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Researchers, interns seeing Elwha come to life through fish studies

KEEPERS OF THE STREAMS Clallam County volunteers keep local waters clean and healthy


Couple shares healing relationship with Tarboo Creek in new book An advertising supplement produced by the Peninsula Daily News & Sequim Gazette



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Table of Contents 06 | peninsula events calendar

Check out what’s happening on the Peninsula during the months of March, April and May!





07 | arts, culture and entertainment

Quilcene couple shares their story of a healing relationship with Tarboo Creek in new book

11 | outdoor recreation

Columnist’s recent visits to Elwha Valley evoke awe-inspiring memories

15 | keepers of the streams

Clallam County volunteers strive to keep local waters clean and healthy for communities

19 | in care of coho

West End family continues efforts to enhance habitat for salmon in Eagle Creek Springs

23 | freeing a river

Researchers and their interns are seeing the Elwha River come to life through fish studies

24 | a pinch of peninsula

A leisurely weekend treat, our recipe for Gram’s Lazy Sunday Drop Biscuits is sure to satisfy

25 | the daytripper

Take in dramatic storms and see amazing wildlife this spring on our Northwest beaches

28 | the living end

We remember water’s universal power to nourish us mentally and physically

(ON THE COVER) A view above the Elwha Valley, circa 2014. Sequim Gazette photo by Michael Dashiell


Produced and published by PENINSULA DAILY NEWS and SEQUIM GAZETTE Advertising Department 305 W. First St., Port Angeles, WA 98362 • 360-452-2345 • 147 W. Washington St., Sequim, WA 98382 • 360-683-3311 • Terry R. Ward, regional publisher | Steve Perry, general manager Editorial & Production: Brenda Hanrahan & Laura Lofgren, special sections editors Advertising Sales: 360-683-3311 • 360-452-2345 ©2018 Peninsula Daily News | ©2018 Sequim Gazette

Spring 2018 Living on the Peninsula




FORKS/WEST END •  March 24-25: Nate Crippen Memorial Basketball Tournament, Forks High School gym. •  March 30: Welcoming the Whales Ceremony, First Beach in La Push, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. •  March 31: Easter Egg Hunt, Tillicum Park Baseball Fields in Forks, 1 p.m. SEQUIM •  March 24-25: Spring Driftwood Art Show, Dungeness River Audubon Center, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. PORT TOWNSEND/JEFFERSON COUNTY •  March 23-25: Port Townsend Victorian Festival. Schedule at


FORKS/WEST END •  April 1: Easter breakfast, Forks Elks Lodge, 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., prices vary. •  April 20-22: RainFest 2018, Forks, schedule TBA. •  April 20-22: Fabric of the Forest Quilt Show & Classes, Forks, by donation. Schedule at •  April 21: River & Ocean Film Festival, Rainforest Arts Center, doors open at 6 p.m. •  April 21: Free Entrance Day in Olympic National Park, •  April 21: Washington Coast Cleanup, West Coast beaches, •  April 28: Forks High School 1930 to 1999 Class Reunion, Forks Elks Lodge, 4 p.m., $20. RSVP to 360-640-2132. PORT ANGELES •  April 13-15: Olympic BirdFest 2018. Schedule and more information at •  April 14-16: NW Cup Downhill Mountain Bike Series Round 1, Dry Hill Mountain Bike Trails. Information at •  April 21: April Wines, Port Angeles Masonic Temple, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., $35. •  April 27-May 13: Port Angeles Community Players presents “Lend Me A Tenor,” $15. Schedule at •  April 28: OAT Run, Olympic Adventure Trail in Port Angeles. Schedule at SEQUIM •  April 13-15: Olympic BirdFest 2018. Schedule and more information at •  April 20-May 6: Olympic Theatre Arts presents “The Tin Woman,” Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m. More at

6 Living on the Peninsula Spring 2018

PORT TOWNSEND/JEFFERSON COUNTY •  April 7: Gallery Walk, downtown Port Townsend, 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. •  April 12-18: Key City Public Theatre presents “Wolf at the Door.” More at www.keycitypublic •  April 14-15: Port Townsend Film Festival Women & Film, Rose Theatre, $75 passes. More at •  April 21: Earth Day Spring Cleanup, downtown, 9 a.m. to noon. More at earth-day-spring-clean-up.


FORKS/WEST END •  May 5: Forks Lions Club White Cane Days Live Auction, Blakeslee’s Bar & Grill in Forks, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. •  May 6: Fishing Day for Kids, Bogachiel Rearing Pond in Forks, 6 a.m. to noon, children 12 and younger welcome. Free. •  May 23: Forks Logging and Mill Tours begin, Forks Visitor Information Center, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Wednesday through September. Call 360374-2531 to reserve a space. PORT ANGELES •  May 4-6: NW Cup Downhill Mountain Bike Series Round 2, Dry Hill Mountain Bike Trails. Information at •  May 5-6: Mustang Show n Shine, Front and Lincoln streets. Schedule at www.northolympic •  May 25-28: Juan de Fuca Festival of the Arts, downtown Port Angeles. Schedule at SEQUIM •  May 4-13: Sequim Irrigation Festival. Schedule at

FARMERS MARKETS ON THE PENINSULA •  Forks Open Aire Market, opens April 21, held Saturdays through September in the Umpqua Bank Parking Lot from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. •  Port Angeles Farmers Market, year-round every Saturday at The Gateway from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. •  Sequim Farmers Market, opens May 5, held Saturdays through Oct. 27 at Civic Center Plaza from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. •  Port Townsend Saturday Farmers Market, opens April 7, held Saturdays through October on Tyler Street from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. •  Port Townsend Wednesday Farmers Market, opens June 6, held Wednesdays through Sept. 26 at the Haines Street Park and Ride from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. •  Chimacum Farmers Market, opens June 3, held Sundays through Oct. 28 at the Chimacum Corner Farmstand from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

WINE, CIDER & CHEESE TOUR Featuring 10 wineries and cideries located from Nordland, Chimacum and Port Townsend to Port Angeles and Sequim, plus local cheese makers. April 28-29 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit www.olympic

PORT TOWNSEND/JEFFERSON COUNTY •  May 5: Gallery Walk, downtown Port Townsend, 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. •  May 14-20: Rhododendron Festival. Full schedule at •  May 20: Rhody Run, Fort Worden State Park, 11 a.m. Schedule at All event information listed here is up to date as of press time. Do you have an event you’d like to see listed in our June edition of Living on the Peninsula? Email special sections editor Laura Lofgren at with your June, July and August 2018 event information. Publication of submitted events is not guaranteed.

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Susan Leopold Freeman and her husband Scott Freeman take a break after a day of planting trees along Tarboo Creek.

Couple seeks to coexist with the forest, telling their story in new book Story and photos by Diane Urbani de la Paz As soon as you see her, artist Susan Leopold Freeman smiles, eyes asparkle. She comes from urban Seattle and before that the Art Institute of Chicago, but she’s a woman at home in this forest, at home with her husband by her side, at home in Quilcene. In the snug cabin on their property north of Dabob Bay, Susan and Scott Freeman sat for a spell to explain their beloved project, one they lay out in the new book “Saving Tarboo Creek: One Family’s Quest to Heal the Land.” The Freemans purchased 17 creekside acres back in 2004 — not to build a vacation home or to subdivide for development. No, the couple met in 1980 at the Aldo Leopold Institute, named for Susan’s grandfather. They married in 1981, and from that day forward, they

SOUL& SCIENCE embarked on a lifelong exploration of what’s known as the land ethic, a golden rule of treating Earth with care, just like you treat the people most dear to you. Susan, who holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Art Institute, is a painter, a music teacher and a maker of mosaics and fiber art. Her husband is a professor at the University of Washington and the recipient of the 2010 UW Distinguished Teaching Award. The couple have been Seattleites for a good 30 years now. One of their dreams was to find a place where they could put their love of the land into action. Rural Jefferson County’s Tarboo Creek, a stream afflicted with ditching and clear-cuts, was it. The ancient salmon run was dead in the water and surrounded by an abandoned pasture. This was not a stretch where it would be easy to plant trees. But plant they have. Western red cedars, grand firs and Douglas firs, red alders, Oregon grape, serviceberry and more, to re-establish all the layers of the forest. With the help of the Port Townsend-based Northwest Watershed Institute, they used an excavator, buckets of gravel, sandbags and an orchestra of workers to turn the drainage ditch into a meandering creek.

