or will they care if the oyster farmers who have an enormous stake in the condition of the bay will continue to be watchful stewards and keepers of the bay? Will they care – not likely, but if not my grandchildren, than I know some others grandchildren may indeed care – and deeply.

I defer to others more learned than I on the matter, in recognition that I could not begin to acquire that kind of knowlege base beyond that of a reader, listener, and resident here on Willapa Bay. What do I know about burrowing shrimp, ghost shrimp, mud shrimp – native species to Willapa Bay and their impact on oysters – not native to Willapa Bay yet perhaps exactly because of the shepherding of oyster farmers exists Willapa Bay as I have come to know it — as my father said in pride – it is the most pristine bay in the country.

Thalassinidea (ghost shrimp)

Thalassinidea (ghost shrimp)

What do I know of the plant life spartina, except what I see waving on the shore and in the waters at the beaches where I live on Willapa Bay, in the Palix river that borders Bay Center Dike Road on it’s way to emptying into Willapa Bay. What do I know about the ongoing environmentally controversial matter of whether to use chemical sprays to help (or hinder) the interplay of life that now exists on Willapa Bay and likely needs to continue to remain, if not thrive and flourish on Willapa Bay.

A clump of Spartina alterniflora

A clump of Spartina alterniflora

I know very little, but I know enough to know that it is worthwhile to remain curious and interested enough to try to follow along as an interested observer, an interested bystander, an interested onlooker. And for that reason, I want to add links like the one below that do a better job of investigative reporting than I could begin to do. My son, attending Oregon State University, not that interested in what happens at Willapa Bay found himself having to learn about geology and with that a study of Willapa Bay. I have come to understand that universities and colleges in both Washington and Oregon continue to study Willapa Bay. I have come to appreciate that Willapa Bay has much to offer as a study in what is working that keeps it what it is; a clean, pristine bay – estuary – mudflats – tidelands – wilderness – refuge.

Willapa Bay Migrating Birds

photo courtesy of Friends of Willapa National Wildlife Refuge

Washington State Magazine

Willapa Bay, also known as Shoalwater, is the largest estuary between San Francisco and Puget Sound. It boasts one of the least-spoiled environments and the healthiest salmon runs south of Canada, produces one in every four oysters farmed in the United States, and is a favorite pit stop for tens of thousands of migratory birds.

And it’s in trouble.

The infestation of Spartina, imported by accident from the East Coast, collects enough silt to raise the bay floor by up to a foot, turning much of Willapa’s enviably productive tidal zone into a giant, unkempt lawn. At the same time, other introduced plants and animals and two opportunistic species of native shrimp also threaten to spoil the pristine bay.

“If you lose Willapa Bay, it’s of both state and national significance,” says Kim Patten (’83 Ph.D. Horticulture), a Washington State University researcher and associate professor of horticulture who is a leader in the battle for the bay.

“I think it’s a national treasure, because every estuary in North America would try to emulate it. There’s no other estuary out there like it,” Patten says. “We have sort of an idyllic estuary. It’s not perfect, but for all intents and purposes, it’s a very functioning estuary. You don’t get better than that.”

Environmentally, aquatic landscapes from Chesapeake Bay to San Francisco Bay are infamous for what they’ve lost. Willapa Bay’s protectors want to make it renowned for what it kept. They’re starting to get noticed.

Last June, the National Audubon Society ranked Willapa Bay second—just behind part of Florida’s Everglades—in its Cooling the Hot Spots report detailing wildlife areas threatened by invasive species. That followed a similar listing in the National Wildlife Refuge Association’s 2002 report, Silent Invasion. And the Nature Conservancy has made protecting the bay and its rich watershed one of its highest Washington priorities.

Senator Patty Murray (’72 Recreation) and her colleagues helped secure another $1 million in federal funding for this season’s work, the second in a six-year, multi-partner plan to eradicate Spartina. The state is pitching in hundreds of thousands more.

“It’s so common for us to not realize what we’ve got until we lost it,” says U.S. Representative Brian Baird, D-Vancouver. “This wonderful bay faces some real threats. Spartina, for example, is a nightmare. It can turn the Willapa Bay into the Willapa Prairie.”

……..

President Franklin D. Roosevelt established Willapa National Wildlife Refuge in 1937 to protect habitat for migrating birds. But as Spartina has thickened, Willapa’s legions of shorebirds have thinned.

