I’ve always enjoyed listening to sounds, whether it be easily
identified natural sounds or mysterious sounds that are hard to
When I was kid, I was given a tape recorder, which I used to
collect all sorts of natural and unnatural sounds. I would play
back the sounds and ask people if they could identify the source.
Even as an aging adult, I enjoy listening to the sound of a flowing
stream, breaking waves or falling rain. I also like to listen to
bird calls, and I keep telling myself that I need to learn how to
identify more of them — but that’s another story.
For this blog, I would like to return again to this idea of
natural sound and share some websites where you can listen to your
heart’s content and sometimes shape the sound itself. Since this is
a blog about water, I’ve tended to focus on rain, streams, oceans
and such things, but these links can be just a starting point.
Soundsnap is a website
that boasts of having 200,000 sounds in its catalog, including
6,000 sounds of
nature. Included are 249 sounds of rain, 117 sounds of the
sea, 1,065 sounds
of water and
298 sounds of ice. These sounds can be
downloaded for a fee, but it costs nothing to explore Sound Snap’s
At the other end of the spectrum is a single 11-hour YouTube
video featuring the sound and images of ocean waves. I have not
listened to more than a few minutes of this video at a time, so I
don’t know what happens if you turn on this video to go to sleep
and then leave it on all night. But the sound coming from the video
is certainly more pleasant than the nightly sounds that some people
learn to tolerate. The video, embedded on this page, was posted by
which has several videos of a similar vein.
If you would like to download a sound to save it or use it in a
video project, Sound Bible is a
royalty-free site with a large collection of sounds. I downloaded
the files below from collections called “Sea Sounds” and “Water
Preservation is cheaper than restoration. If you need proof, one
place to look is the Beard’s Cove estuary-restoration project on
Hood Canal, about a mile outside of Belfair.
The project, nearing completion, is re-establishing 7.3 acres of
saltwater wetlands by excavating and removing about 4,000 dumptruck
loads of old fill dirt from an area originally built as a private
park for the Beard’s Cove community.
It is a rare restoration project, because essentially the same
dirt used to fill the wetlands in 1973 is being taken out and put
back where it came from — across North Shore Road from the
development. The cost is estimated at $1.1 million, as reported by
Arla Shephard in a story in the
Filling in the salt marsh was part of the development plan for
the Beard’s Cove plat, approved by the Mason County commissioners a
few years before construction began. The voter-approved Shoreline
Management Act and other environmental regulations were just coming
on the scene.
Hood Canal Environmental Council, a fledgling group at the time,
testified against the Beard’s Cove project. Phil Best, a young
lawyer who would later become Kitsap County commissioner, was a
founder of that organization.
“We were concerned that this project would set a precedent,”
Phil told me. “If you start filling in all these marsh areas, you
would be destroying a lot of salmon habitat throughout Hood
Although scientists today know much more about the value of
estuaries, Phil said there was plenty of evidence at the time about
the damage that would be caused by this kind of project. Much of
the scientific information was provided by researchers at the
University of Washington’s Big Beef Creek Research Station. That
facility, near Seabeck in Kitsap County, is still used for salmon
In the end, the Beard’s Cove developer prevailed with the county
commissioners and the courts, and the fill was dumped into the
estuary to create a park. Today, of course, a project like this
would not even get off the drawing board.
“We’re finally getting to where things should be,” Phil said,
“but it is unfortunate that we have to spend millions of taxpayer
dollars, when the permit for this should have been denied in the
first place. There is a lesson to be learned here: It is better to
err on the side of caution when it comes to environmental
For every restoration project we know about, someone could have
avoided the cost by not doing the damage in the first place. We
must recognize that we are paying for many mistakes made by our
At the same time, we must face the fact that — despite all we
have learned — we are still doing damage to the ecosystem. Some
damage is inevitable, as more development is needed to accommodate
a growing population. But we should be as careful as we can, so our
descendants don’t have to undo what we have done.
The alternative, of course, is far more dreadful. If we cannot
turn the tide on our ecological destruction and find a way to live
within the natural world, Puget Sound is doomed to ecological
collapse. Future generations might live on a large, sterile pond
and wonder what it once was like. They might as well live on the
The 540 or more families who live in the Beard’s Cove Community
today had nothing to do with the mistakes that were made. Who could
blame them for using the park and swimming pool developed for their
use? People who grew up in Beard’s Cove cherish the memories of
that park. I would suggest that it is of little value to blame
anyone for past mistakes, since society as a whole sanctioned all
sorts of activities that we would not allow today.
The Beard’s Cove community should be congratulated for breaking
with the past and allowing the restoration to take place. It may be
true that the decision was easier after the park fell into
disrepair. Someone apparently destroyed the old swimming pool by
draining it during an extreme high tide, causing it to “float” up
out of the ground — or so the story goes, says Louena “Louie”
Yelverton, president of the Beard’s Cove Community
Louie says the community supports the restoration of the marsh
and looks forward to seeing a more natural shoreline.