In “Saving Tarboo Creek,” Scott explains the science beneath it all: how a forest regenerates, how a fish population comes back to life, how the woods, the water, the animals and the people can thrive together. Yet there is also a dark and downright scary aspect to the book. As a biologist, author, father and grandfather, Scott explains the current and future effects of climate change and mass extinction. He details the deforestation in Brazil, the killing of timber wolves in the Northwest, and what continued population growth will do to us.

Spring 2018 Living on the Peninsula


“We may be on a trajectory to a mass extinction, but that doesn’t mean we have to end up there.” — Scott Freeman

Oregon grape is among some 40 species of trees and shrubs Scott Freeman and his crew have planted in the Tarboo Bay area of rural Jefferson County. But the Freemans are unbowed. As Scott notes in “Saving Tarboo Creek,” replanting projects are happening across the planet, from Turkey to Oregon to Kenya to China. These efforts are “glowing like candles in the night,” he writes, adding that the scientific field of restoration ecology is flourishing. Scott spends many pages explaining chemical reactions, soil science, interactions between fungi and trees and the breeding cycles of fish. He is, after all, an author of textbooks, including “Biological Sciences,” Volumes 1 through 3, and “Evolutionary Analysis.” In “Saving Tarboo Creek,” he wanted the soul to coex-

8 Living on the Peninsula Spring 2018

ist with the science. He let loose with descriptions like this of the fish he and his family observe: “The sockeye and pink salmon found in larger streams in the Pacific Northwest flush scarlet from nose to tail … Tarboo Creek’s coho dress in a deep emerald green above and a brilliant red below; the chum salmon are olive streaked with ruby-red gashes, like lightning strikes … “The females ripen great sacs of eggs, numbering up to 7,500 in large species like Chinook ... a fifth of a female’s body weight; imagine a 140-pound woman carrying a 28-pound baby in utero and swimming upstream — in some cases, hundreds of miles.”

Susan’s drawings — a sword fern, a birdhouse high on a conifer’s trunk, a pair of mittens, a long-stemmed wildflower — are interspersed into Scott’s text. They’re like a pause, a breath as you read. The Freemans, now in their 13th season of planting, rejoice in the presence, though fleeting, of native wildlife: black bear, bobcat, river otter, cougar and elk. They also must accept eagles who eat young fish and beavers who gnaw away young tree stems. They’re all part of the web of life — a network that could be disrupted or destroyed by the loss of species. Scott explains that we may be headed for disaster — but “the key word is may.” “We may be on a trajectory to a mass extinction, but that doesn’t mean we have to end up there. Beavers have dodged a bullet in North America and in Europe. We’ve pulled sandhill cranes and grizzly bears and bald eagles and bison back from the brink.” With more restoration efforts and global action on climate change and human population growth, we have a chance for a future together. Last fall Scott was teaching another of his 1,000student biology courses at the UW. The curriculum on climate change and mass extinction can hit a young person “like a ton of bricks,” he admitted. But Scott also talks about the Tarboo Creek project. The students respond by asking: “Are you going to be planting this winter? We want to come out and help.” On a recent chilly Sunday, Scott and Susan had a team of eight volunteers out planting. They’re part of a years-long chain of planting days, rainy and otherwise, when thousands of trees were given their own spots in which to grow. This forest ecosystem has the ingredients to stay for 100 years or longer. “We walk around now,” said Scott, “and say … it’s really happening.” Naturally, the Freemans encourage people to feed both the local ecosystem and their own spirits by getting out there with gloves and shovel. “The trees you are putting into the ground,” Scott writes, “are a gift to the world. They are a thank-you present.”



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Taking a step back Columnist’s recent visits to Elwha evoke awe-inspiring memories By Michael Dashiell I still feel like a bit of a tourist around these woods, but the first memories I have of hiking start right here, along the Elwha River. I was born into a military family and while we were a fairly active family in terms of getting out and about, hiking and camping were not our strong suits. Living in Charleston, S.C., and Sand Diego, Calif., and a suburb of Washington D.C., I never really acclimated to the great outdoors. That changed when we moved to Washington in the mid-1980s. I can’t recall how old I was — mid-teens, I’d guess — when my uncle Roger took my sister and me for an early morning hike. We were going to see if we could spot the local elk herd, he said. Great, I thought. What’s an elk? We wound our way up Whiskey Bend Road to the trailhead and made our way north-northwest toward Michael’s Cabin and Humes Ranch, peering across the great Elwha at sweeping views of the Geyser Valley. I was awestruck.

A view above the Glines Canyon Dam in 2014. Sequim Gazette photo by Michael Dashiell.

And I remain awestruck. I didn’t become an avid hiker after that, but I did gain an appreciation and an affinity for modest sojourns into our Olympic Peninsula backyards — particularly when I moved here from Bellingham in 2001. Beyond the obligatory hikes up at Hurricane Ridge and a couple of ill-conceived snow camping trips at Staircase, I started making light day-hikes into our national park a routine in all four seasons. On one of the first family excursions, I took Patsene, my then-girlfriend (now wife) and her two daughters (now stepdaughters) on that same trail Roger had taken me about a decade prior. We kept it a short hike, ambling down a wet, rootrutted trail to an overlook at Goblin’s Gate as the Elwha roared seemingly right beneath us. Years later some of those same paths became my favorite running trail in the late spring as I readied for local road races in the summer and fall. A couple of years later I was charged with writing a recreation column for this same publication, so I offered my weekend for some kayaking at Lake Aldwell.

Sequim Gazette editor Michael Dashiell and his dad, Robert, below the Glines Canyon Dam in 2014. Sequim Gazette photo by Michael Dashiell.

Spring 2018 Living on the Peninsula


“I don’t necessarily have a deep connection to this area — I mean, I’m not a fisherman, my ancestors never lived off this land, and I never took part in any river restoration efforts or anything — but the Elwha, to me, seems like a milestone marker for several points and for connections with people I care about.” Paddling south and underneath the U.S. Highway 101 bridge, my guide noted, “This (scenery) won’t be like this at all in a couple of years,” — referring to the impending Elwha River dam removals. (See for notes on where to get a great view of the site of the former lake.) The removal of the Elwha’s two dams — which have been covered in heartfelt depth by a number of journalists, photographers, authors and others — was to “restore the Elwha River to its natural, free-flowing state and will once again allow fish to access more than 70 river miles of pristine spawning habitat now protected within Olympic National Park,” according to an article the National Park Service wrote soon after announcing the project. “Once the dams are removed and the river restored, the river will once again produce (historical) levels of salmon and steelhead, with numbers exceeding 390,000 returning adult fish annually.” The Elwha, park officials note, was

once one of the most productive salmon streams in the Pacific Northwest and home to all five species of Pacific salmon as well as other fish species. But salmon were blocked from all but the lowest five miles of the river since the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams were built in the early 1900s. Hence, the dam removals. The year of the completion of their removals (2014), my dad and I spent an afternoon trekking up nearby trails to get the last few photos of Glines Canyon Dam. And later that year, Patsene and I took an airplane ride with a friend and got an eagle’s-eye view of the dams’ deconstruction and the sweeping Elwha Valley. With the massive, multi-million-dollar project came plenty of temporary trail closures, and with recent storm damage in 2018 there’s no access past the Madison Falls parking lot. Still, there are plenty of picturesque lowland trails and viewpoints to take in the majesty of the Elwha. (See www.nps. gov/olym/planyourvisit/elwha-river-trail. htm).