Shorebirds flock to unspoiled tidal flats to peck for worms, midges, nematodes, and other critters that make up the “groceries” that fuel the birds’ long migrations along the West Coast. Some also will forage among the stubble and wrack of dead Spartina, but they won’t venture into living meadows where predators might lurk.

“Willapa Bay is one of the few stepping-stones of habitat left for migrating birds from South and Central America to Canada and Alaska,” says Nina Carter, policy director for Audubon Washington. She helped lobby her national organization to train a spotlight on Willapa’s disappearing habitat for short-billed dowitchers and tens of thousands of other shorebirds that migrate through each year.

Posted in burrowing shrimp, estuary, Friends of Willapa, ghost shrimp, marine life, marsh, migratory birds, mud shrimp, oyster farms, oysters, Pacific County, shorebirds, spartina, tideflats, Uncategorized, waterfowl habitat, wetlands, willapa, 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 »

Tacoma News Tribune article about Willapa National Wildlife Refuge; ‘Paradise, So Close to Home’

Posted by pallix on October 4, 2007

Well written article appeared in the Tacoma News Tribune, Sept 27, 2007 calling attention to Willapa National Wildlife Refuge and beautifully describing the area where we live on pristine Willapa Bay. Aptly titled ‘Paradise, so close to home’ and written by Jeffrey P. Mayor, I am pleased to recommend the article which says better than I can what is beautiful about the region where we have chosen to live.

excerpts;

The mix of ocean beach, tideflats, freshwater marshes, an island dotted with towering cedars and a unique art trail make the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge a worthwhile stop.

Established in 1937 by President Franklin Roosevelt, the refuge now covers more than 26,000 acres and 260 square miles of water.

It’s a birder’s paradise, home to Western snowy plovers and great blue herons. It’s also a rest stop for countless migrating ducks and geese.

It’s a place where kayakers can paddle up to a waterfront campsite on Long Island. In the middle of the island is a 274-acre stand of remnant old-growth Western red cedars.

It’s home to 13 species of amphibians, black bear, deer and elk.

… spending a day exploring the ancient cedar grove, one of the prime attractions on Long Island.

The largest estuarine island on the West Coast, the island covers 5,400 acres. It is home to Sitka spruce and Western hemlock, black bears, elk and deer.

“Long Island is a real treat of a place. The ancient cedars there are pretty unique. They are among the oldest in Washington,” said Yoav Bar-Ness of The Nature Conservancy.

And as the reading finishes reading the article, and visualizing what we know to be true, a bit of a description of a Pacific Northwest paradise – nature as it might have been 100 years or more ago – the article ends with four challenges at Willapa National Wildlife Refuge

Four challenges at Willapa National Wildlife Refuge

1. Dune ecology and restoration
The issue: In the Leadbetter Point Unit, refuge staff members are dealing with the spread of European beach grass. It was planted to stabilize the sand dunes and has done that job too well.
The impact: The proliferation of the grass has harmed the species that require more open dune terrain, such as the Western snowy plover. That has forced the plovers to nest at the edge of the grasses, making them more susceptible to predators. Also, wind-blown sand covers the eggs the plovers lay on the open beach.
The work: Staff members have partnered with oyster operations in the area. They are using shells to stabilize the beach without use of grass. Charlie Stenvall, project leader at the refuge, said they have been able to clear 85 acres, with a goal of 100 acres.

2. Forest restoration
The issue: Rehabilitating forest areas that have been cut for timber.
The impact:One estimate says that less than 1 percent of the original coastal old growth remains. The loss of old-growth stands has affected wildlife, such as the marbled murrelet.
The work: The refuge is looking to revitalize its forest lands through thinning, reintroduction of declining tree and plant species and eliminating unnecessary forest roads. “We’re trying to return these to an old-growth forest. The time frame is we have to do the work now. But we many not know if we hit it right for 100 years,” Stenvall said.

3. Spartina
The issue: Also known as smooth cordgrass, it’s thought that spartina came to the area in the late 1890s when it was used as packing material. In 1997, 25 percent to 32 percent of Willapa Bay’s nearly 47,000 acres of tidal flats was infested with spartina.
The impact: Spartina reproduces faster, overtaking native plants. Its spread also forces some animals to find new nesting areas, and it often covers feeding and resting areas for migrating birds. It also threatens to overgrow oyster beds throughout the bay.
The work: The refuge has partnered with the state and other agencies. “That goes on ad nauseum. But we are making lots of progress on that,” Stenvall said. He cited a stream where the spartina had been removed, hoping to revive a chum salmon run. Last November the chum failed to show, “but there were thousands of shorebirds in the area where there was a spartina meadow.”

