Thursday, July 18, 2013

Cornet Bay

Last fall, WA State Parks, the NW Straits Foundation, the Island County Marine Resources Committee, and others collaborated to pull out the old creosoted timber bulkhead at Cornet Bay and restore a more natural beach.

When it was first built, I was concerned that the temporary erosion protection extended too low on the beach (see October 2012 post below), but ultimately the high tides of December (including the record one on the 17th) sorted out those details.  It did mean that there was some scrambling this spring to clean up a lot of the mulch that ended up accumulating on the lower beach.

Cornet Bay:  October 2012 Cornet Bay:  March 2008

The high tides were good, in that they helped clarify the upper edge of the new beach. It will take a while for the sediment and the logs to settle into more comfortable positions, but the basic concept is great and I'm looking forward to seeing this place in a few years.

There are some interesting details that bear watching. A lot of large wood has stacked up against the west side of the piers and may require some active management.The small drainage outfall in the middle of the eastern segment may lead to some local erosion of the upper beach and the formation of a small delta on the lower beach.  Invasive plants will try very hard to invade the backshore, testing the persistence of volunteer groups.

Ironically, I suspect the hard parts of the project will fare the poorest. Gravity, and probably children, are already causing a shift of the small rock down the beach.  The rounded cobbles are ahead, but the angular quarry spalls will follow. As the small rock and the beach itself shifts, the logs may be undermined, putting more wear on their metal hardware. The rocky areas around the anchored wood will probably attract the most aggressive of the weeds and will be hard to maintain (and remain hard to walk across).

But again, these are details.  Compare these shots to the ones from before the project.  And then compare them to the ones in a couple of years when the beach and the vegetation have become better established.  In 2004, a bunch of us stood on the old bulkhead and wondered what might be done -- this is better than we could have imagined!

Google Maps:  AERIAL VIEW
Ecology Coastal Atlas:  2006 Aerial Photo

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