Terrell Dam and RSI

 Birch Bay Issues, Environment  Comments Off on Terrell Dam and RSI
Nov 152012

Three thousand tons of fill carried in by 80 dump trucks reconfigured Terrell Dam in a cooperative effort among the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association, the Conservation District and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Rachel Vasak, executive director of N-SEA and Frank Corey of the Conservation District explained the project to the group signing up for a tour on October 20.

Tour group listening to Rachel Vasak (2nd from right) and Frank Corey (right)
explain the Terrell Dam Project

Water flow in the creek will be sufficient for the survival of  fry hatched from the remote site incubator (RSI) installed near the new bridge downstream from the dam.

New bridge and RSI almost visible below the left end.

Eggs from native Chum will be placed in the RSI soon and will hatch sometime in February or March. Volunteers monitor the site to report any interruption to the water flow that would threaten the well-being of those babies. The Chum species of salmon is best suited to this creek envirnoment because they spend the least time in fresh water on their journey to a salt water habitate.

Guided Tour of Lake Terrell Dam Modification

 Environment  Comments Off on Guided Tour of Lake Terrell Dam Modification
Oct 142012
Tour the newly renovated Lake Terrell Dam between 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 20, 2012.
New bypass modification

Dam before renovation

Join the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Whatcom Conservation District, the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association, and the Chums of Terrell Creek to see the modifications. These were created to restore fish passage for salmon and to better control flows of Terrell Creek all summer.
Trickle of Terrell Creek during construction

The creek’s lethargy this fall was due to temporary blockage of the flow during the work around the dam, which was originally constructed in 1950 to enlarge the lake and create more recreational opportunities.

New culvert with gravel and debris

RSVPs are essential to Terrell Creek Watershed Steward Rachel Vasak for arranging the scheduled half-hour departures: 715-0283, Ext. 108 or 739-1440 or rvasak@n-sea.org .

Harvest Dinner

 Environment, Food  Comments Off on Harvest Dinner
Oct 062012

Take equal portions of fantastic food, great drinks, delightful company, glorious weather, hot blue-grass music and sensational location, stir slightly and serve. You’ll have a winning recipe for the 10th Annual Harvest Dinner.

The Fourth Corner Slow Food Chapter organized the event at Bellewood Acres with support from and proceeds going to four local organizations. The Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association, of which the Chums of Terrell Creek are a subset, received a share of those proceeds, along with the Exploration Academy, Sustainable Connections and the Common Threads Farm.  
Bellewood Acres has another connection with the Chums of Terrell Creek. The tree planting and give-away on Birch Bay Drive sprung from contact with Dorie Belisle, co-owner and marketing whiz of Bellewood, who was managing the Farmers Growing Trees for Salmon project when we called her about getting free trees for the Terrell Creek bank side of the lot we had just purchased. She regretfully reported that all the trees advertised were gone, but wondered if we would be interested in planting some more for future give-away. 
Not having a clue about tree-planting and wondering if this small lot could possibly accommodate sufficient trees to be worthwhile, we invited her to come out and assess the site. She came, she saw and she opined that we could plant 1000 plugs in this little space. We did that for two cycels (two years each), until the program ended.
The spread at the Bellewood Acres Harvest Dinner site was abundant and varied.  

As were the participants.
The Gallus Brothers backed the natural setting with blue-grass selections all evening.
And a great time was had by all.
Hope to see you at next year’s Harvest Dinner.

Can Persuasion Prevent Legal Action?

