The annual Bellingham State of the Bay Symposium, coordinated by Water Resources Educator, Sue Blake, brings researchers, managers and interested citizens together to broaden our understanding of Bellingham Bay, and explores opportunities to enhance communication and coordination to protect the bay for future generations.
The all-day event features speakers, posters and videos covering a wide range of topics, including the latest research results, new research needs and coordination/communication opportunities. Many recommendations are made by participants to enhance research, coordination and outreach associated with the bay in the coming years.
The Bivalves for Clean Water program educates marine shoreline owners and recreational shellfish harvesters about coastal pollution, ecosystem health, water quality and resource management issues challenging Puget Sound and Hood Canal. This multifaceted approach lets participants choose activities that fit their individual learning styles and interests.
Activities offered include workshops, field trips, shellfish-enhancement activities, citizen monitoring, beach walks and assessments, site visits, publications and one-on-one technical assistance.
Contaminants in Puget Sound are a growing concern. Heavy metals such as mercury, copper and lead are known to have neurological, developmental and reproductive effects on wildlife and humans. Cleaning products may not be responsible for the majority of contaminants in Puget Sound but they do contribute to pollution problems.
Each year Washington loses more of its natural shorelines to development and erosion-control structures such as bulkheads, seawalls and riprap. WSG is a partner in the development of Green Shores for Homes. Patterned after the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), Green Shores for Homes is an incentive program for shorelines that is designed to advance sustainable coastal planning, design and development through practices such as wider setbacks, riparian buffers and stormwater management, which can protect critical functions and make later restoration actions unnecessary.
Green Shores for Homes will promote natural and soft shoreline development to minimize environmental impacts from hard shoreline armoring in a cost-effective manner. The program includes a credit rating system currently being developed by WSG in partnership with San Juan County, the City of Seattle, British Columbia’s Island Trust, and the Green Shores technical team.
WSG assists homeowners and other interested in learning about shoreline restoration and alternatives to conventional hard shoreline armoring.
WSG offers opportunities for citizens of all ages to learn how to recreationally harvest marine and shoreline species and how to do so safely, legally and sustainably. Join local experts, experienced harvesters and Sea Grant staff in the classroom and in the field.
This program is designed to test a fundamental idea associated with the Elwha dam removals: that the input of a massive dose of new sediment from the Elwha River into marine waters will nourish beaches miles away. Monthly surveys of beach profiles and grain size help researchers test the concepts that are used to manage shorelines throughout Washington State.
These surveys help investigators better understand the full scope of the restoration benefit of removing the dams. And this research provides a case study for adapting to long-term environmental changes like sea level rise.
In addition to supporting the research, WSG partners with multiple entities engaged in the Elwha studies to facilitate funding, coordinate outreach efforts, organize meetings and publish results.
A Septic Social is a great way to meet your neighbors and entertain your friends while discovering your underground treasure. The program, which has been running for more than 20 years, was developed by WSG to bring the topic of septic system operation and maintenance to users’ backyards.
Sea Grant staff meet with the host a week before a Social to uncover the septic system and learn its layout. During the Social, participants learn to check the sludge and scum layer as well as the system’s flow. Uncovering the system and letting people explore it from aboveground takes the mystery out of how the system works.
Find more resources here:
Septic System Landscaping
Planting is recommended in septic areas because plants assist oxygen exchange and evaporation in the drainfield area. Covering your septic area with plastics, bark, gravel or patio blocks set in sand won’t provide the same benefits as planting. Landscapes can be attractive and easily maintained when you choose the right plants and adornments to conceal above ground septic system components. How do you know which plants will do well? Which ones won’t harm your system? This workshop teaches homeowners the basics of landscaping existing and new septic systems.
For more information about these workshops, email Teri King at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maintaining Your Pressure Distribution Septic System
Maintaining Your On-Site Sand Filter Septic System
Maintaining Your Mound Septic System
WSG trains volunteers in shoreline processes, armoring function, and removal and permitting processes so they can assist homeowners interested in removing shoreline barriers (armoring) from their property.
Volunteers provide homeowners with informative, non-regulatory resources that help guide them through the process. This program is coordinated by WSG and Washington State University. To participate or for additional information:
- Email Jeff Adams at email@example.com
Each year, state and federal governments spend millions of dollars funding competitively ranked projects for restoring salmon habitat. But they provide very little funding for monitoring, assessing the effectiveness of restoration approaches or ensuring that ecological responses meet project goals. Using trained volunteers and students, WSG is conducting long-term monitoring — including topographic surveys and beach transect surveys of sediment, slope and biological communities — of a large restoration project on a Bainbridge Island residential shoreline.
WSG provides oversight, analyzes the data collected, supervises citizen volunteers and shares results with others interested in shoreline restoration. WSG is also monitoring the restorations at a Bremerton park and a private site near Silverdale, and exploring the possibility of a network of long-term baseline monitoring sites around the Kitsap Peninsula.
To support such restoration efforts, staff are completing a guide to shoreline plants, together with related web content, and have created a Shoreline Monitoring Tool Kit as an aid while out on the beach for volunteers and other shoreline monitors.
Stormwater runoff and poor residential practices are major contributors to the flow of toxins, chemicals, pathogens, nutrients and sediment into Puget Sound. WSG educates people and communities about how to become part of the solution by reducing stormwater pollution.
The program helps citizens understand their impacts on the marine environment, enlisting them in activities and best practices that promote environmental stewardship. This work includes teaching homeowners about low-impact residential practices such as:
WET invites you to look at the health of your well and learn how to keep your drinking water safe. The Washington State Department of Health recommends testing of individual wells annually for fecal coliform bacteria; testing your water is the best way to identify any contamination. WET provides homeowners with a local, inexpensive way to do the testing.
Four times a year, residents can submit drinking water samples to WSG to be tested for bacterial indicators of fecal contamination. WSG then helps participants interpret the test results and, if necessary, works closely with them to identify and remedy sources of contamination.
The Whatcom Watersheds Information Network (WWIN) is a network of representatives from government agencies, non-profit organizations, educational institutions and citizens who are involved and interested in marine and freshwater ecosystems and natural resources education and outreach.
WSG educator Sue Blake coordinates and supports WWIN activities. The primary mission of the network is to support and improve watershed education, stewardship, information exchange and public involvement in Whatcom County.