Anderson Point Park opens today

AndersonPointOpen

Anderson Point Park’s nearly five-year-long closure came to an end this morning.

The South Kitsap park had been closed since the winter of 2010, when heavy rains triggered small landslides and sparked concerns about safety.

Hillside stabilization work and improved drainage concluded recently and issues with neighbors over public access appears to have been worked out. The park is open daily from 6 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. through the end of the month. The hours will change in June to match daylight hours.

APTrail

Joel Colvos, who has been active in the campaign to reopen the park, was one of the first visitors this foggy morning. He snapped a few photos that you can see in this post. The sun’s out now, so it’s a perfect time to check out one of the best public beaches on the Kitsap Peninsula.

The park is between Banner Forest Park and Olalla. Take Banner Road to Millihanna Road. From the parking lot at the end of Millihanna, take the trail down the hill to the beach. It’s a bit of a walk and it’s all uphill on the way back.

The Kitsap County Parks Department now wants to channel the activism that pushed for the park’s reopening into hands-on volunteerism. The department put out a call for people to help keep the park clean and its trail clear.

Here’s the department’s announcement:

With the reopening of Anderson Point Park, the Kitsap County Parks Department is seeking volunteers to assist with the maintenance and upkeep of this beautiful park. Volunteer projects may include removal of invasive weeds and replanting with native vegetation, repair of the park kiosk, and general park clean-ups. The parks department will also appreciate park volunteers being extra eyes and ears on the park.

Kitsap County Parks is holding an informational meeting for all interested volunteers at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 26 at the Long Lake Community Center, 5100 Long Lake Road.

For more information on this valuable volunteer opportunity, please contact Lori Raymaker at Lraymaker@co.kitsap.wa.us or 360.337.5372.

Looking back on 35 years of volcano watching

Mt

No volcanic eruption in history was as closely watched as the one that rocked the Northwest 35 years ago today.

Mount St. Helens, visible from Seattle and Tacoma, was within sight of millions of people when it blew a 12-mile-high column of smoke and ash into the sky on May 18, 1980.

“What was unusual about the eruption of Mount St. Helens … was that it had taken place in a developed country, clearly visible from the skyscrapers and universities of the Northwest’s two largest cities,” wrote Rob Carson in Mount St. Helens: The Eruption and Recovery of a Volcano. “People rushed to the mountain, fascinated and horrified at the same time. In the days after the blast, news photographers fought for access to helicopters; scientists, would-be scientists, tourists and reporters stormed the barricades set up around the edges of the blast zone, wheedling, cajoling, threatening guards to let them in.”

STHelensBook

Carson was among the many journalists there to document the aftermath. He was an editor with Pacific Northwest magazine, the precursor to Seattle Magazine. Carson continued to write about St. Helens as a special projects reporter for the Tacoma News Tribune. When it came time to write a book to mark the 10th anniversary of the eruption, Carson – who had been nicknamed ‘The Volcano Guy’ by his colleagues – was the natural choice. The first edition of Mount St. Helens was published in 1990.

The book was republished last month to mark the eruption’s 35th anniversary. The 160-page 2015 edition has new photos and an added chapter on the mountain’s recovery and the vast leaps in volcano research since 1980.

Carson lives on Bainbridge Island and continues to write for the News Tribune. I met him at his neighborhood coffee shop to talk about the decades he’s spent writing about St. Helens.

“It’s funny how quickly things slip into history,” he said. “When you live through it, it’s so vivid. Some people were so young when it happened that they have no memory of it at all.”

Carson was part of the scrum of reporters who showed up for the many press conferences before the eruption. Far from a surprise, the eruption came after weeks of rumbling and steaming.

“We kept asking ‘when is it going to blow up?’ And of course they didn’t know,” Carson said. “Weeks were going by and it was getting frustrating.”

Carson was in a Seattle bar when the mountain finally popped its top.

“I was in the U-District on 45th when I saw it on TV,” he said. “I thought ‘finally it’s gone off!’”

The volcano didn’t erupt upward, as many scientists had predicted, but sideways. It’s blast was so powerful it stripped nearby ridges clean of soil, vaporized plants and toppled trees nearly 20 miles away. The boom could be heard as far away as Saskatoon. Several drainages were flooded when 70 percent of the mountain’s snow and ice melted all at once from the intense heat of the eruption. The water came down in a raging, super-heated slurry of mud, ash and avalanche debris.

Carson remembers visiting the Toutle River, where he saw houses half-buried in mud.

“They were buried right up into their windows. I found a basketball hoop with its net six inches from the top of the mud.”