“it is nice to be part of a restoration project, realizing that
this is a small part of a 700-acre project that is going to help
salmon,” she said. “As a society, we are starting to learn that we
need to give forethought to the future. It might not affect us, but
it will be there for our grandkids and future generations. I am
glad to be part of this.”
Louie credits Kate Kuhlman of Great Peninsula Conservancy for
helping to generate goodwill in the community. Her concerns for the
people as well as the steadfast promotion of the science helped get
the project to construction. GPC coordinated the grants to get the
work done with some land left for community use.
“She has been a trooper through everything,” Louie said. “Now we
are going to have a park, and the shoreline is going to be good for
salmon. I am super-excited that we are toward the end of this and
will get to see what all the hard work has accomplished.”
Wetlands along the North Shore of Hood Canal have been
undergoing protection and restoration for 30 years. This is where I
chose to write the opening chapter of the book
“Hood Canal: Splendor at Risk.”
The Beard’s Cove project, including a permanent conservation
easement, fills in the final gap in a full 1.7 miles of unbroken
estuarine habitat to be preserved in perpetuity, thanks to GPC and
its North Mason predecessor, Hood Canal Land Trust, along with
Pacific Northwest Salmon Center, Washington Department of Fish and
Wildlife and the North Mason School District.
The project includes the construction of 2,530 feet of newly
formed tide channels, 1,200 feet of graveled beach and large woody
debris habitat structures.
Marsh areas like this are among the most productive places on
the planet, supporting a rich food web that includes salmon species
such as Puget Sound chinook, Puget Sound steelhead and Hood Canal
summer chum, all listed as “threatened” on the Endangered Species
It’s hard to describe the surprise I felt when I first glanced
at a new graph plotting bulkhead construction and removal along
Puget Sound’s shoreline since 2005.
On the graph was a blue line that showed how new bulkhead
construction had declined dramatically the past two years. But what
really caught my eye was a green line showing an increase in
bulkhead removal. Amazingly, these two lines had crossed each other
in 2014, meaning that the total length of bulkheads removed had
exceeded the total length of bulkheads built last year.
Not only was this the first time this has ever happened, it was
totally unexpected. Few people really believed that bulkhead
removal could exceed construction anytime soon. I was happy to
write up these new findings in the latest
newsletter for the Puget Sound Institute, where I’m now
“It was pretty shocking — in a good way,” said Randy Carman of
the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, who coordinated the
data based on state permits. “It makes me optimistic going
Randy helped develop the “vitals signs indicator” for shoreline
armoring, along with a “target” approved by the Puget Sound
Partnership. The target called for the total length of armoring
removed to exceed the total length constructed for the 10-year
period from 2011 through 2020.
Like many of the vital signs
indicators, this one for shoreline armoring was far from a sure
thing. In fact, like most of the indicators, the trend was going in
the wrong direction. Some people believed that the Puget Sound
Partnership was setting itself up for failure.
These were “aspirational” targets, Randy recalled, and meeting
them would be a tremendous challenge for many individuals,
government agencies and organizations.
As I described in some detail in the article for PSI, the number
of new bulkheads has declined, in part because of new government
rules. Meanwhile, the number of bulkheads removed has increased, in
part because of government funding.
But something else may be afoot, as pointed out by Sheida
Sahandy, executive director of the Puget Sound Partnership, and
David Price, habitat program manager for WDFW. A new “culture” may
be taking hold in which people realize that bulkheads are neither
good for the environment, attractive nor functional when it comes
to people enjoying their own beach.
When talking to shoreline property owners who have removed a
rock or concrete bulkhead, often the first thing they tell me is
how much nicer their beach has become. No more jumping or climbing
off a wall. No more rickety stairs. One can walk down a slope and
plop down a lawn chair wherever the tide tells you is the right
“The factors are all in place for a paradigm shift,” Sheida told
me. “When people see the geotech reports for their own beach, they
can see there is a different way. People can take off their shoes
and put their toes in the sand.”
Getting contractors and real-estate agents to understand and
support new methods of beach protection and restoration is one
strategy being considered. Personally, I was impressed with the
change in direction by Sealevel Bulkhead Builders. Check out the
story I wrote for the
Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal.
It takes a little land to create the right slope to dissipate
wave energy without any man-made structure. In some cases, large
rocks and logs — so-called “soft shore protection” — can help
reduce erosion. In some situations where land is limited and wave
energy is high, a solid wall may be the only remedy. No matter
which option is used, one must consider the initial cost and
long-term maintenance — including consideration of sea-level rise
caused by global warming.
