Up the Beach — July is all about the beach

July is all about the beach. Kids digging holes in the sand, teens flying kites and hanging out of car windows, old folks in lawn chairs taking in some sun, and all kinds of people doing everything between.

Wildfire Protection Plan

July always conjures up thoughts about beach fires with the attendant awareness that embers blowing in from the sea breeze can quickly get out of hand. For the beachers who live near beaches, the City of Ocean Shores Community Wildfire Protection Plan prepared last July is full of interesting reading.

One citizen, with an almost 10-year concern regarding wayward fires, is Gene Seeley of Ocean Shores. He is developing a model fire protection area on his property to help educate folks about protecting themselves and their assets. Wind, predominately from the west and southwest, along with dry summer weather patterns, increases the potential of runaway fires.

Wildfire attack truck

Up the beach, the folks who invented their own vehicle to reach dune fires were the recipients of a modern wildfire fighting truck as a gift from the state Department of Natural Resources, who deserve an “Atta Boy” for problem solving and caring about rural folks.

The Ocean Shores Community Wildfire Protection Plan is available at both the city library and city hall.

Rare fishers found

Speaking of critters — It is pretty exciting news that Ocean Shores is the southernmost point that a fisher has been found. The weasel-like animals related to minks, otters and martens are native to the forests of Washington state, including those of the Peninsula. They became extinct on the Peninsula about 70 years ago because of over-hunting and trapping.

The two fisher brothers, who were 10-weeks-old when biologists rescued them in mid-June last year, were later released into Olympic National Park near Hurricane Ridge. They were raised at Northwest Trek wildlife park in Tacoma until they could hunt and be on their own. The boys are two of the 70 transplanted fishers still surviving.

The fishers’ mother was pregnant when she was moved from British Columbia to Olympic National Park in a reintroduction effort that has brought 90 fishers into the park from Canada to re-establish the species on the North Olympic Peninsula.

Park and state biologists track the animals with radio signals from collars placed on them. Fishers were listed as a state-endangered species in 1998 by the state Fish and Wildlife Commission and were designated as a candidate for federal listing in 2004 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under the Endangered Species Act. State and federal recovery efforts began in early 2008 with the reintroduction of fishers from British Columbia to the park.

If they move up into the Humptulips River banks one can only hope they do not chase Gary Hulet from his fishing hole like a big, mad mother mink did in recent times.

Salmon trucked to spawning grounds

In salmon news—how can you think about the Hump without thinking salmon—the Pacific Ocean salmon migration routes are of concern to local fishers. In the drought-stricken area of California, salmon are not swimming rivers but are riding in tanker trucks due to depleted rivers and streams from the central valleys to Mare Island north of San Francisco. Recently trucks unloaded 750,000 smolts to be pulled by the tide into the ocean. Two other hatcheries have transported 8.5 million smolts to the ocean.

The concern is not just producing king salmon for fishers and seafood lovers but skipping the river migration means the fish won’t know how to swim to their home spawning grounds in three years. Every scale of a salmon has imprinted information on home waters to guide fish to spawning grounds.

Salmon opener slow

Locally the ocean salmon season opened June 14 with the take of .45 Chinook per trip per person; at LaPush it was .10 and at Neah Bay .20, with many salmon running around 20 pounds, according to Capt. Ron Malast. The spring Chinook run on the Columbia ended with 243,000 returning, more than twice the previous year’s return.

Yellow cedar protection?

Protection of an Alaskan tree by four conservation groups may have an effect on the North Beach forests. The U.S. Department of the Interior has been petitioned to list yellow cedar as threatened or endangered because of climate change. Elevated mortality of the species peaked in the 1970s and 1980s in Alaska where more than 70 percent of yellow cedar trees had died in a 781 square mile on land on the panhandle.

The local sub-alpine forests contain some yellow cedar, also known by its Latin name Chamaecyparis nootkatensis. Oddly enough, the tree is not really a cedar, but actually a cypress of the Cupressaceae family with a tangled taxonomy and history.

Even though it is not a cedar, it is also sometimes confusingly called Nootka Cedar, Yellow Cedar, Alaska Cedar or Alaska Yellow Cedar. The Latin “nootkatensis” is derived from its discovery on the lands of the Nootka people on Vancouver Island.

The tree was used for eons by Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian folks for everything from canoe paddles and totem poles to clothing, blankets and hats. The people could remove a long strip of bark from live trees to weave into basketry and clothing because the species heal themselves.

While the yellow cedar is nearly impervious to insects and rot, it has shallow roots that can easily freeze and kill the tree, thus the vulnerability to climate warming.

Cormorant eradication plans

In the bird world, the Army Corps of Engineers plans to eradicate about 16,000 double-crested cormorants on the East Sand Island in the Columbia River. The rascally, salmon-gorging birds have resisted all other forms of non-lethal removal efforts. Since 2011, this colony is estimated to have eaten an average of 18.5 million juvenile salmon per year.

Add those birds and their consumption to the Caspian terns that left Damon Point for Sand Island in recent years and you can see why fishers and even some environmentalists think some type of birth control is in order while others say it is crude and cruel.

For more information visit www.nwp.usace.army.mil/Missions/Currentprojects/Cormorant EIS.aspx

Tsunami news &notes

The amazing influx of squid eggs and Velella Velella all along the North and South Beaches sure has the sand pounders out looking for glass balls and tsunami debris.

Visitors are astounded and intrigued by the huge debris display at the Museum of the North Beach in Moclips and in the beachcombing room at the Coastal Interpretive Center, which leads to the latest tsunami news from TsuInfo Alert from the DNR.

Of interest is the use of tree species for effective coastal bioshields. Bioshields range from pristine ecosystems to plantations of various types in tsunami-prone areas. Catastrophic cyclones and devastating tsunamis in the last decade have prompted bioshield plantings, but the effectiveness of such programs is not established.

A new book, “The Next Tsunami: Living on a Restless Coast,” written by Bonnie Henderson is out. Basing scientific information around the Seaside, Ore., tsunami havoc of 1964, the book includes studies from the past 20 years that show massive tsunamis strike the Pacific coast every few hundred years, not triggered by distant quakes but by huge quakes less than 100 miles off the Northwest Coast.

A synopsis of the book is available from Oregon State University Press at http://osupress.oregonstate.edu/book/next-tsunami

So, as you can see, there is a lot to think about in July while sitting around beach fires, playing in the sand or dozing in the sun.


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