Up the Beach — Chanterelles, earth shaking, shifting sands and coast cleanup hands


Fall hasn’t officially arrived, but change has come to the beach. One thing that hasn’t arrived yet is mushrooms. Now, that should tell us something about just how dry the woods became this summer, not withstanding the recent paltry rainfalls along the coast.

How in the heck can one do without a mess of Chanterelles sautéed up in butter with Walla Walla Sweets? Especially since clam digging hasn’t yet begun.

Gear up for beach trash pick up

According to Dan Ayers, WDFW coastal biologist, the Washington CoastSavers announced that registration is now open for participating in the International Coastal Cleanup, Sept. 21. Volunteers can select from dozens of beaches to clean from Cape Disappointment to Cape Flattery.

Washington State Parks and the Pacific Northwest 4 Wheel Drive Association have been organizing beach cleanups on the third weekend of April since 1971, but this is the first time CoastSavers is joining the effort. The organization is an alliance of committed representatives from public agencies, private organizations and passionate individuals who have joined together to ensure the ocean beaches of Washington State are regularly cleaned.

Founding members of CoastSavers include representatives from the Lions Club International, Discover Your Northwest, Grass Roots Garbage Gang, Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, Olympic National Park, and the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, with support from the Ocean Conservancy.

For more information, go to: www.coastsavers.org where you will find information about how to register, what beaches will be cleaned, where to camp and other helpful trip planning ideas. You can also donate funds to help pay for Dumpster costs (approximately $1,000 to rent and dispose of the trash once it’s filled.)

The Japanese government estimated that the tsunami swept about 5 million tons of debris into the ocean, but that 70 percent sank off shore, leaving 1.5 million tons floating. It is difficult to link much of the debris on our shores to the Japan tsunami, but that makes it no less important to remove.

Whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on

In other offshore news, the June 13 tsunami-like waves that hit the East Coast of the U.S. are still under review with no definite conclusions reached. The source is complex, but data collected from 30 tide gauges and one Dart buoy show evidence of strong atmospheric pressure fluctuations generated by meteorological causes.

Three people on a Barnegat Inlet jetty in New Jersey were swept off the rocks five to six feet above sea level at the time. The event was recorded at tidal gauges monitored by the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center.

A magnitude 7.0 earthquake hit the Aleutian Islands Aug. 30 with aftershocks of 4.6 magnitude. The Alaska Earthquake Information Center said the primary quake was centered 67 miles southwest of Adak.

Can you outrun va tsunami?

The latest edition of the TsuInfo Alert from the Washington Geological Library at the Department of Natural Resources, displayed maps of Ocean Shores and Aberdeen showing pedestrian travel times to high ground. Assuming a travel speed of 1.1 m/s, tsunamis associated with a Cascadian subduction zone earthquake are predicted to arrive in the towns within 25 minutes after the earthquake is generated.

The issue also de-myths outrunning a tsunami, “Maybe the fastest man in the world could run a six-minute mile for six miles …but most people couldn’t,” is the report.

Coasties key

Last week’s rescue by the lifeboat crew from the Westport Coast Guard station of the fisherman off the FV Jackpot reminds the beachers how important the Coasties are to the beach communities. The crewman was knocked unconscious when a block came apart and struck his head.

Another crewman performed CPR and the man was able to breathe on his own but remained unconscious. The Westport station launched its 47-foot Motor Life Boat and USCG Sector Columbia River dispatched a helicopter from Astoria to airlift the crewman to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland.

Geotube “show” coastal erosion reminder

Golleee! The beach’s “hot dog” geotube has made a re-appearance at the North Jetty. This cyclic erosion beach hot spot had been growing since the jetty was built in the 1900s but again has recently begun to erode. Guess it’s time to dig out the excellent 1996 study report by Brian Voight of Washington State Department of Ecology and the U.S. Geological Survey to re-learn the basics of a viable solution.

The Southwest Washington Coastal Erosion Study investigated coastal change and processes. Private companies picked up its work as the basis for their work along the southwest beaches in Ocean Shores and at Shoalwater in Willapa Bay.

Erosion along Washington’s southwest coast is affected by a number of things: Jetties whose influence over accretion and erosion patterns for distances of 12 miles and more; dams on the Columbia river that have reduced sediment supply by two thirds; accretion rates that have slowed dramatically while erosion rates have increased; wave action from El Nino impacts that bring higher sea levels, intense storms and large earthquakes in the past that have caused the coast to sink three to six feet.

International fish stock talk

What the heck, coastal erosion is a problem talking about is not going to change, so perhaps fishing changes are more fun to yak about over a coffee cup.

For the first time since ratification of the Columbia River Treaty with Canada in 1964, management of the river’s water is up for negotiation on both sides of the border. If the runs of salmon (coho and Chinook), burbot (a cod-like freshwater fish), steelhead and sturgeon are revived, it would be for the first time since they vanished 70 years ago after Grand Coulee dam was completed in 1942.

Restoration would include building fish ladders at Grand Coulee and Chief Joseph Dams. The B.C. Ministry of Energy, the Bonneville Power Administration and the US Army Corps of Engineers are currently conducting a review of the Treaty.

Pinks fishing picks up

One fish change is all the talk about Pinks. Locally known as “humpies” or “humpbacks”, Pinks are so called due to the large hump male salmon develop during spawning. These smallest of the fall salmon (3-5 lbs., up to 12 lbs.) arrive in runs during odd-numbered years. Humpies use the mainstems of the Humptulips and Chehalis Rivers and appear in some of the smaller Harbor rivers. They like to spawn as close to saltwater as possible as the fry begin moving directly to the Pacific Ocean after emerging.

“Pink salmon fishing is starting to pick up in the rivers as we move into September,” said Ryan Lothrop, Puget Sound recreational salmon manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “Freshwater fishing opportunities for pink salmon should be good early in the month.”

In Marine Area 10, anglers must release hatchery Chinook starting in September, and must release chum salmon through Sept. 15. Those fishing Marine Area 9 must release chum through Sept. 30.

This small salmon specie isn’t as high on local fishers list as steelhead and Chinook, but Pinks are a good fish for marinating and, boy howdy, they are swarming into northern B.C. with a catch exceeding 100 million pinks.

The summer sockeye runs on the Fraser River are being affected from high water temps with return levels less than half of the predicted numbers. Runs in the Skeena are the lowest in half a century with a first-time outright fishing ban on both the retention and use of gill nets by First Nations.

The chipping of teeth by sports fishermen over Native fishing is pretty much the same as it has been on the Columbia River gillnet issue. Sport anglers claim natives are wasting pinks in their efforts to catch more sockeye. The Ottawa federal fisheries department has been monitoring the fishery through boat, aerial surveillance and at catch landing sites. All reports indicate the majority of the pink bycatch are being safely released back into the ocean.

The best advice on late summer fishing probably comes from Mark Twain. “There is no use walking five miles to fish when you can depend on being just as unsuccessful near home.”

Kvayak to ghost forest

The recent Washington Parks Department Centennial Celebration has sparked a great interest in canoeing and kayaking up the Copalis River to see the ghost forest. Persons interested in such an adventure can call Kelly Calhoun at the Museum of the North Beach at Moclips and find out the latest skinny. If you are going to indulge in the trips, make sure you are prepared for mud — No slip-on shoes, flip flops, etc. And, leave the L.L Bean apparel at home. Dress like a real beacher or you will be sorry!

Dressing like a beacher is pretty easy for clam diggers, beach stompers and mushroom hunters. So, regardless of all the changes around just go for it, whatever your “it” is, because fall changes are coming.

Gene Woodwick may be contacted at genewoodwick@coastaccess.com.