“The secret,” said Dave Price, “is less about the strong arm of
regulation and more about helping people understanding what they
Scientific evidence about the damage of bulkheads has been
building for several years. Among the impacts:
Loss of beach and backshore, which reduces the area used for
recreation, shellfish, bird habitat and forage-fish spawning.
Loss of slow, natural erosion, which helps maintain the
quantity and quality of sand and gravel along the shoreline.
Alteration of wave action, which can impede natural movement of
sand and gravel and scour the beach of fine sediment, leaving
hardpan and scattered rocks.
Increased predation of juvenile salmon by larger fish where
high tides leave deep water along the bulkhead, plus fewer insects
for food caused by loss of shoreline vegetation.
Bulkheads can cause a coarsening of a beach over time, with
harder and harder substrate becoming evident. Damage from one
bulkhead may be slow and limited, experts say, but alterations to
more than 25 percent of the shoreline, as we see today, has taken a
serious toll in some parts of Puget Sound.
Dave told me about the time he stood next to a concrete bulkhead
and watched the tide coming in. Large fish, such as sculpins, were
able to swim right up to the wall.
“I stood there and watched these fish come right in next to
shore,” he said. “These were big fish, and they came up right next
to the bulkhead. There was nowhere for the juvenile salmonids to
get out of there.”
The cartoon below was part of this week’s “Amusing
Monday” feature, and it illustrates the situation that Dave
described. I could say much more about changing trends in
bulkheads, given new studies funded by the Environmental Protection
Agency, but that can wait for future blog posts.
These are the days of near-perfect growing conditions for plants
in Western Washington. If you are battling noxious weeds, it might
seem as if the weather is working against you, favoring these
destructive invaders along with other plants.
But one team of weed warriors, hoping to eradicate an invasive
plant called spartina, sees this growing season another way.
Instead of hindering the eradication effort, this rapid growth of
spartina — also known as cordgrass — makes it easier to locate and
eliminate the last of the invaders.
“The bad thing is you get a lot more plants than you expect,”
said Chad Phillips, spartina coordinator for the Washington State
Department of Agriculture. “The good thing is that a lot of the
plants you might not have seen (in a normal year) have germinated,
so you can get rid of them.”
Over the past 12 years, the total estimated acreage occupied by
spartina in Washington state has been reduced from 9,000 acres to
just eight acres. It has been a coordinated effort involving local,
state and federal agencies; tribal governments; universities;
private landowners; and many volunteers.
The search-and-destroy mission will continue, because the plants
have a way of coming back, sometimes showing up in new
Left unchecked, spartina spreads rapidly, crowding out native
vegetation while converting ecologically important mudflats into
meadows choked with a hardy marsh grass. Besides wrecking shellfish
beds, spartina wipes out shoreline habitat for shorebirds and
waterfowl while increasing the risk of flooding, experts say.
Those involved in the spartina effort this year are expected to
look for spartina plants — and eliminate any they find — over more
than 80,000 acres of saltwater estuaries and 1,000 miles of
shoreline in 12 counties.
After working for years in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor,
spartina crews turned their focus last year to Puget Sound, where
about 90 percent of the remaining spartina-infested acreage can be
found. The map on this page uses black triangles to depict areas
where spartina has been eradicated.
When crews go into an area, they remove all the plants they can
find. Individual plants or clusters of plants can be dug by hand,
whereas larger infestations may be treated with herbicide.
Crews typically return to a given site twice in a year. A site
is considered eradicated if no plants are seen for at least three
years with a minimum of six surveys. After that, they will
typically return once a year to make sure the plants don’t come
The crews are scheduled to visit every shoreline at least once
every five years to look for any new infestations of spartina.
The workers obtain permission from property owners before
removing or killing plants. But often the neighbors are unaware of
what they are doing. Chad said it is not unusual for neighbors to
approach crew members to ask why they are there. Sometimes, the
crews are suspected of being shellfish poachers.
“If you see us working, feel free to come over and say ‘hi,’”
Chad said. “We’ll be on a beach in knee boots with a shovel.”
In Kitsap County, the largest infestation has been at
Doe-Kag-Wats, an estuary on the Port Madison Indian Reservation
north of Indianola in North Kitsap. After years of removing
truckloads of vegetation, the total infestation there was down to
61 square feet last year.
Another infested area has been Foulweather Bluff near Hansville,
where 24 square feet of spartina were removed.
Areas considered active because of recent infestations but where
no plants were found last year are Manzanita Bay on Bainbridge
Island and Coon Bay near Manchester.
Mason and Thurston are the only counties that have never had an
infestation, but beaches in those counties remain part of the
ongoing five-year survey cycle.
In Puget Sound, most of the spartina found has been identified
as the species Spartina anglica, or common cordgrass. This
species was introduced to Snohomish County in 1961. The largest
infestation in the state today is an area in South Skagit Bay and
Port Susan near Stanwood.
