Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Bowman Bay

The landslide at Cama Beach, combined with the realities of work and home, meant that that this post and the next have been stuck in my drafts folder for over two weeks. These two posts are from two pocket beaches on Fidalgo Island, just northwest of Deception Pass. Although both beaches tell many stories, these entries focus on recent efforts to deal with erosion control.

At the north end of Bowman Bay, the beach lies at the base of a gradual slope, but at the south end, it forms a barrier with a wetland behind it.  The wetland used to be larger, but historic development led to filling of the central portion of this area.  It appears that this fill was placed out across the backshore, which maximized upland real estate (for the state fish hatchery that used to occupy the site), but created a shoreline subject to erosion where a stable beach may have existed before.

For decades, the resulting bank had eroded, despite efforts to armor it with riprap and old concrete.  This erosion was a very real problem, but one likely attributable to the placement of the historic fill.  If there were homes or a railroad or a nuclear power plant built on edge, perhaps the only viable option would be to further armor the bank.  But here, what is threatened is a narrow strip of a large poorly drained lawn.  Not to trivialize the task, but pulling back the waterward edge of the fill might simply eliminate the erosion problem while creating a natural and much more enjoyable beach.

This recent effort to address the erosion focused on improving the ragged armor that was previously on the site.  It's an engineering fix focused on the integrity of the rock structure, not the underlying cause of the erosion nor, unfortunately, the recreational potential of the beach.  Technically, the solution may be fine.  It was probably less expensive and bureaucratically simpler than other options.  But it's also a missed opportunity (but not a lost one).

The north end of the beach, up near the old CCC shelters and the campground, offers a wonderful template for the eventual future of this central segment. 


Just to show that blogging naturalists can visit the same site, yet find completely different things to marvel at, you might check out Wild Fidalgo:  The Robins of Bowman Bay (also posted today).  Check out Dave's other blog,  Fidalgo Island Crossings, too.

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