Tacoma Shoreline Survey, Day 1

Where we’re at now

August 6, 2014 Comments (2) journal

Finishing up

The first two days of the Tacoma Shoreline Survey are in the books; one more to go. I’ve made a couple observations so far that are worth noting: First of all, there is a significant amount of Tacoma’s shoreline that has been hardened with bulkheads and riprap, essentially creating a barrier between the aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems and changing the nature of the beaches entirely. The difference between the natural coastline below Point Defiance and the artificial armored shores along Ruston Way and below the railroad tracks in the Narrows is easy to see. There are very few, if any, shorebirds along these sections, and the beaches below the bulkheads are often a mixture of mud and stone without anything green to be found.

The sand and gravel beaches near the point, on the other hand, are teeming with life. Kingfisher and heron, eagles in the sky and seals in the water, vibrant underbrush in every shade of green running right down to the high tide line and acorn barnacles and mussels everywhere in the shallows.

The second observation is that the amount of debris I’ve been finding has been fairly small. I expected this along the sections I’ve done so far, as there have been several large beach cleanups in the past two weeks and most of what had collected on shore has already been removed. I’ve completed four surveys to this point and I’ll do a couple more today before I’m done with this phase of the project. I’ve been pleased at the relative cleanliness of the beaches I’ve come to so far and I’m already looking forward to doing them again after the rains come.

2 Responses to Finishing up

  1. Reed says:

    Armored or hardened shoreline continues to grow in Puget Sound, even with much-heralded recent efforts to improve salmon habitat. See http://www.psp.wa.gov/vitalsigns/shoreline_armoring.php and click on ‘Is there progress? Indicators and targets’

  2. Liam says:

    Glad Reed provided a reference. Also, WDNR’s ShoreZone and probably county records will have maps of where shoreline is hardened. It might be good to have these in hand to groundtruth. ShoreZone should be accurate as it was created with low-altitude observations from a plane, but completed a decade or so ago (I’m not sure when).

    The survey-cleanup issue has a significant impact on the data. Ideally, you would know the last cleanup that occurred at a location, so you’d know how many days of debris deposits the survey covered.

    Good work Ken!