12 Living on the Peninsula Spring 2018

A surfer enjoys a late afternoon near the mouth of the Elwha River. Sequim Gazette photo by Michael Dashiell.

A view of the Elwha Valley in winter 2018. Photo by John Gussman/DoubleClick Productions (360-808-6406 or


The Elwha River, circa July 2009. Sequim Gazette photo by Michael Dashiell. When I was pondering the column for this Spring 2018 Living on the Peninsula publication and our “Water Research” theme, I was naturally drawn not to the Dungeness, to which I live in much closer proximity, and not the Strait of Juan de Fuca nor the Pacific Ocean, but the Elwha. I don’t necessarily have a deep connection to this area — I mean, I’m not a fisherman, my ancestors never lived off this land, and I never took part in any river restoration efforts or anything — but the Elwha, to me, seems like a milestone marker for several points and for connections with people I care about.

The mighty Elwha River can be seen from several vantage points in Port Angeles, including: •  Lower Elwha Klallam Tribal Center: Walk the 0.7-mile Warrior Path loop, located past the tribal center after a “dead end” sign on a rougher road, to the Elwha River estuary. While the river isn’t in plain sight, you can see how the river plane is changing and catch glimpses of wildlife. Lower Elwha Road. •  Elwha River Bridge: Cross the Elwha River bridge to get a gorgeous view of the rushing river. Drive down Crown Z Water Road to a parking area to get up close and personal with the river. Here, you can connect to the Olympic Discovery Trail, too. Elwha River Road/Crown Z Water Road. •  Elwha River Viewpoint: Observe the changing landscape where the Elwha River flows through the site of the former Lake Aldwell reservoir. West U.S. Highway 101. •  Elwha Valley: The Elwha Valley area is closed to vehicle traffic beyond the Madison Falls parking lot at the park boundary due to extensive flood damage/road washout. Use caution when exploring on foot. Olympic Hot Springs Road. •  Place Road access point: Off state Highway 112, follow Place Road to the end, where you’ll be able to walk out and see where the mouth of the Elwha is changing. As this access point is located in a residential neighborhood, please respect private property. Place Road. Spring 2018 Living on the Peninsula


I recently made my way to the mouth of the Elwha, where the change brought about by the dam removals is perhaps as obvious as anywhere else. Since the removal of the dams, sediment has been released back into the Elwha River, expanding the Elwha beach shoreline into a massive sandy spit. In 2016, a $2 million, multi-agency effort helped remove shoreline armoring from the beach, allowing the shore to restore itself. Since then, local and regional conservation groups and area tribes have been hard at work planting beach plants, helping stabilize the sediment protecting a nearby estuary that is home to salmon during their early life stages. To stand on this new patch of sand where everything is so new gives me pause, as I watched a few fellow visitors brace themselves against a bitter wind as we tiptoed the shoreline — it was a mid-winter day, after all. For years I naively thought rivers and mountains and trails and other things that stand out on a topographical map are unchanging, that there is some sort of constancy to them. When one looks at a map, I once thought, that’s the way it will be, no matter where I go and for how long. And I can return, knowing it would always be like it was in my mind. That, of course, is hardly true; our surroundings, and the people who view them, are constantly changing. While a little unnerving, there’s also some comfort — and wonder — in that.  Michael Dashiell is the editor of the Sequim Gazette and the Outdoor Recreation columnist for Living on the Peninsula.

Goblin’s Gates, circa July 2009. Sequim Gazette photo by Michael Dashiell.

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STREAMS Steve Bengtson and Bob Lake measure a cross-section on Salt Creek. Photo courtesy of Streamkeepers of Clallam County.

Clallam County volunteers keep local waters clean, healthy By Mary Powell With the amount of rain that falls on Clallam County, along with the number of sparkling creeks, streams and rivers flowing around us, one might be of the opinion that there is enough water for everyone for eternity and the water moving throughout the pristine environs of the North Olympic Peninsula is a naturally clean, pure and healthy waterway. Nothing could be further from the truth on both accounts. First, water is a finite resource. There are some 1,400 million cubic kilometers on Earth and circulating through the hydrological cycle. Nearly all of this is saltwater, and most of the rest is frozen or underground. Only one-hundredth of 1 percent of the world’s water is readily available for human use. Second, talking about, managing and using water is complicated. In Clallam County there are around 50 rivers, creeks and streams, from the well-known Dungeness and Bogachiel rivers, to the lesser-known Barnes and Bee creeks. Most of us take our water for granted. After all, it is always there for our enjoyment and use, be it fishing, swimming or hiking along a peaceful or churning river. However, if there is one group that knows the importance of and respects our water, it’s Ed Chadd and his merry band of streamkeepers. Chadd, program manager for Streamkeepers of Clallam County, couldn’t be happier with his 100-plus volunteers, he said from his tiny office in the basement of the Clallam County Courthouse in Port Angeles.


While some might think the name depends on the overall width or depth of the body or water, that’s not the answer. According to information from the U.S. Geological Survey, there are no official definitions for generic terms as applied to geographic features. The Geographic Names Information System database, the official repository of U.S. geographic names, actually classifies all “linear flowing bodies of water” as streams. At least 121 generic terms, including creek and river, fall under the category of streams. EARLY DAYS

What exactly is Streamkeepers? The official description: a scientific organization providing monitoring and data-management assistance toward the protection and restoration of local watershed, and a volunteer opportunity for residents interested in citizen science and stewardship. But volunteers in the field like to refer to their work as “mucking in the creeks.” Chadd has been with Streamkeepers as long as it has existed in Clallam County. Before that, he and a group of volunteers were part of the grant-funded 8 Streams Project of Washington State University Cooperative Extension. Unfortunately, grant funding ended in March 1999, but those who were already engaged in stream keeping wanted to forge forward. “The volunteers decided they didn’t want the program to end because they were already really into it,” Chadd said. “So we went to the (county) commissioners, and they convinced the commissioners taking care of the streams and rivers was a worthwhile project.”

Spring 2018 Living on the Peninsula


On April 1, 1999, Streamkeepers of Clallam County was created per unanimous vote of the Board of Clallam County Commissioners, which at that time included Martha Ireland, Carole Boardman and Phil Kitchel. The commissioners promised funding through the end of 1999. It was enough to get the volunteers fired up and ready to continue the work of the “stream teams.” The program was first part of the Clallam County Department of Community Development, succeeding the 8 Streams Project. Jessica Baccus and Chadd, both volunteers with the stream team, were appointed to take the helm. Throughout the years, the commissioners have continued to fund the Streamkeepers, and Streamkeepers have been able to garner grants here and there, mostly to support their many partners, such as the Wild Salmon Center, various tribes — including Jamestown S’Klallam, Quileute, Hoh and Makah tribes, to name a few — the County Clean Water District, North Olympic Land Trust, the National Park Service and many, many more. “Over the years, dozens of agencies have asked for our help in one way or another,” Chadd said. “We’re not in this alone.” When the organization was first endorsed, it had a staff of one and a half. By 2011, belt-tightening at the county level was in order, leaving the Streamkeepers with a staff of one, Chadd. Now his position is part-time; he is the only paid personnel. In December 2011, Streamkeepers moved from the Department of Community Development to Clallam County Public Works-Roads, with Chadd taking the part-time position, coordinating the program. At the time, Baccus pointed out it seemed like a strange fit, but road maintenance and construction permitting requires that environmental impacts be described and managed, and data supplied by Streamkeepers helps inform that process.

