Thursday, March 10, 2011

Olympic View

By all rights, there should be no beach here at all. This was once mud flats on the delta of the Puyallup River, but progress filled the marshes and the flats, bringing dry land as close to deep water as earth-moving economics would allow. This shoreline was marked by wharves and industry - and much of it still is. But the shoreline faces into the major fetch, raising the possibility of stable beaches, and as old piles and rubble have been removed, and as sand and gravel has been brought in to cap contaminated sediment, beaches are appearing.

This site is complicated - most sites are. A small pocket lagoon has been created in order to restore marsh and intertidal habitat, something rare in Commencement Bay. But the tide must come and go through an opening that the newly formed beach wants to bridge with a berm. Storms drive the gravel up the profile, building the small spit higher and pushing it into the mouth of the inlet, where it might potentially raise the sill elevation of the lagoon. One could engineer a "stable" configuration, but maybe it's better to let the tides and the waves sort this out themselves.

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