Monday, December 14, 2009

December 2009 Waterline

Beach Watchers Hiatus

It is my sad duty to announce that we will not run a Beach Watchers training program this spring. Whatcom County Extension has decided to consider reformatting the program so that even more fabulous volunteers (such as yourselves) might become involved in protecting our water resources and so that we might be able to operate with more stable funding.

It has been my great pleasure to work side-by-side with you these last 4 ½ years. I have learned a ton, I have met amazing people along the way, and I have had a lot of fun. Thank you Watershed Masters and Beach Watchers for everything. You really do make a difference and you have made my work worthwhile!

I will continue as your coordinator until the end of February. Since the future of the program and my personal employment beyond December had been unresolved until quite recently, I made very few plans or commitments for 2010. In our remaining time together I would be happy to help you with projects or activities you would like some assistance with. Have you been considering a project that could use some of my skills, some local resources, or perhaps the help of a small team of Beach Watchers? I could help you with that and now's the time to grab my support!

If you have ideas for something you would like to do, please let me know at your earliest convenience. I'll be with my family for most of the time between now and the new year but we can get the ball rolling with your ideas ASAP in 2010. Or, if you want to fulfill your outstanding volunteer commitment (or just want to stay involved) but don't have an idea for a project, just let me know what kinds of things you would like to do, and I can probably hook you up with great local opportunities to do important work.

Meanwhile, as I wrap up the grant from the EPA, I have been asked to gather some more information from you all. I have 10 questions that can be answered online or, if you prefer, we can talk on the phone. I know that surveys are not everyone's favorite thing to do, but this kind of information is incredibly helpful and you can certainly count the time you spend on it as “program support.”

Click here to take survey

Thanks again, and have a super Hanukkah, Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year!

See you next year!

Dungeness Crab Mercury Sampling Project - Can you Help?

Here's a great opportunity to help figure out the ramifications of mercury contamination in Bellingham Bay and our local waters. Clint Duncan from the Class of 2007 writes:

"As you know I became interested in the ramifications of Hg contamination the area around the GP plant during the Beach Watchers course. I have been some what critical of the monitoring approaches. Dave McBride of the DOH has offered to run Hg analyses on up to 30 samples of hair for free."

Do you crab? Do you eat locally caught Dungeness? Do you know someone who does?
It would be best to get hair samples from people who primarily consumed crab caught in Bellingham Bay, but consumers of any locally caught crab during our crab fishing seasons would be great.

The procedure for hair collection is rather simple. Ideally it would be good to have the hair washed the night before and use gloved (latex or nitrile) hands while cutting and handling the hair (but not essential). Typically we test the section of hair closest to the scalp on the back of the head just above the neck-hair line.

A hair sample size no larger than the thickness of a pencil and at least a half inch long (one inch or longer is better) is needed. Simply use a pair of scissors and cut the hair off against the skin. I'll be testing that section of hair that was closest to the scalp so it is important to tape the hair together in a bundle and then label it with a permanent marker. The tape should go on the hair one to two inches away from where you cut it. Scotch tape works fine. Once it is cut, taped, and labeled, place it in a plastic Ziploc bag (label can go on the bag or tape). One sample per bag. Also it would be of interest to know the age, weight, and sex of the person and a guesstimate of crab consumption quantities.

If you can give a hair sample, or if you can persuade a friend or neighbor to give a hair sample, this would be very helpful!!

You can drop the samples off to the Extension Office. Since I'll be out of the office with my kiddos for winter break, your best bet for getting questions answered would be to write to Clint Duncan directly:

Thanks for initiating this Clint!

Rain Garden Outreach - The Precipitators

Thanks to Richard Nevels for his great help presenting our Rain Garden DVD to the Birchwood Garden Club. It was a full house in the Whatcom Museum's Rotunda Room. And the gardeners were very, very receptive. We answered a lot of questions and distributed a lot of manuals. Richard was a natural in front of the group!

Thanks again to Bob Hendricks for the making the connection!

A Glimpse into Beach Monitoring

Remember when the sky was blue and we wore shorts and, sometimes, plastic bags on our feet?

Thanks Jeanne Bogert for sharing these photos of the Beach Monitoring Team at work!

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