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.

Political Activism

 Politics  Comments Off on Political Activism
Oct 302012
If you’ve been reading the COMING UP calender of the Northern Light or your neighborhood utility pole, you know that we’ve been promoting progressive people for office–see this post.

First Congressional District candidate Suzan DelBene, with one of the event organizers, Ruth Higgins, thanks residents for their interest in her campaign, October 28, 2012 at Via Birch Bay Cafe and Bistro. Photo by Al Krause

In earlier times, the leaders of our community organized forums where voters could see and hear opposing candidates present their views.
If you’re still looking for information on the 42nddistrict state legislature candidates, John Stark at the Bellingham Herald wrote two excellent articles comparing Natalie McClendon (October 21) and Matt Krogh (October 22) with their competitors. You can find these articles on the Herald’s site. Go to the search window to the right at the top of their online masthead.

Suzan DelBene–A Remarkably Pleasant Experience

 Birch Bay Issues, Politics  Comments Off on Suzan DelBene–A Remarkably Pleasant Experience
Oct 302012
As publicized, three of the Birch Bay Democrat PCO’s, Sunny Brown, Pat Jerns and Ruth Higgins, organized a “meet and greet” for Suzan DelBene, the First Congressional District candidate, Sunday, the 28th.
My tasks were to register participants at the door of Via Birch Bay Cafe and Bistro, and to keep free a parking space for the candidate’s vehicle. In addition to one space I had two-thirds of another where a motor cycle was parked. That made enough room for a limo, but what if she had a retinue with two or three cars?
Shortly after one o’clock Sunny and I were startled to look up and see the candidate walking to the door with one assistant. Smiling, more relaxed than most participants.
I waited ’till one thirty to go upstairs to find Ms. DelBene still talking with small groups of people a stranger might assume were old friends.
Campaigners are coached to tell “your story” that will gain emotional appeal from voters. If you know anything about Suzan DelBene, it is that she is rich. That she held management positions with Microsoft and a couple of successful tech start-ups; that her husband is a division president at MSFT and they live in a multimillion dollar house on Lake Washington.
So here’s DelBene’s story: When she was in high school her father, an airline pilot lost his job, and the family moved around as he sought work. She got through college on scholarships, grants and work-study programs. In her first year out of school she was able to take her family into her home. She knows what it’s like for people are suffering now. Here she is in a simple black sweater and slacks that she might have bought at Target. Empathy!
And it gets better when she asks for questions. To a long list she spontaneously renders the progressive’s perfect answers. Asked about the proposed coal pier and more coal trains–“the question that is asked most up this way”–DelBene said she is waiting for answers from the scoping process and environmental impact study, and then went on to enumerate all the issues involved–mostly negative.
When she put her competitor, John Koster, away with, “I believe in science,” the 50 people there broke into applause.
For me the most interesting answer was to the question, “How can you, as a new Congresswoman, expect to make a difference in a body with 435 partisans?” Her answer: Information can be powerful. If one knows a subject she will be sought out even if one’s office is in the basement of the Capitol. “When John Koster voted against an appropriations bill five times in six, he said it was because he hadn’t had time to read the bills–you don’t want to employ someone like that to be your representative.”
Via, the view of the Bay and the people at the meeting who came from Blaine and Custer and elsewhere were just as attractive as the candidate. It is satisfying for our community to make such a good impression on someone whose base is Bellevue.



*** ***
Standing by the door, I found that as many people were coming to Via to eat as came to meet DelBene. After Suzan left, Ruth and I stayed to split a small salad and eat two appetizers–Steamed Mussles and Seafood Mitkof. When I asked Google about the latter, up came Via Birch Bay and explained it is a seafood saute in a brandy cream finished with a toasted smoked Gouda. With this meal, we drank a nice Pinot Grigio. Via Birch Bay Bar and Bistro is a keeper!

Congressional Conversation

 Birch Bay Issues, Politics  Comments Off on Congressional Conversation
Oct 152012
Meet 1st Congressional District Candidate Suzan DelBene.


Sunday, October 28th, 1 to 2 p.m. at the Topside Room, VIA Birch Bay Cafe and Bistro, 7829 Birch Bay Drive, Birch Bay, WA.
Complimentary snacks, tea and coffee; no-host bar.
RSVP: 371-5312.
Organized by Birch Bay and Blaine Precinct Committee Officers in cooperation with the Whatcom County Democrats.