 Birch Bay Issues, Environment  Comments Off on Can Persuasion Prevent Legal Action?
Apr 232012
At the last Wednesday meeting of the BBWARM advisory board, sitting as a Shellfish Protection District, George Boggs, executive director of the Whatcom Conservation District, and Rachael Vasak presented their plan to improve water quality in Terrell Creek and Birch Bay.
Ms. Vasak, who is popular in the community as Executive Director of NSEA, the Nooksak Salmon Enhancement Association, has been interviewing landowners in the Terrell Lake basin and other areas of possible pollution of Terrell Creek and found that most don’t have concern for clams in the bay and don’t think leaking septic systems or their animal waste is important. So she and Boggs are forming an advisory committee to identify 30 owners for persuasion with modest monetary incentive. They cite Nancy Lee, as their guide. She is the principal of Social Marketing Services, Inc., based on Mercer Island, has been “Influencing Behaviors for Good” since 1993.
Meanwhile ReSources for Sustainable Communities is petitioning the state Department of Ecology to include Birch Bay (and Blaine) in national stormwater regulations that would put enforceable restraints on polluters. BBWARM relies on voluntary compliance. Doggie bags are available at key points but if a dog poops on the beach the owner might get yielled at by clam diggers, but no sheriff’s citation.
Ms. Lee’s website (www.socialmarketing service.com) has a long list of persuasion accomplishments including Storm water Runoff, EPA and Seattle Public Utilities; Natural Yard Care, King County Department of Natural Resources and Seattle Public Utilities; Leaking Toilets, Seattle Public Utilities; Proper Disposal of Grease and Cooking Oils, City of Victoria, B.C. But she’s not fervent, noting that a law was necessary to stop texting while driving when persuasion failed. 
Boggs and Vasak have grants totalling a million dollars. Don Monfort, BBWARM’s math whiz and chief cynic, noted that is $33,000 per persuasion tartet. Ms. Lee counters that if a significant number of those 30 change their ways, others will be persuaded. How do you compute that?


Popular Rain Barrel Workshops Offered Again this Year–For Free

 Birch Bay Issues, Environment  Comments Off on Popular Rain Barrel Workshops Offered Again this Year–For Free
Apr 182012

Saturday April 28, 9:30 – 11:30
Tuesday May 22,
6:00 – 8:00
Attendees get a free rain barrel – a $100 value.

Necessary hardware and other accessories cost less than $30 at Pacific Building Center. After your first barrel is set up you are offered a second free barrel with a connector.

This program was conceived, and is presented, by Ingrid Enschede, Whatcom County Public Works key person who supports BBWARM, the Birch Bay Watershed and Aquadic Resources management District, and Emily Resch, of the Birch Bay Water and Sewer District. The two organizations have matching objectives: BBWARM to limit pollution from storm runoff; the BBWSD, which has the lowest rates in the county, to limit water consumption.

“When people see how quickly a 55-gallon fills up during a rain storm they will recognize how impervious surfaces, such as roof tops and paved driveways, increase runoffs,” explains Resch.
We have two rain barrels at our cottage. (One came with a new spout system. As an incentive, we were offered free dinners; we asked for a second barrel instead.) When we fill our sprinkling can with water from a barrel we take pleasure in not buying water for the garden – “we’re conservationists!”


Not so Much About Hurting Wallets…

 Birch Bay Issues, Environment  Comments Off on Not so Much About Hurting Wallets…
Apr 172012

… as about protection for business and home values in Birch Bay and improvement of water quality.

The petition to place legal controls on stormwater runoff by RE Sources for Sustainable Communities must be considered thoughtfully. What will be the economic results be if the Bay continues to be polluted;will recreational visitors and potential home buyers stop coming?

The petition to include Birch Bay and Blaine in the Western Washington Municipal Storm Water Permit, was produced by Lee First, prevention specialist, and Wendy Steffensen, lead scientist, of RE Sources. Here are excerpts:

“Birch Bay has also experienced shellfish growing area closures due to degraded water quality in Terrell Creek, the primary freshwater discharge to the bay. In 2003 the DOH [Washington State Department of Health] identified Birch Bay as a “threatened” shellfish growing area due to water quality degradation. In 1994, DOH noted the elevated bacteria levels in Terrell Creek as a potential threat to the shellfish growing areas adjacent to the mouth of the creek (DOH 1994). There is also 1 [sic] Category 2 (waters of concern) listing for fecal coliform, with additional listings proposed for fecal coliform and dissolved oxygen for the 2010 assessment. Again, it is likely that these parameters are associated with stormwater.

