WSU Whatcom County Extension

Beach Watchers of 2010

The Beach Watcher Program is currently on hold in Whatcom County.  If you are interested in potential future offerings of the program please contact Sue Blake and your name will be put on a waiting list.  Thanks for your interest in Beach Watchers!

(360) 676-6736 •


Local Projects


Rain Garden Project

Working in the Rain Garden

Rain Gardens are designed to accept runoff from rooftops and driveways. They infiltrate and filter the water and prevent a growing source of pollution – stormwater runoff.

Beach Watchers collaborated with Master Gardener and Master Composter/Recycler Volunteers to develop a demonstration rain garden and film the process.

We are currently developing short rain garden introductory DVD to share with neighborhood associations and community groups


Escape Cord Project

Escape Cord Workers

Improperly outfitted lost crab pots can catch and kill up to 70 crabs each year. Beach Watcher volunteers offered crabbers free samples of escape cord - a biodegradable cotton cord – to use on their pots, as well as tips on how to prevent lost crab pots and where to report lost gear so that removal efforts are effective.

Poster of Escape Cord Event

- Volunteers shared samples of escape cord and talked to crabbers at 4 boat launch locations.

- We distributed 680 escape cord cards, 25 additional cord samples, and personally contacted 322 crabbers.

- We conducted surveys on crabbing activity, current use of escape cord and intentions to use escape cord in the future.

- Articles appeared in Adventures Northwest Magazine, the Whatcom Watch, the Northern Light, and the Bellingham Herald and the Whatcom County Shore Stewards Newsletter.

- During the last week of August, Beach Watchers received several calls from fishing supply and licensing outlets requesting additional cards.


Beach Monitoring

Beach Monitoring Volunteers

Beach Watchers measured beach elevation from the back beach to low-tide, and recorded substrate types, sea-weeds, intertidal organisms and shellfish, at 5 locations in Whatcom County:

- Point Roberts (pdf)
- Semiahmoo
- Birch Bay - Cottonwood Beach (pdf)
- Marine Park
- Chuckanut Bay - Mud Bay (pdf)


Creosote Survey

Creosote Volunteers

Creosote treated logs were once used extensively for docks and pilings. They are not longer approved for use in the marine environment because the logs leach creosote – a powerful pesticide and fungicide – which has been shown to be harmful to fish eggs and is absorbed in the bodies of nearby fish.

Beach Watchers worked with high school students from Blaine to survey Cherry Point reach for creosote materials.

Creosote Survey Map                     Creosote Inventory Map from Cherry Point Survey
click map to view larger (jpg)                        click map to view larger (pdf)


We discovered 170 pieces of creosote and pressure treated material in this stretch of beach. The source of material is not known and it has been difficult to determine how the rogue logs move on the beach. The general drift cell pattern is to the south but tracked pieces mostly moved north during a movement study conducted by Department of Natural Resources.

We also removed 4 large trash bags full of assorted garbage. The source and movement of this material was not hard to assess at all. There was a clear concentration of garbage lose to the Gulf Road parking lot. The most unusual piece of garbage was a couple of car bumpers!


Public Education Workshops and Events

Heron Presentation

- Great Blue Herons talk by Ann Eissenger. Beach Watcher presented “Simple things you can do to protect Great Blue Herons.”

- Beach Watchers taught 5th grade students stream ecology fundamentals during the annual 4-H Forest Conservation Tour

- Co-hosted two talks at the Whatcom Museum of History and Art as part of their brown bag lunch series.

- Post Point Lagoon Restoration presentation with Renee LaCroix at Whatcom Museum as part of their brown bag lunch series.

Bob and his Painted Rain Barrel

- Promoted Rain Barrels at Shore Stewards Booth, Blaine Marina Customer Appreciation and Drayton Harbor Maritime Festival

- Rain Garden Presentation to Happy Valley Neighborhood Association

- Rain Garden Presentation to Building Industry Association Built Green Conference

- Promoted Rain Gardens & Rain Barrels at Northwest Washington Fair and Master Gardener Plant Sale

- Climate Change presentation by Tim Cooper in collaboration with Re-Sources, Carbon Masters, People for Puget Sound. Available online at:

Blue Thumb Workshop

- Created Blue Thumb Workshop for Lummi Island

- Promoted Shore Stewards at public events and signed up 75 new individual Shore Stewards and as well as the Cedrus Cooperative Homeowners Association.


Additional Projects and Individual Volunteer Work

Tour of Greenway

- Created a stormwater facility tour of Western Washington University and City of Bellingham’s highly effective stormwater facility.

- Water quality testing on Tenmile Creek, Chuckanut Creek & in Drayton Harbor

- Analyzed the temperature and dissolved oxygen time series from Tenmile Creek.

- Participation in the Marine Mammal Stranding Network

- Helped Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife spread 30,000 lbs of oyster cultch at Birch Bay State Park

- Participated in the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve negotiations

- Marine Resource Committee clam population research

- Interpretation and support for the Marine Life Center


Public Education via Local Media

Articles by Beach Watchers:

Rain Gardens a Sound Solution to Pollution, by Sonia Hurt. The Northern Light, May 1-7, 2008

Creosote can be Creepy, by Jane Lewinski. Shore Stewards Newsletter September 2008

Trashing the Ocean, by Sonia Hurt. Shore Stewards Newsletter November 2008

What is a TMDL and Why Should You Care? by Wendy Harris. Whatcom Watch, August 2008

To Grind or not to Grind? by Sue Brown. Community Food Coop Newsletter, January 2009

Estuaries, by Jeanne Bogert. Chuckanut Community and Firefighters Association Newsletter, January 2009


2009 Training
Starting Soon!

The 2009 training will be held on Tuesdays and Fridays in Bellingham with field trips throughout Whatcom County.

March 17-May 8
(no classes April 7th & 10th)

Tuesdays 6pm-9pm
Fridays 9am-4:30pm

(Microsoft Word Document)



Upcoming Events & Opportunities

Events Web Page

Local events and opportunities of interest to Beach Watchers and Beach Watcher sponsored events.

Heading using the h3 tag

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

WSU Whatcom County Extension, 1000 North Forest Street, Bellingham, WA 98225, (360) 778-5800, Contact Us