Furthermore, Baccus said, “If the state finds evidence that county infrastructure is having a major impact on streams, they can require the county to operate under a special permit related to the Federal Clean Water Act’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System.” That could end up costing the Clallam County roads division a lot of money, so it was in their interest to do their own monitoring and take quick action before things start deteriorating. “We’ve probably saved the county $1 million over time,” Chadd said. “The basic value of the program is to see the problems before they get worse and can be remediated.”


Although there are about 100 volunteers on the books, 56 of those are active. There are no age barriers, Chadd emphasizes. The youngest volunteer is 8 years old, the oldest — Walt Johnson — is in his 90s. Everyone is welcome, and the training is free, Chadd said, hoping to encourage a few more volunteers for the program. At the — Ed Chadd Streamkeepers office recently, Chadd and a few volunteers were busy inputting data into computers or getting ready to head out to a stream. Without much of a budget, it is overstating to call their space an office, but that certainly didn’t seem to bother anyone. Volunteer extraordinaire Coleman Byrnes is a retired fish and wildlife biologist who has worked first with the 8 Streams Project and then with Streamkeepers. He came clad in his stream-keeping ensemble: a well-worn baseball cap with his longish hair poking out, a couple of shirts, jeans and a full beard to top it off. Byrnes, 73, has been around the block — or should I say stream — when it comes to his knowledge of the mission and goals of the organization, as well as his deep-seated desire to accomplish those goals.

“The basic value of the program is identifying problems in time to remediate.”

16 Living on the Peninsula Spring 2018

Susannah Spock and Katie McLean process a benthic macroinvertebrate sample on the Sitkum River. Photo courtesy of Streamkeepers of Clallam County.


To provide credible data to decision-makers acting to protect and restore local watersheds, including: •  Describing current watershed conditions •  Identifying trends in watershed conditions •  Tracking known problem areas •  Screening for potential problems •  Helping to determine watershed restoration priorities •  Monitoring the effectiveness of watershed restoration projects •  Reporting the information to a variety of audiences. •  Facilitating public involvement in citizen science and stewardship.

“I enjoy getting to work with issues important to me,” Byrnes said of his volunteer work. “And Streamkeepers is important to me.” Chadd pointed out that Streamkeepers provides a springboard for looking into other water-related issues. For instance, Byrnes is now involved in eight to 10 committees to better serve the ecosystem, including the North Olympic Salmon Coalition and the North Olympic Land Trust. Streamkeepers issues are important to Sue Nattinger as well. A registered nurse by profession, she also is a Streamkeepers volunteer. “I’m attracted to the program because we are doing high-quality work that is the real thing,” Nattinger enthused. So what exactly do these volunteers do? In a nutshell, stream teams, or streamkeepers, perform regular quarterly monitoring at established sites on local streams, measuring aspects of stream health, such as the quality of the water, the diversity of life forms and the integ-

rity of the physical habitat. Special teams perform activities that includes trapping juvenile fish, replanting wetlands adjacent to rivers and streams, controlling invasive weeds, teaching about watershed stewardship in the greater community and entering and analyzing data. Alan Brackney, a four-year volunteer with Streamkeepers and another fish and wildlife biologist/environmentalist, is one of those people who enjoys the data analysis part of the job. Chadd likes to describe the volunteers as “picky people.” Brackney, he said, corrects mistakes and is very precise. Streamkeepers trains volunteers to assess a variety of biological, physical and chemical stream health indicators through a quarterly monitoring program. Monitoring includes the biological (stream bugs), chemical (temperature, pH, turbidity) and physical (gradient, erosion) health of a stream or creek. They use some fairly fancy equipment to accomplish this monitoring process.

One such instrument is called the ProDSS, a handled multi-parameter water quality meter. The portable water quality meter is capable of measuring all critical water quality parameters, including turbidity (how muddy the water might be) and depth. The information collected can be downloaded into a computer for further analysis. That’s where folks like Brackney come in. “This new probe holds a lot of data that can be downloaded right into a database,” he said, while scrolling through pages of data on his computer. One of Nattinger’s many responsibilities includes maintaining and calibrating the new ProDSS water quality meter. Here is an example of one Streamkeepers project: In August 2008, Clallam County began working on a project to develop a comprehensive stormwater management plan, facilitated by a grant from the Environment Protection Agency. The grant focuses on the Sequim area, which, according to the county, is experiencing the most rapid development within the county, and which is undergoing pollution-cleanup plans under both state shellfishing regulations and the federal Clean Water Act. The county’s goal is a comprehensive stormwater management plan for the entire county. Under the EPA grant, Streamkeepers coordinated stormwater monitoring activities through 2011, in partnership with the Jamestown S’Klallam tribe. During 2008-09, Streamkeepers conducted a pilot study with several components, including an examination of stormwater-borne pollutants in surface water, with the state Department of Ecology providing technical assistance and laboratory analysis.


Ed Chadd demonstrates a water quality meter. Chadd, program coordinator of Streamkeepers of Clallam County, has been with Streamkeepers since it was created in Clallam County in 1999. Photo by Mary Powell

When looking at the location of rivers and the amount of streamflow in rivers, the key concept is the river’s “watershed.” What is a watershed? A watershed is an area of land that drains all the streams and rainfall to a common outlet, such as the outflow of a reservoir, mouth of a bay, or any point along a stream channel. The word “watershed” is sometimes used interchangeably with drainage basin or catchment. Ridges and hills that separate two watersheds are called the drainage divide. A watershed consists of surface water — lakes, streams, reservoirs and wetlands — and all the underlying ground water. Larger watersheds contain many smaller watersheds. It all depends on the outflow point; all of the land that drains water to the outflow point is the water-


•  Use earth-friendly products. At home and on the river, use biodegradable cleaning products and earthfriendly body products. •  Load it up. When using your washing machine or dishwasher, wash a full load, as it uses less water due to the volume the clothes and dishes take up. Turn off auto-dry and open up the dishwasher to let the dishes air dry. •  Time your showers. At 5 gallons per minute, a 10-minute shower uses 50 gallons of water. If you drank 1 gallon of water per day, that’s 50 days’ worth of water down the drain in 10 minutes! •  Turn off the water. When you brush your teeth, shut off the water as you brush, or fill a cup with water to use so that perfectly good water doesn’t go straight down the drain, wasted. •  Turn off lights. When not in use, turn off your lights and unplug electronics chargers. Energy production requires water to cool thermal power plants and for extraction, transport and processing in fuel production. •  Participate in “Meatless Mondays.” Not only does it give you variety and creativity in your meals, but it saves water. It takes about 600 gallons of water to make a hamburger patty due to the amount of water used to grow feed crops and water cattle. •  Pick up trash and litter. Toss it in the recycling or garbage cans. Lots of trash is washed down storm sewers and ends up back in rivers. Source: Friends of the River

shed for that outflow location. Watersheds are important because the streamflow and water quality of a river are affected by things (human-induced or not) happening in the land area “above” the river-outflow point. Clallam County crosses four watersheds: the Hoh-Quillayute, Hood Canal, Dungeness-Elwha and Crescent-Hoko. By comparison, Jefferson County crosses seven watersheds: Hoh-Quillayute, Queets-Quinault, Lower Chehalis, Skokomish, Hood Canal, Puget Sound and Dungeness-Elwha.