“Terrell Creek, which drains to Birch Bay, experiences low summer and fall flows, fish passage problems, and degraded instream and riparian habitat. Fish populations are declining in Terrell Creek. Poor water quality and low flows in the lower portion of Terrell Creek have been considered potential causes or contributors to fish kills in 2002 and 2007. The Terrell Creek water Quality Monitoring Report 2004-2009 concluded that temperature, DO [Dissolved Oxygent], and Fecal Coliform in Terrell Creek did not meet the WA State water quality standards for this freshwater creek (NSEA 2010).

“In response to the water quality issues, Whatcom County has established a shellfish protection district in Birch Bay. Ongoing monitoring by Whatcom County has shown that the majority of sites do not meet the standard for primary contact recreation and noticeable improvement has not occurred. (Whatcom County Public Works, 2010-2011)

“The Birch Bay UGA has the Birch Bay Watershed and Aquatic Resources Management (BBWARM) District, which is managed by Whatcom County Public Works. It is a self-taxing district that was established in 2007 to manage stormwater and address citizen concerns about water quality problems, flooding, and loss of aquatic habitat in the Birch Bay Watershed. The mission of BBWARM is as follows: To promote actions that reduce the impacts of stormwater runoff by decreasing the threat of flooding to private and public property and by improving and protecting water quality, aquatic habitat, and the quality of life that a healthy watershed provides. Despite the proactive efforts by this group and by Whatcom County staff, water resources in this area would be afforded more protections if the area was included under the municipal permit.“

BBWARM is a voluntary program. Some of the elements of the BBWARM program are similar to the requirements of the Permit. The requirements of the Permit are much more extensive. Some of the differences between what BBWARM accomplishes and what is required of permittees include, but are not limited to the following:
– The permit requires more extensive education and outreach,
– The permit requires an ongoing program to map, identify, detect, prevent, and track illicit connections,
– There are more stringent requirements for controlling runoff from new development, redevelopment, and construction than for BBWARM, and – Maintenance requirements, tracking, and reporting inspection of stormwater facilitities is more extensive for permittees than for BBWARM.”

Will the Whatcom County Council, which established BBWARM, agree?


2011 Holiday Season–Birth of a New Tradition

 Birch Bay Issues, Environment, Food  Comments Off on 2011 Holiday Season–Birth of a New Tradition
Nov 112011

We don’t know where this originated, but Sandy Brewer of Blaine Community Theater forwarded it us and we whole-heartedly endorse the concept. Despite the frequent references to Christmas, it does apply to the entire holiday season.

As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods–merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American labor. This year will be different. This year Americans will give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans. There is no longer an excuse that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands. Yes there is!

It’s time to think outside the box, people. Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper?

Everyone–yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates from your local American hair salon or barber?

Gym membership? It’s appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.

Who wouldn’t appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, American owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.

Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plonking down the Benjamins on a Chinese made flat-screen? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course.

There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants–all offering gift certificates. And, if your intended isn’t the fancy eatery sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint. Remember, folks this
isn’t about big National chains–this is about supporting your home town Americans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.

How many people couldn’t use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy?

Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day.

My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some young guy who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.

OK, you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes.

Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip. And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theatre.

Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.

Honestly, people, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese lights for the house? When you buy a five dollar string of lights, about fifty cents stays in the community. If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip.

You see, Christmas is no longer about draining American pockets so that China can build another glittering city. Christmas is now about caring about US, encouraging American small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. And, when we care about other Americans, we care about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn’t imagine.

THIS is the new American Christmas tradition.

Forward this to everyone on your mailing list–post it to discussion groups — throw up a post on Craigslist in the Rants and Raves section in your city–send it to the editor of your local paper and radio stations, and TV news departments. This is a revolution of caring about each other, and isn’t that what Christmas is about?

Sandy ended by saying “…and I would add to the list such things as theater tickets, locally produced movies or CD’s and music by local groups as well. Been in a film lately? Send a copy of it to a friend as a gift.”