Fifty-seven people were killed by the eruption. Some were flooded in their homes, some were choked by ash as they watched the eruption from what they thought was a safe distance.

“People were sneaking in (to the closure zones) and trying to get as close as they possibly could,” Carson said.

As devastating as the eruption was, it didn’t take long for the mountain’s slopes to spring back to life.

St. Helens today. Photo: Bala Sivakumar/Flickr
St. Helens today. Photo: Bala Sivakumar/Flickr

“It was such a cool thing to watch the earth recover, and so fast,” he said. “Only a few weeks after, scientists found spiders in the blast zone. They had drifted in on their webs on air currents. Birds were dropping seeds. Animals that had burrowed underground were poking their heads out.”

Human-led efforts at recovery were not so successful. Carson recounts in his book how $20 million in federal emergency-relief funds went toward seeding and chemically-fertilizing the blast zone. Of the 13 grass species spread across the mountain, only one was native to the Northwest. Most of the seeds failed to take root and much of the fertilizer blew away in powdery clouds.

“Worse, in places where the grass took hold, it short-circuited the natural process by hardening the top layer of the debris, keeping the native plants out,” Carson wrote.

Geologists conduct tests on Mount St. Helens in 2004. Photo: Ted S. Warren/AP
Geologists conduct tests on Mount St. Helens in 2004. Photo: Ted S. Warren/AP

The eruption triggered rapid advances in the field of volcanology.

“It was revolutionized,” Carson said. “Geologists used to have to do everything by the seat of their pants. They’d have to go up and land at the crater and do measurements with carpentry tools. Now they do it with remote sensors and instantly get measurements back.”

What happens in the depths of St. Helens is still a mystery.

“And predicting eruptions is not at all a certainty,” he said.

So, when will it erupt again?

“Could be this afternoon or in a couple hundred years,” he said.

For Carson, St. Helens made clear that nothing is forever.

“We think of mountains as these stable points, like touchstones,” he said. “When everything changes around us, you can always look at the mountains as something that’s permanent. But it’s not at all permanent. Rainier’s a volcano, and things are changing underneath. It’s like they say: there is nothing permanent but change.”


Mount St. Helens: The Eruption and Recovery of a Volcano is published by Sasquatch Books. More info can be found here.

Bainbridge falls to Port Angeles in ‘Best Towns’ competition

PA

It was close, but Port Angeles managed to top Bainbridge Island in Outside magazine’s annual “Best Towns” competition.

Voting closed last night. The last time I checked (around 9 p.m.) Port Angeles was leading by about 250 votes. No other Washington cities had been selected for the competition by Outside’s editors.

It took a lot of clicking to stuff the digital ballot box.

“My fingers are so tired of 5 hours of voting,” wrote one Port Angelino on Facebook this morning. “We were 200 behind when I started at 3:30 and with everyone’s help, We WON!”

“We did!!! wheeew! good thing i had the house to myself and was watching crap tv while voting,” wrote another frequent voter on the Revitalize Port Angeles Facebook page.

“I love the way everyone’s hard work pays off in this type of contest,” added a third.

Photo: Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association
If Glenwood Springers don’t bother with clothes, will they bother with Internet polls? Photo: Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association

P.A. must now out-click Glenwood Springs, Colorado, which also advanced to the third round.

Glenwood Springs has about half the population of Port Angeles, so that may put them at some disadvantage. Plus, the weather’s really nice in Colorado right now. While it rains on the peninsula, keeping P.A.-ers at their computers, Glenwood’s residents are probably playing outdoors. According to Outside, there’s plenty to enjoy: a whitewater park on the Colorado River, nearby hot springs, lakes, caves, canyons, forested mountain bike trails and a plenty of rock climbing routes.

“Adventure is part of the locals’ genes,” according to Outside.

We’ll now see if incessant Internet voting is another Glenwooder gene trait.

Top photo: Port Angeles campaign poster by Tammy Lynn French.

Final fundraising push for Grovers Creek Preserve

Great Peninsula Conservancy has launched an online fundraising campaign to drum up the last $25,000 needed to purchase a forestland west of North Kitsap Heritage Park.

Known as Grovers Creek, the 270-acre property is particularly valued as habitat for wildlife. Grovers Creek has stands of old-growth trees, wetlands and streams supporting coho and cutthroat. It’s at the heart of several North Kitsap properties slated for acquisition through the Kitsap Forest & Bay Project. It’s aim is to preserve nearly 7,000 acres between Kingston and Port Gamble and install several miles of the Sound to Olympics regional trail.