Bays on the Pacific Ocean contain primarily Spartina
alterniflora, known as smooth cordgrass or saltmarsh
cordgrass. It was introduced to Willapa Bay in the late 1800s,
eventually spreading to 8,500 acres. Since 2003, about 99.9 percent
of that spartina acreage has been killed or removed, making it one
of the largest eradications of an invasive species anywhere in the
Spartina patens, known as saltmeadow cordgrass or salt
marsh hay, is a native of the Atlantic Coast. It was discovered in
the 1990s at Dosewallips State Park on Hood Canal. Dosewallips held
the only known infestation of S. patens in Washington
state until 2013, when a survey crew found the plant on Navy
property on the Toandos Peninsula across from the Bangor submarine
base. After receiving permission, the site was treated in 2014.
Ongoing efforts will be necessary, as the invasive plant blends in
well with native marsh plants.
After much success in cleaning up streams in Kitsap County,
pollution investigators for the Kitsap Public Health District plan
to turn their backs on most state and federal grants and reorganize
their approach to local waterways.
I’m talking about the folks who literally wrote the book on
pollution identification and correction, or PIC, a strategic
approach to tracking down bacterial contamination and eliminating
the sources. A 2012
“Protocol Manual” (PDF 10.6 mb) and a 2014
“guidance document” (PDF 4.3 mb) — both developed by Kitsap’s
pollution investigators — are now being used by local health
departments throughout the state.
That’s why I was surprised to hear that the health district
plans to change course for its pollution-cleanup program this fall
— especially the part about reducing reliance on state and federal
grants. For many Puget Sound jurisdictions, these grants provide
the major sources of funding, if not the only funding for their PIC
Kitsap County is fortunate to have a stormwater fee collected
from rural property owners. For single-family homeowners, the fee
will be $82 this year. The money goes into the Clean Water Kitsap
program, which funds a multitude of clean-water projects —
including street-sweeping, improving stormwater systems and
restoring natural drainage.
The fee also supports the health district’s ongoing monitoring
program, a monthly sampling of more than 50 Kitsap County streams,
along with lakes and marine waters. The program has successfully
reported improvements in various streams while providing
early-warning signs for water-quality problems. The program was
started in 1996.
None of that will change, according to Stuart Whitford,
supervisor for the health district’s PIC Program. While state and
federal grants have been helpful in tracking down pollution
problems, most of the major problems have been identified, he
“We know what we have, and the patient has been stabilized,” he
The problem with grants is that they require specific
performance measures, which must be carefully documented and
reported quarterly and in final reports.
“The administrative burden is heavy, and the state grants don’t
fully pay for the overhead,” Stuart said. “Looking out into the
future, we think state and federal grants will be reduced. We are
already seeing that in the Legislature. So we are going to wean
ourselves off the grants.”
Future efforts need to focus on identifying failing septic
systems and sources of animal waste before they become a serious
problem, Stuart told me. The process of doing that is firmly
established in local plans. Work will continue, however, on nagging
pollution problems that have not been resolved in some streams. And
he’s not ruling out applying for grants for specific projects, if
the need returns.
To increase efficiency in the ongoing program, health district
staff will be reorganized so that each investigator will focus on
one or more of the 10 watersheds in the county. In the process, the
staff has been cut by one person. The assignments are being made
now and will be fully implemented in the fall.
“The stream monitoring will remain the same,” Stuart said. “But
each person will be able to do more intensive monitoring in their
Having one investigator responsible for each watershed will
allow that person to become even more intimately acquainted with
the landscape and the water-quality issues unique to that area.
Because of the extensive problems in Sinclair Inlet, two people
will be assigned to that drainage area, which includes a good
portion of South Kitsap and West Bremerton.
Dave Garland, regional water-quality supervisor for the
Department of Ecology, said he, too, was surprised that the Kitsap
Public Health District wishes to avoid grants, but he is confident
that Stuart Whitford knows what he is doing.
“They are definitely leaders in the state and have been very
successful in their approach,” he said. “We wish more health
districts and surface water departments would be more like Kitsap.
They are improving as they go.”
Garland said Kitsap County officials have done more than anyone
to remove streams and waterways from the “impaired waters” list
that Ecology compiles. The list — also known as 303(d) under the
federal Clean Water Act — is part of Ecology’s
“Water Quality Assessment,” now being finalized for submission
to the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
In 2008, Kitsap County had 69 stream segments listed as
“impaired.” As a result of work over six years, now only 7 are
proposed for the upcoming list. Many streams were removed when they
came under state cleanup plans for Dyes and Sinclair inlets,
between Port Orchard and Silverdale, or in Liberty Bay near
Poulsbo. Those state plans identify cleanup efforts to reduce
pollution loading and bring the waters into conformance with state
water-quality standards. They are called TMDLs, short for total
maximum daily loads.
