Up the Beach — Spring has sprung and the flowers are flung


All this recent sunshine is enough to make the local curmudgeons go hide in their closets until it rains again.

Meantime, the rest of the beachers are going nuts — wearing shorts, exclaiming over wildflowers in bloom, going for drives, walking the beach like a bunch of tourists and even smiling at the deer in our yards.

One is torn between getting exercise or hoping the fairy godmother flies by to drop off old, old Alaska magazines, 1920-1960 Popular Mechanics and a stack of old Outdoor Life, so that one could sit in the sun, forget about work and just loll around looking at the wonderful stories in such magical gifts. Heck, one would even settle for a big stack of old local newspapers.

But, as Mark Twain once said, “There are several good protections against temptation but the surest is cowardice.” So, that eliminates this particular fantasy.

Flowers are flung

May is the month for wild flower displays. Driving long the North Beach roads, the clouds of Mountain ash, Snow-On-the-Mountain and various wild fruit trees are just bursting with blossoms.

Closer to the ground are the brilliant yellow of skunk cabbage in the wetland pools, especially near the 109 Humptulips bridge. Buttercups are casting pools of light in ditches. And, the yellow flag iris filling swales everywhere are a sheer delight—the beachers can’t help it if they don’t feel these lovely blossoms are an invasive specie.

If you watch, you just might see Sandy Mitchell walking along Ocean Shore’s streets to see if her favored Rabbits-Foot clover is showing off its beautiful pink flower heads.

In some areas of the dunes, the Flowering spurge has come out early and is waving its little clusters of white flowers. For the fishers in the family, the walk along the river finds the dainty Solomon’s seal is waving its yellow-green flowers.

Blooms abound at Mima Mounds

It is a good week to pack up a lunch, fill up the coffee thermos, grab the camera and head for one of the state’s premier flower preserves, the Mima Mounds DNR Natural Area Preserve where pools of blue Camus take the breath away in this geologically curious area near Rochester.

The blue and lavender lupine is lovely and right now, even some of the daisies are showing off. Early morning just might be the time to see an endangered Fender’s blue butterfly dipping and coasting above the blossoms.

On the way back home, those who take the drive are sure to gawk at that fancy red car at the Polson Museum and buy a couple raffle tickets. It’s time for a local to win this fundraiser.

Coast Guard clippings

Area Coasties are pretty proud that the Weather channel will be spending a year documenting the work of the US Coast Guard along Washington’s coast. The show, “Coast Guard Northwest,” is a 13-week series of maritime adventures.

The Coast Guard has been caught in a flap over the economic decision to remove buoys from the smaller bays along the coast. Folks at Bay Center and fishers from the North Beach area are not too happy about that cost-cutting measure. The Coast Guard has proposed to permanently disable the buoys marking Bay Center channel in Willapa Bay. So far the issue remains unsolved.

For those planning to spend some of these sunny days on the beach the Discovery Pass can be purchased for the three local state parks at Ocean City State Park. For the price of three movie tickets you can explore the parks, lie on the beach, hunt for agates and even bring your own popcorn and candy.

Thinking of the Ocean State Park brings to mind Gary Hulet. He probably hasn’t camped on the beach since he was a teenager and had the great experience of fleeing from the Alaska earthquake tsunami.

Of, course hearing the story from Hulet is much better than anything that could be read in the newspaper.

Cascadia quake concerns

A new report released by the Oregon Seismic Safety Policy Advisory Commission, a group of more than 150 volunteer experts, discusses the probable results of a Cascadia Subduction Zone quake offshore.

The report says a mega quake like the 1700 subduction of the area could happen at any time. The report says that geologically, Oregon and Japan are mirror images of what would happen on our coast. British Columbia is somewhat protected by Vancouver Island and the Puget Sound area by the Olympic Peninsula.

Ronald Clowes, a crustal seismologist connected to the University of British Columbia, said more than 10,000 people could die when—not if—a monster earthquake and tsunami occurred off coast.

