Natural Shorelines

“Rocks Off the Beach” Project Completed on Shaw Island!

by Friends of the San Juans on October 25, 2017 No comments

Spawning habitat for the surf smelt, a small fish important in marine food webs, just got a whole lot better at a local beach thanks to the hard, and often muddy, work of public service organizations, contractors, landowners, community members and school kids. Over the past few weeks 600 linear feet of shoreline has been improved along Shaw Island’s Blind Bay, a priority forage fish spawning region in the county. The surf smelt that spawn year round on the beaches of Blind Bay require small gravel and sand to successfully incubate their tiny eggs. Friends of the San Juans led efforts to remove large angular rock that over the decades had fallen from armoring structures and covered large portions of the natural beach.

Work occurred at two locations along the bay, with different restoration methods. At one site, which hosted large volumes of rock slated for removal, Friends of the San Juans contracted with Shaner Excavating and Tree Service of Orcas Island to mobilize large equipment and mechanically remove about 120 cubic yards of large rock. A combination of sand and small gravel nourishment material, also known as ‘fish mix,’ was then brought in to restore suitable spawning substrate to the impacted beach.

At a second smaller site, with a much thinner layer of angular rock, Friends worked with a Washington Conservation Corps crew, Shaw School students, and community volunteers to enhance the spawning site. Over 6 cubic yards of rock were removed from the beach surface, unburying the naturally smaller grained beach below. The cleared rock was placed into large bags and will be picked up for upland disposal by Hardy Schmidt Excavation of Shaw Island.

“Participants from the Shaw School and the WA Conservation Corps were so inspiring- they were enthusiastic, really got the connection between beaches and species further up the food chain such as salmon, seabirds and whales, and worked incredibly hard to remove a lot of rock despite a wide range of weather conditions” noted Friends Science Director Tina Whitman.

Friends of the San Juans will continue its work with local students to monitor the site and document potential changes in the distribution, density or success of incubating surf smelt eggs.  Special thanks to all the work crews, project designers at Coastal Geologic Services, and the multiple private landowners who participated in the project.

Funding for the project was provided by the Washington State Salmon Recovery Funding Board, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Friends members.

 

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Friends of the San Juans“Rocks Off the Beach” Project Completed on Shaw Island!

Check out our “Living with the Shoreline” Guide

by Friends of the San Juans on February 2, 2017 No comments

Click here to view the new “Living with the Shoreline” guide.

Waterfront properties in the San Juan Islands are part of a beautiful, complex, and increasingly fragile marine ecosystem that supports salmon, rockfish, seabirds, whales and human communities. Decisions made by owners of shoreline property can influence more than just their land. As one property owner noted “I wondered what can I, as one small person, do to help all of the animals that live in the water? It turns out that the orca feed on salmon, and salmon feed on the tiny little fish that spawn on my beach. For this reason, I will do all I can to keep our shoreline natural.”

To help provide information about cost effective and natural approaches to protecting waterfront property, Friends of the San Juans recently completed a new “Living with the Shoreline Stewardship Guide.” The colorful and accessible guide provides extensive technical information and resources on key topics of interest including vegetation management, coastal erosion and flooding, and the protection and restoration of habitat. Local landowners and properties are also highlighted throughout.

The shoreline guide will be mailed to all waterfront property owners in February. Everyone, not just waterfront landowners, can learn something new about our island community. Click here to download the guide, or pick up a copy at the Friends of the San Juans office 650 Mullis St. Suite 201 in Friday Harbor.

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Friends of the San JuansCheck out our “Living with the Shoreline” Guide