Spring 2018 Living on the Peninsula


“I never thought the program would last more than two years, but here we are.” — Ed Chadd It is within these boundaries that Streamkeepers do their work. Streamkeepers of Clallam County focus most of their time from McDonald Creek to Salt Creek, according to Chadd. The impetus for maintaining clean rivers, streams and creeks intensified with the Clean Water Act, first enacted in 1948, and reorganized and expanded in 1972. The act established the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States and regulating quality standards for surface waters. Under the Clean Water Act, the Environmental Protection Agency implemented pollution control programs, such as setting wastewater standards for industry and water quality standards for all contaminants in surface waters.

Thus the extreme importance of organizations like Streamkeepers of Clallam County. Alongside the Clean Water Act, Washington required counties to maintain clean watersheds. “If not for Streamkeepers, we wouldn’t be able to do that,” Chadd said. “We wouldn’t have the data to determine the health of our streams.” Chadd, along with his cohorts, is a strong champion of waterways and watersheds and is proud of Streamkeepers work. He argues the Clallam County Streamkeepers program is unique, “probably like no other in the state. Clallam County has never been under a state mandate.” Over the years, many programs have been started to engage the public in environment causes. Many volunteers


Streamkeepers trains new volunteers once a year. Annual training takes place over several evenings and two Saturdays between June and September. The training schedule will be out by mid-May. You can always join Streamkeepers prior to formal training and learn to perform some of the procedures “on the job.” For more information, visit, phone 360-417-2281 or email have been trained using the Streamkeepers methodology and, as such, are able to monitor and evaluate stream conditions and alert authorities when there are problems with local streams Healthy rivers and waterways are critical for supporting life on Earth. They are especially necessary in light of the additional stresses that climate change

will have on river-dependent communities and ecosystems. “I never thought the program would last more than two years, but here we are,” Chadd said. To learn more about Streamkeepers of Clallam County or to volunteer, visit, email streamkeepers@ or call 360-417-2281. 

Coleman Byrnes and Sue Nattinger collect bug samples. Byrnes and Nattinger are part of the bug-sorting team; collecting “stream bugs” helps assess the overall health of the area’s small streams. All photos courtesy of Streamkeepers of Clallam County.

From left, Jim McCullough, Robert Buck, Janet Bruening, Coleman Byrnes and Zack Hovis process a bug sample taken out of Jimmycomelately Creek.

Volunteer Sarah Miller pulls a water sample from Hurd Creek.

18 Living on the Peninsula Spring 2018

IN CARE OF COHO EAGLE CREEK SPRINGS EFFORTS CONTINUE By Christi Baron Photos provided by David Hahn For most people, the majority of their relationships come and go, a few are long-lasting and some are strong enough to last a lifetime. For one West End family, a relationship with a small waterway that occupies a place on property owned by three generations is as strong as the ever. The Conkey-Smith family bought their ranch — now known as Eagle Creek Springs — off Mary Clark Road near Sappho in 1937. According to third-generation tenant David Hahn, his ancestors lived in Neah Bay in a shack down the coast at Starbuck Beach during the Great Depression. “They would hike down there and stay and pan for gold until they had enough money to buy the ranch for a dollar an acre, paying back taxes to the county,” Hahn said. “You could have bought all of the land down to Beaver for a dollar an acre back then.” Hahn added, “So we have been here since 1937, watching Eagle Creek and the Sol Duc River.”

David Hahn, left, works with another volunteer to reload triangles. Completed triangles are placed in the creek, providing a fish cover from birds and acting as a heat shield in the hot summer months.


The care for Eagle Creek Springs has always been a family obligation. “My grandma would take all of the kids to see the summer salmon and explain how important they were to the forest and the river,” Hahn said. “We could see the changes to the salmon runs,” he said, adding, “80 years of living and watching the creek and the river is a long time.” Hahn started a private/public partnership with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) in 1998. The Eagle Creek Springs undertaking started out as a salmon habitat and restoration project. WDFW abandoned the Eagle Creek Project in 2008 because of state budget cuts, and the project was turned over to Pacific Coast Salmon Coalition (PCSC) to monitor, along with more than 40 other sites that also were abandoned. “Last year, I was asked to get a permit for the project,” Hahn said. “I had a few abandonment issues over that one. A five-year permit for $150 on something I have been doing for free for 18 years! In the end, the permit was purchased with help from donations.” PCSC showed Hahn some of its on-going projects and put him in contact with a group of people inside the WDFW who worked on salmon habitat restoration. “This project is about enhanced habitat for salmon. We don’t raise salmon here. We don’t feed salmon here. We provide a safe environment for salmon that gets boosted by nutrient enhancement and bird protection. What we try to do is boost their odds of survival during their stay in the creek.”

Hahn continued, “Why do we do this? I really don’t have an answer except it’s the right thing to do. We don’t receive any funding. After the budget cuts of 2008, we have operated as a volunteer-driven project. We don’t even get a tax break on the land we gave up for salmon. “Nobody told the salmon the project was over. As long as salmon continue to return to Eagle Creek Springs, we will continue to host them. When we need help, we ask for PCSC and if its bigger, we have Boy Scout Troop 1539 that comes out every year in June.” Boy Scout Troop 1539 is from Silverdale. The troop comes out every summer to work on salmon habitat and has been helping out for the past six years.


The ranch has a no-kill policy. It’s operated as a family trust, and even the beavers get to live there for free. To discourage beavers from blocking culverts, a trail camera is used. The flash from the camera works most of the time to make beavers drop branches and run away. This will work for a while until they start using the culvert to bring branches up the fish ladder. “Beavers never stop,” Hahn said. In the spring, it is all out war. It’s been that way for three generations of family and countless generations of beaver. The creek acts like a wildlife magnet because of the enhancements that came from the project.

These coho salmon fry will spend a year in Eagle Creek. Wild coho salmon come into the creek starting in November and stay through January. Hahn has counted six bald eagles this year, plus many other birds. Red-tailed hawks also feast on wild coho salmon. For the project to coexist with the birds and other wildlife, the volunteers have had to come up with some tricks. Floating triangles are one of the ideas volunteers brainstormed to solve the problem of bird attacks.

Spring 2018 Living on the Peninsula


“Our project at Eagle Creek Springs in not a hatchery project or a rearing pond. It’s a habitatenhancement project meant to provide the best habitat available.”

This is the culvert installed by WDFW in 1999. At the time, it was only the third type installed with a builtin fish ladder. “The beavers love to block it up in the springtime, and we are required by law to keep it open as a salmon passage, so it’s very labor-intensive and not such a great idea,” Hahn said. “We tried it out and watched it work,” Hahn said. “If you look at a hatchery, you will see these big nets over the ponds to protect the fish. No way we are doing that here. The birds have just as much right to be there as the salmon. So we find ways to protect more salmon.” The triangles are black ABS pipe at the base of the float with a lot of freshly cut spruce or fir tree branches attached to it. Completed triangles are placed in the creek, providing fish cover from birds and acting as a heat shield in the hot summer months. They collect bugs and nutrients, too. Underwater pictures Hahn has taken show small coho salmon lined up in the shade of the triangles. Red-winged blackbirds nest every year in the spring and use the triangles as a food source. One of Scout Troop 1539’s tasks each year is reloading these triangles.