Fish and Chips at VIA Birch Bay Cafe and Bistro

 Birch Bay Issues, Food  Comments Off on Fish and Chips at VIA Birch Bay Cafe and Bistro
Oct 152012

VIA Birch Bay Cafe and Bistro, the only property on the water side of central Birch Bay Drive, recently opened for business under the experienced eye of Mr. Yoon Oh. This genial and optimistic restauranteur welcomes patrons with a warm handshake and cheerful smile. He offers us boat-side service if we ever paddle up in our kayak.

VIA Birch Bay Cafe and Bistro
 Mr. Oh tells us that, because of his shoreline location, multiple county and state restrictions limit what he could and could not do when renovating the space for his new restaurant.

View of Birch Bay from VIA

The main improvement was replacing the musty old carpeting with an appealing hardwood floor. And, of course, the exterior Ivory Palace paint that erased the former dull brown. The dining area, bar and espresso counter offer amazing views of the bay, ever changing with the weather and the tide level.

This is the second in our “Who has the best fish and chips in Birch Bay?” series. We order their cod and Al has chips and coleslaw, which come standard, with his; Ruth requests a substitute garden salad ($10.00 each – Mr. Oh does not fool around with .99 prices). We also spring for a shared appetizer of pick ‘n peel shrimp ($8.00).
Farren, our wait person, is a model customer-service person–as is Steve, the manager on duty.
       Water and wine (a couple of crisp Barefoot Pinot Grigios–$5.00 each) keep us occupied while we wait for the appetizer. In less than ten minutes, the succulent shrimp hit our table. They with the cocktail sauce are sensational.
Succulent shrimp

Many of the staff are familiar to Birch Bay patrons from their previous service at the former CJ’s Beachhouse.

Scrumptious fish with fries
Scrumptious fish with salad
When the entrees arrive, the fish batter is crisp and brown, cooked  throughout,  The cod is moist and scrumptious. The platter comes with a lemon wedge and we request malt vinegar.
The food is fine and upcoming events at VIA include Hallowe’en, New Years Eve and New Years Day Parties.  (Oh yes, see PrudentVentures.blogspot.com for an October 28 Conversation with Congressional Candidate Suzan
Our conclusion is that VIA is a positive addition to the food establishments of Birch Bay.

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 .

Sampling Fish and Chips at Shores

 Birch Bay Issues, Food  Comments Off on Sampling Fish and Chips at Shores
Oct 092012

Shores, located in Birch Bay’s Sandcastle Resort, is a family restaurant/sports bar. That makes for a mixed dynamic: sporadically raucous team fans competeing with youngsters who have neglected to leave their “outside voices” at the door.
Here to test their claim as, “The Best Fish and Chips in Birch Bay,” we order their cod offering, leaving the halibut choice for another time. Al has chips and coleslaw that comes standard; Ruth requests a substitute garden salad ($11.99). Christine, our perky and cheerful waitperson, is attentive and knowledgeable.
Water and wine (a refreshing 14 Hands Pinot Grigio in a generous six ounce pour–$6.00 each) keep us occupied while we wait for the kitchen to catch up with the less-than-over-whelming demands. We scan the spacious room where bright green and blue wooden chairs contrast with the mahogany booths and chairs. At least eight television sets keep the home-town crowd entranced as the Seattle Seahawks best the Carolina Panthers.
Out bountiful platters arrive with two large portions of fish and healthy serving of chips and coleslaw and salad. The fish batter is crisp and browned on the outside, while slightly gummy on the inside. The cod is ideal, cooked not too much nor too little. The platter comes with a lemon wedge to complement the malt vinegar and ketchup available on the table.
Shores does not have a declared splitting policy, but Christine assured us we could order one serving and she would provide an extra plate and tartar sauce.
Because it is hard to check out the cleanliness of the kitchen, Ruth has always depended on the restroom as a measure of the overall sanitary practices. This one is clean and bright. As in many other places these days, the former hand-soap dispenser holes gape out of the counter; the soap is now dispensed by a motion-sensor wall device. Motion activated units also dispense paper towels. Al described the men’s room as adequately suppled and clean, although it would not make Achitectural Digest.
Patrons enjoy the panoramic bay view from the deck on this sunny October Sunday as well as from indoors.
We relished our take-home portions the next day. Now the dilemma will be whether we split an order in the future or anticipate a second serving.