4. Budget
The issue: The refuge’s annual budget is $1.3 million. That has risen just $200,000 in the last five years. In addition, that money also goes to operate the nearby Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge and the Julia Butler Hansen Refuge for Columbia white-tailed deer. There are just 13 employees to work at all three refuges.
The impact: A meager budget makes it difficult to meet the six public uses mandated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: environmental education, interpretation, photography, hunting, fishing and wildlife observation. One example is that the refuge’s Salmon Art Trail is not open on weekends because of a lack of staff.
The work: “All the things we’re doing, we couldn’t do them without partnerships,” Stenvall said. “They’re worth millions, that’s not a joke. Our partnerships bring in more for our resource protection than I get through my federal budget.”

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Dock of the Bay and the Willapa Whopper burger

Posted by pallix on October 4, 2007

We know a bit of the history of the ‘Dock of the Bay’ restaraunt and tavern in Bay Center. For decades it was known as ‘The Blue Heron’ under ownership of Beverly Smith. She sold it a couple of years ago, and the new owners, from out of the area, Yelm, WA, tried to make a go of it but it didn’t go. Last year a local couple bought it and seem to making a go of it. So we’ve eaten there and even had a few beers under three different owners. We will ‘treat’ ourselves every once in a while to a meal there when we are permitting ourselves to eat meat. Our efforts at being sort of vegetarians go along well enough, allowing for occasional white meat as chicken, but every once in a while we just have to lapse and have a good old fashioned heavy duty burger and we know two places to get them – ‘Dock of the Bay’ and Clarks Restaraunt in Artic, WA.

So it was pleasing to see a write up that included and referenced the Willapa Whopper burger on the menu of Dock of the Bay in Bay Center. My husband, Arthur (Sweetie), had one of those Willapa Whopper burgers at one of our outings, and the amount of meat on the burger is close to obscene! He dared me to have one at another of our outings, and I can’t believe I took him up on his dare, but I did and sure enough, there are so many ingredients of that burger, it gives the Clark’s Restaraunt menu item of a hot doggity burger a real run for the money.

Article from Coast Weekend – Mouth of the Columbia:, These Willapa Bay roadside attractions are worth the stop

Pacific County, Wash. – On a clear day, following the Pallix River from U.S. Highway 101 west to Bay Center, then returning along the Willapa Bay shoreline (on Bay Center Road), is as pretty a drive as you’ll experience anywhere in the Northwest.

Oysters are king here, and the Willapa bivalves are grilled to perfection at Dock of the Bay, the only restaurant between Naselle and South Bend.

Savvy diners may remember this place as the Blue Heron Inn. Not much has changed since the change in name and ownership, save for the cosmetic improvements to the rough ‘n’ tumble lounge. You still might see a patron kicking back an oyster shooter and a beer at, say, 10 a.m. on a Sunday morning. Unless you want to belly up to the bar or play a game of pool, the small adjacent dining room, where slanted windows look out toward the harbor, is a better bet to enjoy a meal.

Our favorite time to mingle among the locals is morning, though fishermen and loggers ofttimes occupy the three tables during noontime and dinner, too. The half-pound Willapa Whopper burger draped with ham, bacon and an egg is popular, as are the deep-fried or sautéed prawns and the fish baskets. But we come for oysters, especially the hangtown fry omelet or oysters and eggs. The latter breakfast, available any time, showcases a quartet of medium-sized Willapa Bay beauties, oysters so fresh they taste of morning sunlight sparkling on saltwater. Accompanying hash browns, and lots of them, are the real deal: grated taters heated on the same grill as the ‘sters. A heartier breakfast you won’t find, but don’t come here expecting espresso (coffee’s from a pot), tea other than Lipton or anything fussy or fancy.

Other meals featuring oysters include a six-ounce steak and ‘sters, oyster burgers, oyster club sandwiches and a seven-piece oyster dinner sided with a flavorful oyster stuffing that’s unlike anything you’ve ever tasted from inside a turkey.

Dock of the Bay, Bay Center Road and Second Street, Bay Center, Wash., (360) 875-5130, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays (open every day in summer); breakfast and lunch entrees less than $10, dinner $9 to $20; must be 21 or older to dine here.

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Canoeing on Willapa Bay to Long Island

Posted by pallix on October 3, 2007

A video that explores a canoe trip of the estuaries of Willapa Bay (Long Island). Link to video at Google. Looks like what we look at every day living on Willapa Bay. Pleased to have found this google video – sharing it here.

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