— David Hahn

When Boy Scout Troop 1539 of Silverdale shows up to help, they bring their own flag pole. “Inviting these guys out is the best deal I ever made,” Hahn said. “I have another Boy Scout troop from Port Angeles that will start coming out in March, going to work on storm damage.”


“The primary mission at Eagle Creek Springs is to improve the survival rate of native salmon while they are in the creek,” Hahn said. “A salmon has six stages of their life cycle. They spend four of those stages in the creek, so if we can improve the rate of survival here, it should mean more adults returning to spawn.” Hahn said wild coho returning to

Eagle Creek Springs in 2017 included 52 female spawning redds. For an 800-footlong creek, that a very good return and equates to about 156,000 coho salmon eggs. Hahn also is a citizen representative for Clallam County on the North Pacific Coast Lead Entity Committee (NPCLE). This puts him in contact with biologists for WDFW and United States Forest

20 Living on the Peninsula Spring 2018

Service (USFS). The last 200 feet of Eagle Creek Springs is inside the boundary of the Olympic National Forest. The best spawning ground and the springs flow from here, so Hahn also interacts with USFS officials and is working on getting another 60 cubic yards of spawning gravel for this area. “Our project at Eagle Creek Springs is

not a hatchery project or a rearing pond. It’s a habitat-enhancement project meant to provide the best habitat available,” Hahn said. Salmon that end up at Eagle Creek are free to come or go as they please, just like all the other creatures that call this waterway home.  Christi Baron is the editor of the Forks Forum.


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Freeing a river, reshaping a shore

Researchers see enlivened Elwha through recent fish studies

By Diane Urbani de la Paz Walk out here, and you forget everything else. There’s a new everything: a prairie of sugar-soft sand, a wide-bending blue river, a lone surfer atop a Pacific wave. This is the west delta of the Elwha River, the place where it opens out into the Salish Sea. Nine miles from downtown Port Angeles, it’s north of state Highway 112, the Strait of Juan de Fuca Scenic Byway. This is a meeting place for fresh and salt water, bald eagles and hooded mergansers, smooth pebbles and driftwood. “It’s a pretty powerful place,” said Anne Shaffer, executive director and lead scientist with the Coastal Watershed Institute. “People come out here to heal.” Shaffer has visited the banks of the Elwha since she was a girl. She grew up in Yakima, the daughter of a World War II veteran who came home suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. The family would come to the Olympics in search of peace. They found it. “The shorelines of the Olympic Peninsula were a refuge for my dad and a place of rest for my mom,” she said. “They are central to my core as well.” Shaffer grew up to be a habitat biologist and was a young woman when, in 1992, Congress passed the Elwha River Ecosystem and Fisheries Restoration Act. This was the legislation to remove the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams, freeing the river. It took nearly two decades before the dams came down. The $325 million project, whose collaborators include the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe, Olympic National Park, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Geological Survey, became the largest endeavor of its kind in the world. The Elwha restoration is a careerspanning project for Shaffer. In spring 2017, she completed her doctoral dissertation on ecosystem recovery after large dam removal at the University of Victoria. Today her research homes in on the nearshore, the place of interface. She and

A surfer has the run of the Salish Sea near the Elwha River mouth. Photo by Diane Urbani de la Paz her interns from Peninsula College are studying this river of life — especially the fish. They range from surf smelt and sand lance to chinook, coho and chum salmon. Shaffer and crew use beach seines, big nets that corral the fish, to count and release them. “We’re using fish as a metric,” she said, to study the Elwha drift cell, that section of shoreline where sand has formed beaches, from Freshwater Bay to Ediz Hook. Shaffer and crew have a kind of staging platform — “It’s gorgeous,” she often says — at the new beach off Place Road. Here are 80 acres of land, formed by the sand brought down by the undimmed river. The beach, while surrounded by private property, state Department of Natural Resources land and Lower Elwha Klallam tribal land, has become a summertime magnet for hundreds of visitors. The Coastal Watershed Institute, meanwhile, receives restoration funding from federal and state offices including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the state Recreation and Conservation

Office. Patagonia Inc. and donations from other private entities provide money for research and community outreach. The hope, Shaffer said, is that this research will inform not only the management of the ecosystem here but also the restoration work following dam removals around the world. During the removals themselves, “We got this big spike in everybody,” as in all fish species, Shaffer said. The numbers were up, a bit like the spike in customers at a brand-new restaurant in a big city. The fish were discovering, naturally, that they could suddenly go somewhere they hadn’t before. The surges have leveled off since. Numbers and species continue to fluctuate. All of this — the bluffs, the beach, the path of the river — is a geologic event, an evolution happening in front of us. “We are only at the beginning,” Shaffer said, of the post-dam recovery. Amidst it all, Shaffer’s team uses chum salmon as one messenger. “They start coming out in January, and we see them till June. Then they’re gone.

We haven’t seen a change in the chum. It’s still early,” she said. “We need to give them time to come back and spawn, come back and spawn.” Upriver, crews coordinated by Olympic National Park, the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe, NOAA, the U.S. Geological Survey and the federal and state fish and wildlife agencies are also watching the recovery take place. Their activities include sonar surveys, smolt trapping to see how many young fish are going to sea, radio telemetry surveys of how fish use the watershed, and biological sampling of returning fish. Snorkelers dive in, too. They conducted surveys back in 2007 and 2008 before dam removal; last year, they returned. Clad in felt shoes and dry suits, they surveyed the waters — which go from 65 degrees down to 45 — through Carlson Canyon, Hayes River, Mary’s Falls, Geyser Valley, Glines Canyon and Fishermen’s Bend. They found Endangered Species Actlisted Puget Sound chinook, steelhead and bull trout — all above the former Elwha Dam site.

Spring 2018 Living on the Peninsula


Anne Shaffer of the Coastal Watershed Institute pauses beside the Strait edge.

Adult summer-run steelhead were seen as far upstream as Godkin Creek, 7 miles from the Elwha’s headwaters. A total of 94 summer steelhead observations were made above Glines Canyon, while sightings of adult chinook continued to increase upriver from Glines. Snorkelers also sighted adult sockeye in Geyser Valley, the farthest-upriver observation of that species thus far. This summer, a team of biologists plans to survey 40 miles of riverscape for the first time since the dams were brought down. As these fish bring nutrients from the Pacific Ocean, they revitalize an entire ecosystem. From the headwaters to the mouth, life and landscapes will go on changing. Seren Weber, 29, a Coastal Water-

shed Institute intern, said the river is different every time she visits its delta. Her colleagues David Harvey, 23, and Tony Thompson, 27, find inspiration in their windswept surroundings. “It’s been eye-opening,” said Harvey, who hopes to become a geologist. “Plus, it’s just fun,” he said, to conduct scientific research in this open-air laboratory. For Thompson, the nearshore illustrates how all things are connected. Hearing this, Shaffer, who gives her age as “looking at 60,” remarked on her interns, whose own future depends on the tides of funding and governments. “They are so earnest and engaged — hope in a challenging time.” 