About $1.8 million for Grovers Creek as already been raised from grants and large donations. A recent contribution came from local Audubon groups. GPC hopes to have the last $25,000 in just over two weeks. As of this morning, $3,450 had been raised.

For more about the project, watch the above video and go to the Save Grovers Creek Preserve fundraising page.

It’s now Bainbridge vs. Port Angeles for the state’s best outdoor town

Screenshot 2015-05-13 09.40.13As I wrote last week, Bainbridge Island and Port Angeles were the two Washington towns chosen for Outside magazine’s annual “Best Towns” competition.

BI and PA managed to best Ashland, Ore. and Santa Barbara, Calif. to advance in the first round. Now they face each other. It’s an affluent island in the heart of Puget Sound vs. a working class town in the shadow of the Olympic Mountains.

Today is the last day to weigh in. The winner will take on either Glenwood Springs, Colorado or Whitefish, Montana. To cast your vote, head over here.

As of this morning, Port Angeles had a slight edge (about 300 votes) over Bainbridge. I’m seeing Bainbridge Islanders mounting a late get-out-the vote campaign via social media, so things could change before voting closes tonight.

“We have a long way to go to catch Port Angeles in this bracket! Vote now!,” Bainbridge outdoor clothing and gear store Wildernest wrote on its Facebook page last night.

“Keep your votes coming!” the Bainbridge Island Downtown Association urged this morning. “We are running behind Port Angeles right now. We love them, but let’s vote for us to be the “Best Town Ever”!!”

Port Angeles’ campaign is a little more advanced. They’ve already made up a few campaign materials poking fun at Bainbridge.

Here’s my favorite:

FerrytoCanada

Bainbridge is a finalist in Outside magazine’s “Best Towns” competition

Cyclists pedal along Winslow Way during Bainbridge's 2015 Chilly Hilly ride. Meegan M. Reid/Kitsap Sun
Cyclists pedal along Winslow Way during Bainbridge’s 2015 Chilly Hilly ride. Meegan M. Reid/Kitsap Sun

Bainbridge Island is one of just two Washington towns vying for a place in Outside magazine‘s annual “Best Towns” competition.

Outside is letting readers narrow a list of 64 towns through a series of voting rounds. The first round pits Bainbridge against Ashland, Oregon.

Here’s what Outside had to say about Kitsap’s island city:

“Thirty miles of multiuse trails link Bainbridge Island, just a 35-minute ferry ride from Seattle. However you navigate it, you’ll pass a network of vineyards, organic farms, and nature reserves. You can even camp on the beach at Fay Bainbridge Park, 15 minutes from the shops and cafés of Winslow Way.”

Photo: Visitashlandoregon.com
Photo: Visitashlandoregon.com

Ashland is framed a bit differently. Instead of farms, vineyards and coffee shops, the south Oregon town offers a playground for “serious trail runners,” skiers, river rafters and the hard-core hikers of the Pacific Crest Trail.

Both towns are about the same size, but homes are cheaper in Ashland. Prices there are about $250,000 lower than the $610,000 you’ll likely pay on Bainbridge.

The other Washington city in the running is Port Angeles. To move forward in the bracket, P.A. will have to top Santa Barbara, California. As Kitsap Sun sports editor Nathan Joyce put it, “that’s like a 16 seed vs. a number one,” or, to put it another way, it’s like North Dakota State taking on Duke.

Also representing the West are Flagstaff, Juneau, Santa Fe, Las Vegas and Ogden.

To be chosen for the competition, a town had to offer “top-notch restaurants, vibrant farmers’ markets, friendly neighborhoods, and unparalleled access to hiking and biking trails,” Outside’s editors wrote. “In short, the perfect jumping-off point for adventure.”

Fun times in Duluth. Bala Sivakumar/Flickr
Fun times in Duluth. Bala Sivakumar/Flickr

No Washington or Oregon towns made the top 10 in last year’s competition. Duluth, Minnesota was ranked #1, topping such outdoor meccas as Boulder (#10) and Missoula (#9). So, clearly, the competition’s rigged. Or at least it favors voters who vote early and often.

Port Angeles understands this. The town’s chamber of commerce is mounting a “get-out-the-vote drive.” In a recent email missive, the chamber noted that Outside’s “target market is 2.5 million people.” The typical Outside reader’s annual income is more $90,000, “making this an attractive demographic to promote outdoor opportunities available in Washington state, and especially Port Angeles…”

Who knows, Port Angeles could be the next Duluth. As much as the name ‘Duluth’ might conjure images of an icy lake port, snagging the #1 spot increased tourism and positive press coverage, according to the P.A. chamber.

You have until Friday to vote in the initial round. The winners of each round will advance until the final two towns face off. The top 16 will be announced in Outside’s September issue.