The state Department of Natural Resources Library publication, TsuInfo Alert reported a new Facebook site, Project Safe Haven, a grassroots community-driven process along the coast, identified areas for vertical evacuation structures. For more information visit www.facebook.com/ProjectSafeHaven

Tsunami debris sightings

The beachcombers are reporting high numbers of temple slippers are arriving on all the local beaches and a greater number of plastics than usual are being seen. Wooden gods — from Buddas to fishing boat figures — also are being spotted.

So far no boat pieces have been reported like the Japanese boat cabin that came to rest on Sand Island in the Columbia River.

Previously, crab fisherman Kevin Soule and his crew spotted the debris of a 10’ x 12’ metal structure that looked like a cabin off a boat several miles offshore south of the Columbia River. At the time the current was running south.

Scientists at Oregon State University who have examined 36 pieces of debris from the Japanese 20111 tsunami say the potential damage from invasive species may not be known for years. Among the critters and other species found on debris are algae, starfish, mussels, barnacles, etc. that are found only in Asia.

NOAA modeling suggests that another peak of debris will arrive on the West Coast between now and June with favorable wind and currents driving floating objects ashore.

Dumpees’ debris

Speaking of debris, since the garbage dumps have been closed, piles of debris are flourishing along the highways and roads. Most people’s comments about the classification and intelligence level of the ‘dumpees’ cannot be printed in a family-friendly newspaper.

Particularly scathing comments are those directed to the debris piles of construction materials. The only comment that can be printed is the pronoun “cheap” applied to various colorful epitaphs.

However, kudos do go out to the various DOT crews washing bridges and spring-cleaning roads along the North Beach. And more of the same to the QIN road crews sprucing up the Moclips Highway cutoff.

Public timber sales positive

While the flatlanders new to or visiting in the area don’t understand the local forests are crops, beachers are glad to see Grays Harbor County public timber auctions brought in 27 percent more revenue than expected. Timber tracts are the area’s banks, investment accounts, and tax revenue sources.

Local sales included 545,000 board feet of timber for $239,394 from the Little Hoquiam No. 1 sale and 2,278 million board feet for $951,390 for the West Fork Andrews Creek No. 1 sale. This timber had been valued at $614,336.

The Barlow Creek No. 4 sale brought in $375,659 from timber valued at $318,755 for its 905,000 board feet.

Schools will split almost $1.2 million. The benefactors from the sale of timber this year also include the Road Fund - $624,481; Tax Title Fund managed by the county Forestry Division - more than $1.1 million; Port of Grays Harbor - $132,292; Timberland Regional Library - $146,965; and Emergency Medial Service - $26,329.

Two more timber sales are set for June on the Quinault Indian Reservation for the Globug Unit that contains 178 acres and for 36 acres of mixed timber on the Harlan Unit.

Big-time backyard biomass

Speaking of trees, when taking visitors up to Lake Quinault to eyeball that big spruce, you can proudly point out that the rainforests in the Quinault, Queets and Hoh valleys support the most concentrated biomass on earth. Each acre contains 500 tons of growing plants and trees per acre.

Of course, this is helped along by the 140 to 167 inches of rain per year.

So, if flowers aren’t your things, just head on up the beach and admire all that green stuff and the big trees. And, be sure to go early enough in the morning to ‘camera-capture’ the early elk calves.

School funding funk

Most beachers have little sympathy for state legislators and urban counties moaning over lack of school funds following the McCleary decision on full funding for schools.

The beachers all too well remember when King County and other urban areas were successful in pilfering the school timber funds from rural timber producing areas to further fund urban school systems. Until then, timber areas’ school systems were able to keep pace with the urban taxing districts to provide good schools for their children.

The beachers have fond memories of their own school years at Moclips High School and are saddened to see the current lack of libraries, foreign languages, and vocational classes for their children and grandchildren since the timber funds disappeared.

Gene Woodwick is available at genewoodwick@coastaccess.com or (360) 289-2805.