Action in the South End

 Birch Bay Issues, Food  Comments Off on Action in the South End
Aug 192012

 Week after week this summer the Birch Bay Market at the corner of Alderson and the Drive has been gaining vendors and customers Friday through Sunday. The Pats (Alesse) and Nancy Firsdell have made this happen.
The August 4th weekend was the ultimate: Saturday was SnipFest – nine hours of music – to benefit WeSnip.org, the emergency clinic that neuters dogs and cats. The magic behind this comes from Tammy Pearce and Dave Bucknell of the Bay Cafe, located across the road from the Alesse’s C Shop.
That’s Tammy holding the microphone. Last year SnipFest raised $4,000; Tammy expected the total to be well over $5,000 this year. The woman to her left is Nancy Firsdell, who did much of the work to attract 50 vendors. The band on stage is Black Out Alliance that drew in many of the other performers and closed out the show.
Both of the sponsoring businesses flourished and brought the action to the South End of the Bay once again.

Vote for Darcy Burner

 Birch Bay Issues, Politics  Comments Off on Vote for Darcy Burner
Jul 302012

How you get ahead in this society: You’re born in Alaska and adopted by a family in Nebraska. The father had enlisted in the Army after high school. The mother, who already had two sons, wanted a girl. But Darcy was a tom-boy geek. (A second daughter was a girl-girl, now a nurse.)

Darcy applied to Harvard and worked her way to a degree in computer science. Then to Seattle and Microsoft where she wrote code and rose to become manager of a significant project and a successful product.

When Darcy decided to run for office she went to see one of the oracles of the Congress who told her to concentrate on fundraising. Instead, Darcy Burner joined a number of significant organizations including the Afghanstan Study Group whose report on ending the war was endorsed by Republicans as well as Democrats.

A few weeks ago, Burner was impressive as keynote speaker at the Netroots Nation conference. More impressive than Elizabeth Warren, running for the Senate in Massachusetts. Darcy has been going around the new 1st Congressional District with Retired Major Gen. Paul Eaton, who was a leader in Iraq. Recently they talked at the Blaine Senior Center about the cost of the Afgahanstan war in money and lives. Here’s a summary in a devastating New Yorker article – July 9-16 issue – by Dexter Filkins who was co-winner in 2010 George Polk award for coverage of this war:

After 11 years, nearly two thousand Americans killed, sixteen thousand Amerricans wounded, nearly four hundred billion dollars spent, and more than twelve thousand Afghan civilians dead since 2007, the war has come to this: mission not accomplished.

Burner and Eaton note that 80 percent of Americans are against this war, as measured by opinion polls. They argue the end should be now rather than 2014, as the President has projected.

The trend in TV ads and direct mail is for candidates to keep the message simple, easy to understand by children of all ages. Examples are the mailing pieces we are getting daily from Suzan DelBene and Laura Ruderman. Darcy Burner’s brochure is a small book that covers the major issues.

The 1st Congressional is a district that was structured – not gerrymandered – for an equal contest. There are six Democratic candidates.

With phone calls and knocking on doors we have been surveying voter attitudes. Many are disgusted with the lack of substance. Darcy Burner is a candidate who is showing the way to better politics.


Nosin’ Around for News

 Birch Bay Issues, Food  Comments Off on Nosin’ Around for News
May 102012

The new Birch Bay Cafe and Bistro will open in about a month in the building we know and love as the “Blue Fish.” This according to Mr. Yoon, the proprietor, who I met Wednesday evening. He was working hard and sweating from cleaning the place up but smiling as he pointed to the liquor license application on the door.
But the picture is bleak at the Beach House that many are wistfully calling Stefanie’s again. I’m hearing that, if new management doesn’t appear soon, the season will be lost. A former employee explained that when Wynstra folded the leasing company pulled out all the equipment and that will take time to replace.
Down the drive, the CJ Wijns space was purchased by ‘Grand Bay’ condo owners who are advertising for an operator. There, too, nothing is left – including that nice furniture.
Word is the golf course is an impossible situation because the high cost of water to keep the grass alive could never be covered by green fees.
Turning to the beach, we understand Birch Bay and Blaine have been separated in a petition by ReSources to require participation in stormwater permit requirements. There was consideration that Blaine does not have enough population to be included but that, we understand, has been resolved. This is a WIN for the folks who run the Blaine city government – Dept. of Ecology pressure will enhance their stature of having the 97th worst polluted body of water in the state.