Tuesday, July 28, 2009

July 2009

Rain Gardens Continue to Intrigue

On Thursday, July 9 the Master Gardener Foundation toured several exciting rain garden and rain garden variations in the Lake Whatcom watershed. The gardens were all beautiful and the Master Gardeners were intrigued.

Jean Waight began the tour by relating the history of the Palmgren project. For those of you unfamiliar with the project, the Palmgren family decided to replace a deteriorating bulkhead on Lake Whatcom with a beautiful soft-shore protection approach that provides nearshore habitat, and to drain their soggy lawn by incorporating a large rain garden which slows and filters stormwater from their home. The rain garden area has filled to overflowing with lush growth. Area frogs also enjoy it! It was a delight to see that the soft-shore approach had also held up well over time.

Sue Brown, Kay McMurran, and Dawn LaTurco described the demonstration rain garden project that they undertook last year at Kay’s home. The garden is getting gorgeous and Kay reported she’s never seen the rain garden overflow. This is truly amazing when you consider the torrential rains and flooding we experienced this January.

The tour finished up at Sue Taylor’s property with a look at some of her innovative methods of dealing with stormwater and her careful stewardship of Lake Whatcom. It’s a destination not to be missed for any garden/native plant enthusiast. Thanks everyone for continuing to be a resource to our community!

Updates on Chuckanut Bay Days

This training was a great success. Shelley Halle, Corrine Hughes, Marie Hitchman, Chris Brown, and Lisa Balton were joined by Doug Stark and the Beach Naturalists on a surprisingly chilly morning last Thursday. We learned a ton about Chuckanut (Mud) Bay, the marsh and the creek. I discovered, among many other interesting things, that the area was called Mud Bay even before the railroad trestle went in, that unmarked (i.e. wild) Chinook salmon have been found in the bay, that the marsh is the highest quality salt marsh in Bellingham, and that fish don’t like to swim through culverts if they don’t have to.

Our Chuckanut Bay Team is gaining this information for the purpose of sharing it with the Chuckanut Bay neighbors. We hope to support the appreciation neighbors already have for their special place and inspire even greater stewardship.

If you would like to lend a hand and take a nice walk through a pretty neighborhood sometime during the week of August 10, we would love help with hanging door hangers announcing the upcoming educational events at the bay, let me know! If you would like to join us, mark your calendars for August 29, and September 19.

Chris Brown points out the zonation apparent on the sandstone

Beach Watchers Evaluation

As you know, Sue Blake is directing an extensive evaluation of the Beach Watchers program. Thank you everyone who has been participating in that process. You know you can always log the time you spend on surveys or providing feedback as part of your hours. Just call if "Program Support." As part of that she's asked me to get some feedback from all of you on the newsletter. Is it useful to you? Do you enjoy reading it? Do you wish it provided something more or different? It would be wonderful if you you drop me a quick email on your impressions of the newsletter. Or you could send it directly to Sue if you wish at sgblake@wsu.edu.

Rose and the Seal

Rose Lavoie keeps a neat blog that I’ve included her before. Her most recent post is her story about helping a stranded seal pup with the Marine Mammal Stranding Network. You can follow Rose’s experiences here:

The Marine Mammal Stranding Network can always use some more helping hands. One job that would require minimum training but would be a real help is providing crowd control in the event of a major stranding. Staying approximately 50 yards from any marine mammal is the law and it makes good sense for human and animal safety. Having helpers explain that to curious onlookers would help MMSN responders work with the animal. If you’d like to help out, just contact Bob Ryerson at 758-4124 or flowol8 AT aol.com.

Essence of Bellingham

Wendy Harris is a fantastic photographer and her talents were recognized this year in the Essence of Bellingham photo competition. Her tidepool photo, Anemone and Rain, won "Best of Subject (Plant Wildlife) Amateur" and her photo of a purple shore crab received an honorable mention.

Anemone and Rain by Wendy Harris

Recycling Questions

Have you ever wondered where you can take styrofoam peanuts, ink cartridges, or other unusual items for reuse or recycling? I stumbled on this great resource with the Washington State Department of Ecology while I was researching an article for the Shore Stewards program on pharmaceuticals in the environment. To access the website just point your browser to 1800recycle.wa.gov, or fortress.wa.gov. The search engine is a little counter-intuitive but you can really be specific in your search. You can look for a “drop-off” service, “pick-up,” “mobile collection,” or a “you-ship.” Then you specify whether you are seeking a residential or commercial service, your county, and the type of material you are looking to recycle in the last drop down menus (phew). If you get stuck you can call the Department of Ecology for help at, (you guessed it) 1-800-recycle!

Local News and Local Government

I appreciate the updates on local goings on I receive via email from Watershed Master / Beach Watcher Kathy Berg and also from the Baykeeper. To get on their mailing lists just send an email request to: chairkathy@birchbayinfo.org and/or waters@re-sources.org.

Rain, Rain, Store Away, Use Again Another Day

Here’s a great article on the current somewhat difficult to understand rules around rainwater harvest and some innovative ways that cities are working to encourage rainwater harvest.