Because the Kitsap County PIC Program has been so successful,
Ecology has allowed the local program to substitute for TMDL
studies for many streams where stormwater outfalls are not an
issue. Under the Clean Water Act, the local program comes under
Category 4B (for local planning), as opposed to 4A (the state’s
“No one has done a more thorough job,” Dave said of Kitsap’s
effort. “It is very impressive to see that they have gone to TMDLs
or to 4B. That does not mean the waters are clean, but it means
they are under a plan.”
Of the remaining seven “impaired” water bodies, some should be
removed because of Kitsap’s cleanup plans, Stuart said. They
include Anderson Creek and Boyce Creek, which flow into Hood Canal,
and Murden Creek on Bainbridge Island, which is undergoing a
special study. Phinney Creek in Dyes Inlet is already part of a
TMDL, and an area in southern Hood Canal should not be on the list
because it meets water-quality standards, he said. Stuart hopes to
get those changes made before the list is submitted to EPA this
Currently, nothing is being done with regard to Eagle Harbor or
Ravine Creek, two “impaired” water bodies on Bainbridge Island. The
health district’s program does not extend to cities, although
Bainbridge could contract with the health district for monitoring
Eagle Harbor could become subject to a TMDL study by the
Department of Ecology, but it is not currently on the state’s
priority list. As a result, work is not likely to begin for at
least two years.
At Harper Estuary in South Kitsap, the question of “bridge or no
bridge?” has become, “How long should the bridge be to protect the
It’s a story I’ve been covering since 2001, when Harper resident
Chuck Hower first told me about an old brick factory that operated
in Harper during the early 1900s. He was dismayed by the massive
amount of fill dirt later brought in to build roads across what had
been a beautiful salt marsh. See
Kitsap Sun, Feb. 12, 2001.
Although state and federal agencies were convinced that
restoration of the estuary would be a wonderful thing for fish and
wildlife, funding proposals came and went until two years ago.
That’s when the Legislature decided that the Harper project should
receive $4.1 million. The money was from a $142-million settlement
with ASARCO related to pollution from company-owned smelters in
Tacoma and Everett. More than $8 million was earmarked for
environmental restoration. Check out this story,
Kitsap Sun, Jan. 14, 2014.
Once the money was approved, the project got rolling. Planners
had to decide how much of the fill material could be removed with
the available money and what to do with Olympiad Drive, built on an
earthen causeway across the upper portion of the estuary.
Biologists generally agreed that the best thing for the
ecosystem was to take out Olympiad Drive entirely, although that
would force area residents to take an alternate route on Nokomis
Road to Southworth Drive. The result would be only one road in and
out of the community east of the estuary, and that did not sit well
with folks in the area.
Local fire officials were not happy with that arrangement
either, according to Kathy Peters, salmon recovery coordinator for
Kitsap County. They said it would cut down response time to the
In addition, she said, county engineers determined that the
width of Nokomis Road would not meet design standards if the
majority of area traffic began using the road. Widening the road
would create other complications, such as buying right of way and
tearing down some buildings.
“For all these reasons, everyone agreed that we can’t abandon
the road,” Kathy told me.
What then resulted was a question of how long to make the
bridge. Often, a longer bridge means greater ecosystem integrity.
But there’s always the matter of cost.
What then ensued behind the scenes was a lot of haggling among
biologists, engineers and other county officials, as well
representatives of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
and the Suquamish Tribe. I’ve been hearing about these difficult
discussions for months.
Finally, a resolution came when Kitsap County’s new public works
director, Andy Nelson, suggested that the county proceed with
preliminary design studies, as it would for any bridge, but include
ecosystem restoration as a primary design criteria. Nobody could
find any reason not to go that way, Kathy said.
The county is now contracting for a consultant to do preliminary
design, which will include various options, how much they will cost
and how close they can come to a fully functioning natural
Meanwhile, WDFW is moving forward with its plans to restore the
estuary and get that project under construction. Much of the work
will involve removal of fill on both sides of Olympiad Drive and
along the shoreline to bring the estuary back to a semblance of
what it once was. A boat launch will be relocated.
A few other details, including the biological value of
estuaries, can be found in a fact sheet on the county’s
Harper Estuary website. Officials are pulling together
additional information in preparation for a public meeting April 6
from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at Colby United Methodist Church.
Community involvement in the project is important, according to
Kathy Peters, who wants people to enjoy the waterway and be able to
observe as a variety of plants and animals recolonize the
Removing the fill is expected to unearth a huge number of old
bricks, which were dumped into the estuary after the Harper Brick
and Tile Factory went out of business in the 1930s.
Jim Heytvelt, who lives near the estuary, said neighbors have
been discussing gathering up the bricks and forming them into some
kind of monument.
“We have a pretty tight community,” Jim said. “We have
neighborhoods on both the east and west sides of the estuary who
want to get involved.”
He said most everyone is excited about the restoration, which
has been a long time coming.