A PINCH OF PENINSULA Story and photo by Brenda Hanrahan Gram’s Lazy Sunday Drop Biscuits My late grandmother, simply known as Gram to most people, loved to get children excited about baking. Her recipes used simple ingredients and produced consistent results when followed correctly, making them perfect to teach youngsters an appreciation of baking.  Gram’s Lazy Sunday Drop Biscuits were made on frigid winter and cool, rainy spring Sundays when the unforgiving Kansas wind forced you to stay indoors. When Gram grabbed her giant green mixing bowl, I would start calling relatives and neighbors to inform them that Gram was making “the biscuits.”  Soon our kitchen was full of family and friends chatting about their weekend and passing around the newspaper while they waited for their biscuit to be ready. Gram’s old gas-powered oven warmed the kitchen, inviting people coming in from the cold to warm up while observing the choreography involved in making biscuits. Gram encouraged children in attendance to get involved in the biscuit-making process. An array of step stools were placed at the kitchen sink for hand washing and then spread along counters so children could reach ingredient canisters. Each child was in charge of adding an ingredient so no one felt left out. Older children were allowed to mix butter and buttermilk into the dry ingredients. Every child had an opportunity to drop a biscuit

on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Some used an ice cream scoop to create a more round biscuit, but most preferred to grab a handful of batter and simply drop it on the sheet. Children peered through the glass of the oven, giving reports on when the biscuits would be ready to the adults who started an informal line with a plate in hand around the 15-minute mark. Only 2 minutes until show time! Once biscuits were out of the oven, they were slathered with butter, homemade jams and jellies or honey from a farmer’s beehives down the road.  While Gram’s recipe made dozens of biscuits for a full house of people, the recipe below makes about a dozen. Ingredients 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 1 tablespoon baking powder 2 teaspoons natural cane sugar ½ teaspoon fine sea salt ¼ teaspoon baking soda 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 36 small pieces 1¼ cups of buttermilk NOTE: Natural cane sugar can be found in the baking aisle at most grocery stores. This sugar is minimally processed and produced solely from sugarcane. This type of sugar has slightly larger grains and a darker color. It helps make biscuits crisp on the outside while retaining that soft melt-in-your-mouth center that but-

24 Living on the Peninsula Spring 2018

termilk biscuits are known for. Directions Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit with a rack adjusted to an upper middle position.  Lightly stir flour, baking powder, natural cane sugar, fine sea salt and baking soda in a large, deep bowl.  Cut cold butter into small pieces with a butter knife and scatter over the dry ingredients. Rub the butter into the dry ingredients with your fingertips until smallto-medium pebble-size pieces appear. Pour buttermilk into the bowl and mix with your hands until it just comes together as a thick dough and there are

no visible signs of flour. Do not over mix the dough. This step should take no longer than a minute. Drop a dozen handfuls (about ¼ cup) onto an cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. (Note: parchment paper promotes even baking and reduces undesirable spreading during baking.) You can use an ice cream scoop for a more uniform shape.  Bake for 15 to 17 minutes until biscuits are a light caramel-brown on the bottom and around a portion of the edges.  Serve hot with butter, jam or honey. Leftover biscuits will keep for a few days when placed in an airtight container. 


NORTHWEST BEACHES: Dramatic storms, wildlife await you this spring season

Seabirds are a common sight at the northern end of Beach 4. Birds to watch for include black oystercatchers, cormorants, grebes, gulls and bald eagles. Story and photos by Brenda Hanrahan Visiting a Northwest beach in early spring doesn’t top to-do lists of many people because weather is often unpredictable. Even on sunny spring days, many people won’t risk venturing to coastal beaches due to fears weather will shift quickly to rain and wind once they reach the coast. Their fears provide more adventurous people an opportunity to stroll along area beaches awestruck by the rugged beauty of the Pacific Ocean without humanrelated distractions and interruptions. One of my favorite cool-weather activities is to walk along a beach following a storm to see what the ocean deposited along the shoreline. Almost 17 years after relocating from landlocked Kansas to the Olympic Peninsula, I am still searching for a Japanese glass float. I can spend hours at a time searching debris-covered shores in hopes of finally finding this treasure. During searches, I have found pieces of sea glass and an array of shells and cobbles that are proudly displayed in bowls and jars throughout our home. My husband teases me that I need to leave something for others to find as I show him my latest “too-specialto-leave-behind” treasure. Consulting a tide chart and checking the weather forecast is a must, especially this time of year. The same

elements that make our coast beautiful can quickly turn dangerous, so use caution, especially during high tides and on stormy days. Proper clothing is necessary, so wear your most trusted raincoat and quick-drying clothes and footwear. Gloves and a waterproof hat with a chin strap or a stocking cap are recommended on breezy days. Packing backup clothing and footwear is highly suggested because getting wet is just part of the beach experience, but staying wet after leaving the beach on a cool day is not appreciated.


Each spring, my husband and I try to schedule an overnight visit at a coastal lodge or resort to take a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life. If the weather turns, we take refuge in our cozy cabin. Many area coastal lodges and resorts offer off-season and “storm watcher” deals during winter and early spring to entice locals to enjoy a getaway. During our most recent storm watcher weekend at Kalaloch Lodge, 157151 U.S. Highway 101, about 34 miles southwest of Forks in Olympic National Park, we were treated to periods of sunshine and blue sky followed closely by sideways rain and amazingly strong wind gusts. Nestled in a comfy cabin perched along one of Kalaloch’s bluffs, we had a clear view of the power of

the Pacific Ocean. Waves crashed into sea stacks and off-shore rocks, and beach logs were thrown ashore with incredible force.


After the storm passed, we ventured to Beach 4 — one of my favorite easy-to-reach beaches in this region. Beach 4 is known for its interesting rock formations and tide pooling and birdwatching opportunities. Located between Kalaloch Lodge and Ruby Beach, the turnoff to Beach 4 is clearly marked. The trek to the beach starts in a paved parking lot. A short trail follows a small stream down to the ocean. Interpretive signs can be found along the trail to Beach 4. Just before the trail meets sand, you will cross a rustic footbridge. After crossing the bridge, take note of shale and sandstone rising from sand as you step onto the beach. These interesting layers of rock were tilted and folded as the Juan de Fuca Plate subducted. An informational sign explains how these rock layers were once sediment on the sea floor. There are several rocky outcroppings on the north end of the beach that provide great tide pooling opportunities. Beach 4 is lauded for having abundant and diverse tide pools. It is common to find purple sea stars, giant green anemones, mussels, barnacles, limpets, crabs and more hanging out, waiting for the tide to return.

Spring 2018 Living on the Peninsula


Watching a sunset at Beach 4 is a peaceful way to end a spring day. Remember tide pools host living organisms, so use care when exploring. Avoid stepping on the delicate creatures who reside here and do not pull, poke, prod or remove anything from pools. It is very easy to get distracted while exploring tide pools, so remember to watch for the returning tide and “sneaker waves.” Use caution before stepping on a new surface, as algae and seaweed can make rocks extremely slippery. Don’t leap from rock to rock.


We have always seen an abundance of sea birds at Beach 4. Black oystercatchers can be found exploring tide pools with their long, sharp, bright orange beaks for a snack while gulls, common murres and cormorants bob playfully in the surf. Bald eagles are often spotted soaring and returning to perches in trees on bluffs towering above the beach. During this visit, a few harbor seals seemingly played hide-and-go-seek with us to see what we were doing as we explored tide pools on one of the larger rocks. Views of Destruction Island Lighthouse are plentiful on a clear day from Beach 4. We have been lucky enough to see a gray whale spyhopping offshore. Sometimes whales lift their head and part of their chest vertically out of the water so their eyes are just above the water line — this is called spy-

26 Living on the Peninsula Spring 2018

hopping. It is believed that whales do this to take a look around above the water. In March, April and the early part of May, the Olympic Coast becomes a highway for thousands of gray whales migrating back to feeding grounds in the Bering, Chukchi and Beaufort seas from the breeding and birthing lagoons of Baja California in Northwestern Mexico. Gray whales are the most coastal of baleen whales and are often found within a half-mile of Washington’s shoreline. Gray whales feed by filling their vast mouths with mud from the sea bottom and filtering it through their baleen to capture amphipods and small animals. They are unique in that they prefer prey that live near or on the sea floor. On average, gray whales are 36 feet long, but can grow up to 50 feet long and weigh up to 40 tons. The protected habitat along the Peninsula’s coastline provides ample food sources for migrating whales, which is why they are spotted so close to our shore. Olympic National Park protects 65 miles of wild and rugged coastline. In addition, Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary includes 3,188 square miles of marine waters off the rugged Olympic Peninsula coastline. The sanctuary extends 25 to 50 miles seaward protecting a productive upwelling zone — home to marine mammals and seabirds.


