Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Boyce Creek

This place has several names, but it's basically where Boyce Creek enters Hood Canal. On the maps it is labeled Frenchman's Cove, but the new Kitsap County Reserve is called Guillemot Cove.

This is one of those rare stream mouths that is still in good shape and provides some clues for restoring other streams in the area. The stream valley was originally graded to a lower sea level, but was subsequently flooded by rising water and now forms a nice example of a barrier estuary, with a tidal wetland sheltered behind an asymmetric pair of barrier spits. The shape and orientation (and relative volume of longshore drift) of this shoreline means that the spit on the south is better developed, whereas the spit on the north is little more than a bulge of gravel and sand.

At very high tides, both fluvial and coastal sediment may wind up being deposited on the marsh surface, but the sink for most of the sediment is the broad intertidal delta. These features, which are common on the Sound, are somewhat a blend of deltas and alluvial fans. Probably depends on what the tide is. During today's -3.8? foot tide, it was clearly more of the latter.

Hood Canal

The uppermost beaches are gravel, the mid-tide beach is almost entirely oysters (big, non-native ones, as I understand) and barnacle encrusted cobbles, and the lower beach is a sandy, with eelgrass covering the lowest intertidal.

These thick intertidal oyster beds are pretty common on Hood Canal. If these aren't natives, I wonder what the beaches looked like, or behaved like, prior to their arrival.

South of Frenchman's Cove

We weren't sure what to call this place, since the stream apparently has no name, but for the last couple of years, it has been owned by the public and efforts are underway to remove 120 years of buildings and fill and unnaturally straight stream channel. Putting it back the way it was is a bit tricky, as we don't know exactly what it looked like in 1850, nor are there many good reference sites to use as a template.

Stream mouths were among the first features of the landscape to get turned into logging camps, shingle mills, and homesteads, and few, even in remotest Hood Canal, look much like they once did.
The streams were straightened, and often put in pipes. Frequently they were pushed to one side of their small valleys. The small estuarine wetlands that may have been common at their mouths were filled in and walls built to hold the fill in place. Small spits were buried or simply vanished when the stream mouth was channeled. And of course, the watersheds were logged and relogged and at least in some places, turned into cities.

Hopefully, I can come back in a year or two and take some pictures of the new stream channel, the brackish wetland, and the rehabilitated spits.


A late spring low tide on Puget Sound - if you don't dry out waiting for the sea level to rise again, you will surely be trampled by the curious urban horde. Or carried away in a plastic bag or a 5-gallon bucket. This was a family excursion to Seahurst on a beautiful Memorial Day during a -3.8' tide. The broad sandy terrace puts the narrow gravel foreshores in perspective. I was impressed by the broad bar offshore of the northern section of the park - covered in eelgrass, which was in turn covered in ulva.

As is always the case - high tide or low - the stream mouth was filled with small anadramous children.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Alderbrook, as best as I can surmise, is built on fill pushed out over the original stream delta. The stream is now funneled down a narrow corridor between the main lodge and the cabins - must have been sort of cool to watch back in early December, 2007, when all the streams around here blew out (
Hood Canal - 2008). I wonder what guests would make of a big tree or a section of SR106 rafting past their window. A nice neat concrete bulkhead keeps the lawn out of Hood Canal, or Hood Canal off of the lawn - no confusing, fuzzy line between land and water here!

For three days last week, some of the top regional and national experts on beaches and the impacts of seawalls and bulkheads gathered here to share their geologic and biologic observations and to help us local folks better figure out what to do about a topic that doesn't lend itself to simple understanding or solutions.

There are a few more pictures from last week at hshipman, plus one I posted shortly after starting the blog way back in December, 2005.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Cama Beach

I left Seattle early to beat the northbound traffic mess through Everett, which gave me a little time to wander down to Cama Beach before my evening talk on sea level at Camano Center.

The stream at the south end is
flowing through a gap in the storm berm and reportedly has been doing so most of the winter. Some years this stream gets plugged up and just leaks through the gravel, while other years it will burst out during a big rainstorm. I suppose its ability to stay open may relate to frequent high flows, or it may just be because there hasn't been enough wave action this winter to rebuild the berm.

I like the way the shell collects in the channel. This is not uncommon to see in small stream outlets - especially where shell is abundant and can readily be transported and trapped in the low area. Maybe its the same story with the tire.

Utsalady Point

Utsalady Point is (was?) a recurved spit at the north end of Camano Island, the beneficiary of any sand and gravel that manages to wind its way north along the west side of the island without getting waylaid in the middle. There likely would have been a tidal wetland inside the spit, perhaps with an outlet near the current boat ramp.

The site has a long
history of lumber mills, boat building, and tourist camps. It's sort of unfortunate that like so many of these small beach communities, the shoreline is now marked by an awfully generic line of big homes that look awfully like generic lines of big homes on spits everywhere else on the Sound.