Nov 25, 2017

#Bellingham #WA: My preference is more natural abundance of wildlife

My preference is more natural abundance of wildlife, no significant amount of public presence on the waterfront, and serious enforcement of legal regulations.

In attending Waterfront Futures meetings and submitting comments back around 2004, I hoped that the glorious waters, beaches and life of the shoreline could be rehabilitated, protected and repopulated with fish and other wildlife. It is ironic that The Granary formerly stored things such as feed for distribution elsewhere whereas currently the Port accepts incoming corn and soybeans from Turkey for feeding confined animals in Whatcom County. The horse is out of the barn now but I still believe Bellingham Bay and #SalishSea should be a marine reserve, not a duplication of Grays Harbor, Singapore, or Monaco.

Regardless, it is a blast zone in the event of a train disaster as well as a tsunami zone and an area subject to sea level rise! It is my impression that these three risks are practically inevitable. Moreover having the public cross the tracks via Laurel Street seems as unsafe to me as drunks and drug addicts walking across the tracks near Lighthouse Mission.

There should be higher numbers of wild species on the Bellingham waterfront. During my most recent visit to the #SouthBayTrail and #BoulevardPark, I saw just five Trumpeter Swans in flight while I was walking the trail, a few Western Grebe near Shell Beach, and what I guess was a family of Harbor seals in #BellinghamBay trying to fend off gulls while they caught fish. On Instagram, I saw someone's great photo of an owl standing on the trestle railing near Wharf Street. There should be huge numbers of critters such that all of us in our everyday wanderings would experience many more sightings than currently happens (search results for "decline of birds 2017").

If money for humans is the only driver, then consider the tourism dollars that would ensue from a natural, well-protected bay. The many rich out-of-towners who flock to Whatcom County for marathons, beer and other festivals, mountain biking and hiking, windsurfing, honeymoons, and so on would increase in number and spending if some peacefulness, fresh air and water, and populations of birds, salmon and whales were restored. Ports that handle such things as logs and corn already exist in WA. Big residential complexes won’t solve the human overpopulation problem. Healthy estuaries and seas are rare commodities now and will be more valuable in the future.

As for public parks along waterfronts, it is fraught with human threats to wildlife. Some members of the public behave badly, some are oblivious, and some are cruel. Over the years residing near the South Bay Trail I have occasionally heard fireworks and/or gunfire. Often there are dumped shopping carts. The other day I noticed three loose stringed balloons floating down from WWU area towards the waterfront. In my observations of people at Boulevard Park and elsewhere, there is tragically no shortage of legal violations that harm wildlife.  

One time at Taylor Dock there was a very still sea lion on the dock; I contacted the proper authorities, and waited for them to arrive meanwhile trying to keep people from disturbing him/her. This past summer I saw glass and plastic strewn at Shell Beach which turned out to have been deliberately planted there by a teacher who wanted to give her group of little kids some sort of scavenger hunt type experience. At Boulevard Park, there is feeding bread to birds, throwing rocks into the bay, vagrancy, and people who don't pick up after their dogs. I have seen little kids smash crabs to death for fun with no discouragement from their parents or group leaders. I've seen kids at Boulevard Park lift critters out of the water and carry them around and even suggest taking them back home to Canada or wherever. The BNSF-owned wetland near the trestle and Wharf Street has been the scene of campfires, littering and more.

On October 3, 2017 I was sad to receive the following reply from a neighborhood compliance officer:
"Good Morning Liz,
Just fyi, there's no way I can get that shopping cart. It's just me. So if you see these types of things tossed over a cliff or a wall, that's where they are staying unfortunately.
If you see someone suspicious looking, peeking in doors and in unauthorized areas, call 911 so we can send someone out immediately.
We have a large crew doing cleanup along that trail tomorrow.
Anything in BNSF area we are not allowed to clean or even go onto to investigate. You'll have to contact them directly. It's a security issue for them.