Big money is beginning to come together for planning,
engineering and design of major restoration projects along the
Skokomish River. If approved by Congress, the cost of construction
could exceed $40 million — a lot of money to you and me, but maybe
not so much for the Army Corps of Engineers.
Last week, the state’s Salmon Recovery Funding Board approved
grants for more than 100 projects in 29 counties throughout the
state. The total, from state and federal sources, was about $18
million for this round of funding.
Mason County was one of the big winners this time, receiving
$1.25 million for seven projects, including a $360,000 contribution
to planning and engineering for transformative projects on the
Skokomish. The total cost for a “35-percent level of design” is
expected to be $2.45 million, mostly from the Corps of Engineers.
That level of design is needed to give top officials in the Corps
and members of Congress a good idea of cost before they commit to
the massive undertaking along the Skok.
I’ll address the specific Skokomish River projects, along with
new information from the Corps, in a separate blog post to come.
For now, I’d like to describe other projects approved in the latest
round of SRF Board funding.
In addition to the design work on the Skokomish, the Mason
Conservation District will move ahead with the construction of 21
man-made logjams in the Holman Flats area along the South Fork of
the Skokomish. That is an area that was logged and cleared in
preparation for a dam that was never built.
The clearing destabilized the river and degraded salmon habitat
for more than a mile downstream. The logjams will add structure to
the river and create places for fish to hide and rest, ultimately
improving the channel itself. The $362,000 from the SRF Board will
be supplemented with another $900,000 in grants.
Beards Cove, $297,000: This project, outside of
Belfair on Hood Canal, will remove fill, structures and invasive
plants and restore the grade to the way it was before development
in 1973. The project will restore about a quarter-mile of natural
shoreline and seven acres of tidal marsh. Along with a separate
seven-acre land-preservation agreement and other efforts, about 1.7
miles of Hood Canal shoreline will be preserved forever. Great
Peninsula Conservancy will use a separate $491,000 grant from the
state’s Estuary and Salmon Restoration Program.
Allyn Shoreline, $14,000: Mason Conservation
District will complete final designs to enhance 480 feet of
shoreline along Case Inlet in Allyn, including removal of about 120
feet of bulkhead.
Likes Creek, $85,000: South Puget Sound Salmon
Enhancement Group will remove a culvert under the Simpson railroad
that blocks salmon migration on Likes Creek, a major tributary of
Goldsborough Creek. Another grant will provide $43,000 for the
project, and Mason County will assist with removal of another
Goldsborough Creek, $111,000: Capitol Land
Trust will buy 420 acres on the North Fork of Goldsborough Creek
near Shelton. The property provides habitat for endangered salmon
and steelhead. The land trust will contribute $20,000 in donated
Oakland Bay, $24,000: Capitol Land Trust will
use the money to remove invasive and dead vegetation and maintain
12 acres of shoreline plantings on Deer, Cranberry and Malaney
creeks. About $5,000 in donations will be added.
Three projects were funded in Kitsap County:
Springbrook Creek, $62,000: Bainbridge Island
Land Trust will assess the creek’s watershed and design five
salmon-habitat projects for one of the island’s most productive
streams. The land trust will contribute $11,000 in donations of
Curley Creek, $33,000: Great Peninsula
Conservancy will assess how to protect salmon habitat in Curley
Creek in South Kitsap, one of the largest salmon and steelhead
streams in the area. The conservancy will contribute $6,000 in
donations of labor.
Steelhead assessment, $50,000: Kitsap County
will analyze existing information on steelhead habitat in the East
Kitsap region, south to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, to help with a
recovery plan for the threatened fish. The county will contribute
Other notable projects include the following in King,
Snohomish, Thurston and Whatcom counties:
Mill Creek, $327,000: The city of Kent will
built a floodplain wetland off Mill Creek near the confluence with
the Green River, an important stream for chinook salmon and
steelhead as well as coho, chum and pink salmon and cutthroat
trout. The project includes the construction of 1,000 feet of new
off-channel habitat, where salmon can find refuge and food during
floods, and 43 log structures. Work also will restore seven acres
of native vegetation. A local grant will provide $1.4 million.
Stillaguamish River floodplain, $402,000: The
Stillaguamish Tribe will purchase 200 acres on the North Fork and
main stem of the river, remove invasive plants and restore about 25
acres of riverbank with native vegetation.
Black River wetland, $90,000: Capitol Land
Trust Grant will buy 54 acres to conserve a rare wetland unique to
the Black River and protect 1.3 miles of side channel. The property
is adjacent to 75 acres already protected by the land trust in the
Black River Sub-basin, one of the largest remaining wetland systems
in Western Washington.
