Saturday, August 05, 2006

Point Roberts

Lighthouse Park is at the southwest tip of Point Roberts, that little orphaned piece of the USA that hangs down below Vancouver. The high ground of Point Roberts and neighboring Tsawwassen was once an island, until subsumed by the growing Fraser Delta.

The west side of Point Roberts is one of the few places in the Salish Sea where humans may have managed to alter the direction of net longshore drift (there may be another smaller example northeast of the Hood Canal bridge). We can block it or reduce it, but it took the Canadians to actually reverse it. Prior to the causeways to the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal and the Roberts Bank Delta Port, net shore drift was probably to the south, driven by the extended fetch from the north, but the causeways may provide some shelter, increasing the relative importance of southerly winds and waves. This is all pretty speculative, but makes an interesting story.

Lighthouse Park has a difficult erosion history, probably complicated by changes to wave and sediment patterns and the unfortunate location of the old lighthouse building. Seems like everything would be easier if the structure could be removed (the navigation beacon could remain) and the beach allowed to do its own thing (but then I always say that).

This visit was pleasant, but didn't match my first visit, when a kid's concert was going on at one of the shelters and a pod of Orcas headed past just offshore.

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