At last check, Bainbridge had a strong lead over Ashland and P.A. had just edged past Santa Barbara.

Cast your vote here.

Latest aerial view of rapidly-changing mouth of the Elwha River

MouthElwha

Above is the latest aerial photo of the dramatic changes happening at the mouth of the undammed Elwha River.

The photo was taken on Saturday by Tom Roorda for the Coastal Watershed Institute.

The mouth grows wider and more complex by the day. Increased sediment flow and other changes are drawing a host of species, including salmon, seabirds, and the threatened candlefish, which hadn’t been seen in the mouth of the Elwha for decades.

Below are two older photos of the Elwha’s mouth. The one on the left shows the mouth just after the removal project began in late 2011. The photo on the right was taken prior to dam removal.

BeforeElwha

“After over 20 years of grappling to keep nearshore restoration on the radar we’re gratified that the Elwha nearshore has evolved into a poster child for the heart-lifting evolution that happens when one removes two large scale dams,” wrote CWI’s director Anne Shaffer in an email.

For more about CWI’s work in the Elwha’s nearshore environment, head over here.

Scenes from shrimping season’s opening day

Screenshot 2015-05-05 12.17.54

A sunny skies and easy breezes helped make for a busy opening day of Puget Sound’s all-too-brief shrimping season.

I headed to Dabob Bay near Quilcene to drop pots. The first pot I pulled, after just an hour of waiting on the waves, had about 30 orange and white-stripped and spotted shrimp.

Hood Canal has four more days of shrimping: May 9, 11 and 13. Open hours are from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For more about the shrimping season, head over to the state Fish & Wildlife page.

Here are a few more pics of the Quilcene shrimping scene…

Shrimpers took beachside breaks while their pots gathered in the catch.
Shrimpers took beachside breaks while their pots gathered in the catch.
Social hour on Dabob Bay
Social hour on Dabob Bay
Tossing a pot before the 1 p.m cutoff.
Tossing a pot before the 1 p.m cutoff.

More photos after the jump.
Continue reading

Bear danger closes camping at Enchanted Valley

EVTrailhead

Bears appear to be getting a taste for human food and losing a fear of humans in Olympic National Park’s Enchanted Valley.

Black bears have approached hikers in the valley and at least one bear was seen eating human food and trash.

EVRiverIn response, the park closed six miles of the valley to camping on Friday. The camping restriction extends from Pyrites Creek to the O’Neill Pass trail junction. The area remains open for hiking.

Park officials say bears that eat human food come to consider people as a food source, and “are extremely dangerous.”

Stay at least 50 yards away from bears and keep food, trash and all scented items (lotions, deodorant, toothpaste, etc.) stored and out of reach of wildlife at all times, park officials said in a statement.

The area will remain closed to camping for 30 days.

Park info about how to keep food and garbage safe is available here.

For information about wilderness hiking and camping, including current trail condition reports, visit Olympic’s online Wilderness Trip Planner or stop by the park’s visitor center in Port Angeles. It’s open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. or call (360) 565-3100.

Photos: Enchanted Valley. Tristan Baurick/Kitsap Sun

Kitsap Sun brings Pacific Crest Trail documentary to Bremerton

Do More With Less | Trailer from Do More With Less on Vimeo.

The Kitsap Sun is bringing the filmmakers of a new documentary about the Pacific Coast Trail to Bremerton for a special screening at the Admiral Theatre.

Mark your calendars now for the June 4 event at 7 p.m.

‘Do More With Less’ highlights the beauty of the trail, which runs from Mexico to Canada, and the people who dedicate months to hiking its 2,650 miles.

The filmmakers, Eric Timmerman and Travis Barron, are coming up from Austin, Texas to present the documentary and answer questions.

One hiker featured in the documentary is Bremerton resident Kevin Koski. I profiled Kevin in 2013 after he won an award for his work with Olympic Mountain Rescue. He just happened to be hiking the PCT when the filmmakers were making the ‘Do More With Less.’ You can catch a few glimpses of Kevin in the trailer (above). At the 1:33 mark, you can spot him over on the right, munching camp food with fellow hikers.

Kevin will give a presentation of his journey just before the June 4 screening.

The Kitsap Sun is donating the proceeds from ticket sales to the Washington Trails Association and the Pacific Crest Trails Association.

Here are the details:

TIME & DATE: 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 4
WHERE: Admiral Theatre, 515 Fifth Street, Bremerton
TICKETS: $10. Call (360) 373-6743 or visit the Admiral Theatre website to purchase in advance. All ages welcome.