Friday, February 4, 2011

Is this an emergency?

The excavator in this picture was delivered to the eastern shoreline of Lummi Island last night after dark, at high tide. During the next few days, it will be used to build a massive rock wall 319 feet long, near the high tide line, called a bulkhead. Barges will deliver hundreds of multi-ton boulders, and the excavator will drive back and forth across the beach to place the boulders underneath the large house on the right side of this picture. Why? After a legal settlement, the property owner was granted an exemption from the Whatcom County Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) substantial development permit system. In the settlement, the County agreed that erosion from waves clearly threatened this valuable building, enabling the bulkhead.

What if all the people that live on this bluff decide to do this? Imagine what our shoreline would look like if everybody decides to build huge rock walls under their beautiful shoreline homes. Well, it would be good business for rock quarries and barge companies. But it will be ugly, and it will damage shoreline habitat. Besides harming habitat, this bulkhead will probably increase erosion problems on the adjacent properties. This is bad planning, called “de-planning” by some of us. The excavator on the beach is the emergency, not the erosion. Stay tuned for a photo of a big, ugly wall of boulders on this beach.

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