Nooksack River logjams: The Nooksack Tribe will
receive $320,000 for logjams in the South Fork Nooksack and
$283,000 for the North Fork Nooksack. Eight logjams in each stream
will slow the river and provide resting pools for salmon. Federal
grants will add $56,000 in the South Fork and $60,000 in the North
In announcing the $18 million in salmon-restoration grants
statewide, Gov. Jay Inslee commented:
“Salmon are important to Washington because they support
thousands of jobs in Washington — fishing, seafood-processing, boat
sales and repair, tourism, and more. When we restore land and water
for salmon, we also are helping our communities. We get less
flooding, cleaner water and better beaches. We also make sure that
our grandchildren will be able to catch a fish or enjoy watching
the return of wild salmon.”
Funding for the grants comes from the sale of state bonds
approved by the Legislature along with the Pacific Coastal Salmon
Recovery Fund, approved by Congress and administered by the
National Marine Fisheries Service.
David Trout, who chairs the SRF Board, said the restoration
projects are a lifeline for salmon:
“Without these grants that fund incredible projects, we wouldn’t
have any salmon. That’s unacceptable. We’ve seen these grants make
a difference. They create jobs, support local communities and their
involvement in salmon recovery, and most importantly the projects
are helping bring back the fish.
“After more than a decade of work, we’ve seen that in many areas
of the state, salmon populations are increasing or staying the
same. At the same time, we still have some important areas where
fish populations are continuing to decline. We can’t get
discouraged and must continue working at this. It’s too important
to stop now.”
I’ll never forget my visit this past summer to the Lofall dock
and nearby beach on Hood Canal in North Kitsap. It was a scene of
devastation, in which starfish of all sizes were losing their limbs
and decomposing into gooey masses.
My guides on the excursion were three women who had been
watching for changes in sea stars as part of a volunteer monitoring
program being conducted up and down the West Coast. The three were
shocked at what they saw on the trip, as I described in a story for
Kitsap Sun as well as in a blog post in
Many questions remain about the mysterious affliction known as
“sea star wasting syndrome.” For one, why were the sea stars
affected over such a wide area, all at about the same time?
As described in the report, the researchers went to museums with
sea stars preserved in alcohol and found that the virus was present
in specimens collected as long ago as 1942 at various West Coast
sites. Minor outbreaks of the wasting syndrome have been reported
through the years, but obviously something much bigger is taking
A change in the environment, such as ocean acidification, has
been suggested as one possibility. A change in the virus, such as
we see for the flu virus in humans, is another idea. It could also
be related to an over-population among the sea stars
Jeff Adams of Washington Sea Grant, who is leading the local
monitoring program in Kitsap County, said it is good that
researchers have found something to go on, but other causative
factors are yet to be discovered.
“Why and where; those are two of the things still on the table,”
Jeff told me. “What are the environmental factors that drove this
much larger die-off? Was it something that made the virus more
prevalent or something that made the sea stars weaker?”
Jeff noted that the cause of death may not be the virus itself
but rather opportunistic pathogens that attack the sea stars after
their immune systems are weakened by the virus.
“Density may have played a factor,” he said. “Sea star
populations have been thick and strong over the past 12 years. When
you get a lot of individuals in close proximity, you can get sudden
changes. Marine populations fluctuate quite a bit naturally.”
Jeff hopes to maintain the volunteer monitoring program for
years to come, not just to track the disease but to understand more
about the cycles of marine life. Of course, he would like to be
able to report on an ongoing recovery of sea star populations from
their current state of devastation. Will the recovery occur in
patches or uniformly at all monitored sites?
“Ideally, this will run its course, and we will start seeing
juveniles showing up over the course of the summer,” he said. “How
many of them will disappear?
“Ideally, we will be able to maintain some sites for much
longer. For me, as a naturalist, there are lots of questions about
natural historical cycles that have not been addressed. A lot of
critters are facing challenges (to their survival).”
In Puget Sound, these challenges range from loss of habitat to
pollution to climate change, and the predator-prey balance will
determine whether any population —and ultimately entire species —
Linda Martin, one of the volunteers who gave me a tour of the
Lofall beach, said she was glad that researchers have identified a
viral cause of the sea-star devastation, but it remains unclear how
that is going to help the population recover.
Because of the timing of low tide, the three women have not been
to Lofall since early October, when the population was “completely
depleted,” according to Linda. But they are planning to go back
“We are anxious to go out and see if there is anything there,”
she said. “We have not seen any juveniles for a long time.
Originally, when we started out, we were seeing uncountable numbers
As for the new findings, I thought it was interesting how the
researchers removed tissues from diseased sea stars then filtered
out everything down to the size of viruses. After that, they
exposed one group of healthy sea stars to a raw sample of the fluid
and another group to a heat-treated sample. The raw sample caused
disease, but the heat-treated sample did not.
They then used DNA techniques to identify the virus, which was
found in larger and larger concentrations as the disease
progressed. Check out the research report in the
Proceedings of the NAS (PDF 1.1 mb).
