Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Driving along U.S. 101, most folks have seen this view up Sequim Bay. This is where the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe is based and in the last few years they have provided some great places to enjoy the scenery. This view, from the tribal center, looks out over Blyn Spit. For years, I have been able to judge the higher tides as I drove past simply by noting how much of the spit was submerged.
This spit, shaped by northerly winds and waves on the southeastern side of the bay, is typical of small spits in relatively low energy areas (see previous post from Maynard's Lagoon on Discovery Bay). The lack of strong winds and wave run-up prevents the berm from growing as high as in more exposed locations. The lack of coarse gravel and perhaps, the lack of large wood (which tends to blow north and often doesn't build up as much as on these north-facing spits), may also contribute to the lower berm.
In this picture, taken at roughly Mean Higher High Water (MHHW), the spit has almost, but not quite overtopped. Many high tides wash over this feature, which probably doesn't rise more than 1-2 feet above MHHW, explaining why salicornia (pickleweed) dominates the berm ridge, not beach grass and other higher elevation backshore plants.
Someday, I'll head out to Travis Spit, a few miles north at the mouth of the bay, and post some comparison shots to show what a higher energy spit looks like. For one thing, the berm is considerably higher and only very rarely would be completely submerged.
The old railroad followed the edge of Discovery Bay, cutting across the salt marsh at the head of the inlet and isolating some small estuarine lagoons (maybe just one, originally) along the southwestern side of the bay. The old mill (Maynard's, I guess) sat along the railroad, perched on what was probably the original spit. A mill pond was created behind the mill at one end of the lagoon.
The mill had pretty much dismantled itself, but the remnants remained until NOSC (see below) went to work this fall and removed the old structures and much of the old fill. They dropped the elevations to more closely match the geometry of the old spits and they replumbed the small stream mouth and the estuaries.
This is a fairly sheltered site since it's tough to generate big waves in this corner of Discovery Bay, but there will still be enough energy to gradually rearrange the beach. But the bigger story will probably be the riparian vegetation and the fringing marsh.
Walking the beach last Tuesday, there were a few pieces of the old timber structures, and the shape of the shoreline still mimics some of the historic fill, but in a few years, the human history will be almost entirely erased. (The photos were all taken the same day - the foggy one in the morning, the others on the way home).
For more about this project, and about the North Olympic Salmon Coalition, check out:
Lower Discovery Bay Estuary Restoration