Thursday, January 19, 2017

Birch Bay

The north end of Birch Bay was once a marked by a large complex of spits and marshes. Drift was eastward into the bay, carrying sediment from Birch Point to form a series of spits that terminated in an inlet at the northern corner of the bay. The spits and marshes probably recorded a wonderful chronology of sea level change, geologic events, and early first nations occupation.


In the late 1960s, it all became Birch Bay Village. The wetlands were dredged to create lakes and a marina. The sediment was used to create dry land for homes and golf. A new inlet to the new marina was cut at the base of the spit and the old inlet was left to drain a very small remnant of the original marsh. Drift rapidly built a broad fillet against the west jetty and the downdrift beaches were starved of their natural source of material (though sediment dredged from the inlet is now periodically bypassed to those beaches). Wolf Bauer and Maury Schwartz both used Birch Bay Village as an example of what not to do to beaches.

These pictures were taken at the inlet and near the west end, where the bluff ends and the spit begins. They show the beach west of the inlet, the jetties, the seawalls east of the inlet, and a remarkably large rock buttress on the first bluff property to the west.

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