•  Relax your eyes and slowly scan the ocean from left to right, then back again. Look close to shore, out on the horizon and in between. For a closer look, try a pair of binoculars or a camera with a telephoto lens. •  Look for the spout. Often, the most you see of a gray whale is the misty spray from its blowhole and the curve of its back as it dives underwater. Similar-colored waves make gray whales difficult to see. A sudden vertical mist is what will lead you to spotting a whale. •  If you spot a whale keep tabs on it for several miles as it swims. Migrating gray whales usually travel at about 5 mph and stay underwater for 3 to 5 minutes at a time. Gray whales are heading north in the spring so look in that direction. •  Be patient. Understand that it could take up to an hour to see a whale, and that you might not see one at all. Bring a picnic lunch and just enjoy the view. Even if you don’t see a whale, you are enjoying a relaxing day at the beach.

Along its shores are thriving kelp and intertidal communities, teeming with fishes and other sea life. Flattery Rocks and Quillayute Needles national wildlife refuges add further protection for wildlife off the Olympic coast. Each year, thousands of people travel to coastal towns on the Olympic Peninsula in hopes of spotting a gray whale during their migration. Popular and easy-to-reach viewing areas include beaches within the Kalaloch area, First Beach in La Push and Cape Flattery near Neah Bay. The Quileute tribe hosts the annual Welcoming the Whales Ceremony at First Beach in La Push to celebrate the gray

whale migration along our coastline. This year’s ceremony starts at 10 a.m. on Friday, March 30. Activities and a meal will occur at the Akalat Center in La Push starting at 1 p.m. The event is open to the public. For more information about the ceremony, visit or www. Don’t miss the beauty of spring along our coast. Whether you travel to the coast for a day hike, take advantage of a resort’s off-season special or plant yourself on a beach for a day in hopes of seeing a gray whale, you won’t be disappointed. 

Interesting rock layers can be found along the bluffs of Beach 4.

Brenda Hanrahan is a special sections editor at Peninsula Daily News.

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THE SHAPE OF WATER By Rev. Pam Douglas-Smith To sit in silence at the shore, watch the waves and hear the surf, is to appreciate the very breath and heartbeat of the earth. (Doe Zantamata) From the height of the Olympic Mountains sloping gently down through forested hills and arriving at the shores of the Salish Sea, the Olympic Peninsula abides in a realm blessed by the element of water. From shimmering streams where salmon spawn along the Hoh River to the warm mineral springs of the Sol Duc to the craggy beaches where land meets ocean at Cape Flattery to the gentle lapping of waves by Port Townsend’s Point Wilson Lighthouse, all are landscapes in which one can encounter the power and wonder of water. Our Earth, when seen from space, is predominantly shadings of deepest azure to palest turquoise with green land masses scattered all around in patterns formed through millennia of natural creation. Our planet thrives because it is overwhelmingly blessed with water. We in the Northwest live along the great sea mass once known by many names like Puget Sound and the Strait of San Juan de Fuca. It is now being called simply the Salish Sea. A name consciously chosen in honor of First Nations coastal tribes because their waters knew no boundaries. And so we, too, can see our waters and life energies flow with natural boundless freedom. It is fascinating that the human body has a similar presence of the element of water in its shaping. We are nourished by the flowing of water in our cells, in the space between our cells and in our bloodstream. This hidden stream of water enlivens

us, even before our birth. The Hopi call water “the first foundation of life” because we come forth into the world on a gush of water from within our mother’s womb. Our Earth also finds water as its foundational element as it is the first manifest form of density following the light in traditional creation stories. From ancient times to modern ones, the element of water has captivated and sustained us. In the Kabbalah when the unseen begins to take manifest shape, the gateway of Chaith Ha Kadesh is crossed. At this portal, the element of ether transforms into the four classic elements of water, earth, air and fire. Each one has its own unique characteristics and expressions, but water has the ability to shape-shift according to its environment. As liquid, it can flow from place to place while as ice it holds a density of form and then as steam it can hardly be seen once again. This ability to shift so easily from one form to another is why water metaphysically represents transformation and unlimited movement from the inner realms to the outer world. It resonates with the inner processes of the ebb and flow of life. It holds the mysteries of the depths of our consciousness that flow below the outer surface of our experiences. Water is the element of feeling, intuition and initiation. It carries us deeper within and then sends us outward on a wave of possibility. Water always seeks a way to express and move — rainfalls of tears or showers of blessings, droughts that open us to seek the nourishment of fresh water, floods that cause us to learn new ways to navigate our seas, and wells of replenishing water that inspire us when we taste the sweetness of life. This calls us to remember the universal power of water to move within and between us, to link the creative energies of life in constantly changing and evolv-

28 Living on the Peninsula Spring 2018

Sol Duc River. Photo by Brenda Hanrahan. ing ways. The depth of this connection has been explored by the scientist Masaru Emoto in his groundbreaking work “The Miraculous Messages from Water.” He created fascinating microscopic images of frozen water that show the interconnection of human vibrational energy, emotions and thoughts on the actual molecular structure of water. It revealed how the geometric light-filled crystals become dark and distorted when bombarded with pollution of many types, such as anger, chemicals and negativity. An amazing moment came when poisoned water from the Fujiwara Dam on the Tone River is Japan was simply blessed for an hour by a Bugghist monk, and the gray and chaotic images shifted quickly back into symmetry and light. Even our music affects the shape of the water crystals, with J.S. Bach’s harmonies evoking structural balance and the discordant tones of heavy metal rock resulting in cellular disorder. We physically can see how the very element of water links us with all of life. All of this abides in our world in ways that can transform us and our relationships with each other and with our planet. We can change the shape of our perceptions and responses “to find the secret paths no one else has thought about.”

Ours is a fitting time to welcome the latest Oscar film for Best Picture, Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water.” It invites us all to consider the power of water to transform us and unite us in creative possibilities engendered by love, compassion and an evolving sense of the oneness that forever flows between us. Let’s remember the gift of the powerfully hopeful words spoken by Giles, a pivotal companion to the heroine, at the film’s conclusion: If I told you about her, what would I say? That they lived happily ever after? I believe they did. That they were in love? That they remained in love? I’m sure that’s true. But when I think of her ­— of Elisa — the only thing that comes to mind is a poem, whispered by someone in love, hundreds of years ago: “Unable to perceive the shape of You, I find You all around me. Your presence fills my eyes with Your love, It humbles my heart, For You are everywhere.” Rev. Pam Douglas-Smith is the minister at the Unity Spiritual Enrichment Center in Port Townsend who leads international spiritual pilgrimages. Contact her at

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Living on the Peninsula is our award-winning, quarterly lifestyle magazine spotlighting the Olympic Peninsula’s true treasures – our people, places, climate and culture. In every issue, standing departments will treat readers to columns on seasonal recreation, health and fitness, arts and entertainment, food and spirits, spirituality, day-trip destinations and more. Each edition will focus on one common theme, uniting the peninsula from east to west while also celebrating each vicinity’s flavors.

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Special Sections - Living on the Peninsula Spring 2018  


Special Sections - Living on the Peninsula Spring 2018