Friday, November 15, 2013

Trip Out Ediz Hook, Port Angels

I previously posted a short note on sediment and the Elwha Dams removal elwha-sediment-and-shoreline. For shoreline sediment folks the dam removal is a very exciting opportunity. Sediment sinks behind dams have significant impacts to coastal shoreline processes all over the world. The net shoreline drift at the Elwha is decidedly to the east towards Port Angeles and Ediz Hook. 
Ediz Hook with Port Angeles
The Hook forms an amazing wide and protected harbor as it effectively blocks ocean waves and swells coming in the Strait of Juan de Fuca from the west. I was out in Port Angeles this week and had a bit of early morning time to head out onto the Hook. A well worthwhile drive or run or bike ride. There is some good shoreline processes to observe, but plenty of other stuff as well including birds, a large feral cat population and up close look at a paper mill.
The initial part of a trip onto the Hook passes right through a paper mill.
Nippon Paper Industries USA

Bear in mind that seventy years ago the Strait of Juan de Fuca was lined with long range cannons to avoid a Japanese attack as a reminder of how fast change can happen.

While the big picture of Ediz Hook is shoreline drift and sediment from the Elwha, there are smaller scale shoreline processes. Just before the paper mill a brackish tidal inlet has just enough fetch to erode the unprotected east shore of the inlet.

The road out to the hook passes between the buildings and drive yards of the paper mill. Speed limit is 15 mph and there is a stop sign and speed bumps.

Paper rolls in a warehouse

A bit beyond the warehouse is a shoreline restoration site where treated wood and concrete were removed and the shoreline was lined with logs and new imported clean gravel. The idea was to improve habitat and to stop erosion towards the road. The harbor waters are large enough that erosion does take place on the inside of the Hook. And when big waves hit the outside of the Hook and over top the spit, the over wash can cause erosion as well if no sediment is transported over the rock break water lining the outer edge of the Hook. 

The project was completed about one and a half years ago so the vegetation is just getting established. The site is likely being monitored to see what works and what does not. I will say I like the bright yellow flowers blooming in mid November.

The north side of the Hook is where the high energy big waves work against the spit. With the loss of sediment from the Elwha this land form which was already rather thin has become susceptible to erosion. The morning I was there the water was calm and the tide was out.

It will be a long time before sediment from the Elwha River begins rebuilding the spit again. And even then, keeping such an ephemeral land form locked in place will likely require continued engineering and maintenance. And given the high energy environment, it will require big rocks.
New rocks for keeping up the harbor protection
The view across the harbor to Port Angeles with the Olympic Mountains behind

1 comment:

Geoffrey Middaugh said...

Very interesting to a novice like me. I didn't know this part of the sound was armored during WWII. We are having this discussion with the Cornwall landing planning team at this time, and its highly technical.