Right here in Birch Bay we have restaurants and coffee shops, a yarn and gift shop, a thrift and consignment store and other businesses working hard to stay open. Just outside Birch Bay, a creamery sells delicious cheeses, a dog and cat center offers day-care, and other restaurants and businesses seek your support.

Shop local and build Birch Bay, Whatcom County, Washington State and America.


We Went Whale Watching

 Environment, Travel  Comments Off on We Went Whale Watching
Sep 022011

Ruth’s work with volunteers atthe Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce Visitors’ Information Center earned us a certificate for a whale watching tour that we used last week. The San Juan Cruises boat is the one that previously made daily trips from the Fairhaven Cruise Terminal to Victoria, B.C. and back. When we took that trip a couple of years ago, we saw some whales on the homeward leg. This time we got to see two pods of resident Orcas.

It took two and a half hours to get to our destination, off the northern tip of San Juan Island. Captain Grant broke up the time by describing the history and features of the islands we passed. Abundant coffee, tea, soda, beer, wine and snacks kept everyone happy. When we found the whales, the captain identified the members of Pod K and L, giving their names, relationships, and ages. Some are very old; some were born this year.

Getting good pictures was difficult. One reason is that the whales are not publicity seekers. They make no effort to help picture-takers by coming to the surface consistently at the same points. Another reason is they don’t stay up long enough for photographers to focus.

Outside the cabin on a narrow walkway, we found a vantage point with a railing against which we were able to hold our cameras somewhat steady. We considered ourselves lucky to get this picture even though the focus is not sharp.

These tours are important business. There were three other tour boats in the area, a few fishing boats and several individual recreational ones. Captains of fishing boats radio to other boats – including tour boats – the location of the pods. Adult whales eat about 250 pounds of salmon per day and fishermen follow the whales to find the salmon.

After about 90 minutes of looking for and watching the whales, we had a two-hour break in Friday Harbor, which was crowded with tourists.

Meanwhile, the hard-working crew – one young man and two young women – were preparing food for the trip back. Being small eaters on a diet, we chose only salmon and salad. Others piled their plates high with rolls, rice, chicken and salmon. (What prompts people to select chicken rather than salmon?) Dessert, including brownies and cheesecake, came later.

We decided this was one of the best days we’ve had since moving here eight years ago. Well worth the $89 other people paid.

San Juan Cruises, Fairhaven Cruise Terminal. 1-800-443-4552

Whale watching trips are available daily until after Labor Day, then Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until September 25, 2011. The season starts again in mid-May 2012.


ak & rah


Cherry Point Coal Terminal

 Environment, Politics  Comments Off on Cherry Point Coal Terminal
Aug 122011
Answers about the proposed coal terminal at Cherry Point7 – 9 p.m., August 16

Birch Bay Bible Community Church

7039 Jackson Road, Birch Bay

There are a lot of questions about the controversial proposal to build North America’s largest coal terminal next to the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve. Come to the Coal Hard Truth forum to get answers about the project proposal, its potential impacts on hum and ecological health, and how coal consumption impacts us all.

Learn more about: The terminal proposal itself — Coal dust from the terminal — Health impacts from 18 more trains a day — Where we are in the regulatory process — Regional and international perspectives — What you can do

Sponsors: Sierra Club, RE Sources, and Climate Solutions


The Coal Hard Truth Forum

 Environment  Comments Off on The Coal Hard Truth Forum
Aug 122011

Answers about the proposed coal terminal at Cherry Point

7 – 9 p.m., August 16

Birch Bay Bible Community Church

7039 Jackson Road, Birch Bay

There are a lot of questions about the controversial proposal to build North America’s largest coal terminal next to the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve. Come to the Coal Hard Truth forum to get answers about the project proposal, its potential impacts on hum and ecological health, and how coal consumption impacts us all.

Learn more about: The terminal proposal itself — Coal dust from the terminal — Health impacts from 18 more trains a day — Where we are in the regulatory process — Regional and international perspectives — What you can do

Sponsors: Sierra Club, RE Sources, and Climate Solutions