Jeff Barnard of the
Associated Press interviewed researchers involved in the study
and others familiar with the problem.
I’ve always heard that downtown Seattle and its waterfront area
were built on a massive amount of fill, but I never knew how
massive until I viewed the video on this page.
According to the researchers involved, Seattle is “one of the
most dramatically re-engineered cities in the United States.”
The video was completed two years ago, but I had not heard of it
until I read a recent blog post by archeologist Peter Lape,
researcher Amir Sheikh, and artist Don Fels, who together make up
the Waterlines Project. The three have collaborated to study the
history of Seattle by focusing on how the shorelines changed over
time. As they state in the
blog post for the Burke Museum:
“For more than ten years, we’ve worked as an informal group,
known as the Waterlines Project, to examine Seattle’s past
landscapes. Drawing from data gathered by geologists,
archaeologists, historians and other storytellers, we are literally
unearthing and imagining our collective pasts…
“What have we found? Among other things, Seattle is one of the
most dramatically re-engineered cities in the United States. From
the dozen or so settlers who founded it on Coast Salish land in
1851 to its current status as America’s fastest growing city,
hardly a decade has gone by without its residents taking on some
major ‘improvement’ projects affecting its shorelines.”
The maps and photos
collected during the Waterlines Project will take you back to
another time. Thanks to photographer Asahel Curtis, much of the
history of our region has been preserved for us to see. Some of his
notable photographs on the waterfront theme:
UPDATE, Oct. 4
Orca Network reported a brief appearance of J pod this week near
San Juan Island: “On Wednesday, October 1, J pod plus L87 Onyx
and a few K pod members shuffled in small groups spread out up and
down the west side of San Juan Island for over eight hours, then
returned around midnight and continued vocalizing near the Lime
Kiln hydrophones for another few hours.”
As chum salmon swim back to their home streams in Puget Sound
this fall, three killer whale pods — the Southern Residents — can
be expected to follow, making their way south along the eastern
shoreline of the Kitsap Peninsula.
These forays into Central and South Puget Sound could begin any
day now and continue until the chum runs decline in November or
December. The Southern Residents, which typically hang out in the
San Juan Islands in summer, have not been spotted for several days,
so they are likely somewhere in the ocean at the moment, according
to Howard Garrett of Orca Network.
This year, Orca Network has created a map of good viewing sites
to help people look for whales from shore. As the orcas move south
into Puget Sound, Orca Network’s
Facebook page becomes abuzz with killer whale
sightings. Observers can use the information to search for the
whales from shore.
From my experience, it takes a bit of luck to find the orcas,
because they are constantly moving. But the search can be fun if
you consider it an adventure and don’t get too disappointed if you
don’t find the whales right away.
Howie said expanding the network to include more land-based
observers can help researchers track whale movements and
occasionally go out to pick up samples of their fecal material or
food left over from their foraging, helpful in expanding our
knowledge about what they are eating.
Whale reports may be called in to Orca Network’s toll-free
number: (866)-ORCANET, emailed to email@example.com, or posted
on Facebook, www.facebook.com/OrcaNetwork.
The new Viewpoints Map shows locations where killer
whales have been sighted in the past, or else they lie along a
known route of their travels.
I told Howie about a few good viewing locations in Kitsap
County, based on my experiences, and he said he would welcome ideas
from others as well.
“It’s a work in progress,” Howie said. “They just need to be
locations that are public and accessible.” If you know of a good
whale-watching spot, you can contact Howie or his wife Susan Berta
by email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
If offering a location for the map, please give a clear
description of the site and state whether you have seen whales from
that location or just believe it would work based on the view of
Some people have expressed concern that real-time reports of
whale movements may encourage boaters to go out and follow the
orcas in Puget Sound, disturbing their feeding behavior at a
critical time of year. But Howie says Orca Network has increased
its reporting through the years and has not heard of many
“It seems like a potential problem that never really happens,”
Winter weather and rougher seas makes it difficult to find the
whales from the water, Howie noted. As in summer, boaters are
required by federal regulation to avoid interfering with their
travels. See the “Be
Whale Wise” website.
When reporting whale sightings to Orca Network, observers are
asked to list the species, location, time, direction of travel and
approximate number of animals. When reporting killer whales, the
number of adult males with towering dorsal fins should be noted.
Also report any behaviors, such as breaching, spy-hopping or
feeding. Good photographs are especially valuable.
Sighting reports can be found on the Orca Network
page or Twitter
feed. One can also sign up for email alerts from the website, which
includes reports of recent sightings as well as archives going back
to 2001. The site also tracks news and research developments.
As Howard stated in a news release:
“We are very fortunate to live in a place where we can look out
from nearby shorelines and see those majestic black fins parting
the waters. We are thankful for the hundreds of citizens who report
sightings each year, providing valuable data to help in recovery
efforts for the endangered Southern Resident orcas.”