Saturday, October 22, 2016

Point Roberts: International Trip, Palm Trees and Salmon

A trip to and from Point Roberts involves four international border crossings - all to do a job in my home county of Whatcom County.

You know you are in Canada when you see White Spots.

The border line at Point Roberts is typically not very long. Most of the folks crossing are Canadian as Point Roberts is a community where tax payers out number voters by a fair bit. That is much of the Point is owned by Canadian citizens.

Crossing back into Canada at Point Roberts I noted the palm tree adjacent to the sign. There are palms that can tolerate occasional freezes. This one has a jacket around its base in preparation for winter. Southwest BC has a very mild winter climate due to the ocean water and prevailing western storm pattern. The high Coast Range also effectively prevents continental air from reachimg the area most of the time. Southwest BC is Canada's Florida.

The oddity of Point Roberts being in the United States is that it protrudes south of the 49th parallel. One might think Why not give the small appendage to Canada? However, the Point is a hugely valuable United States resource. Salmon swimming towards the Fraser River along the southern route to the river swim through the Strait of Juan de Fuca up along the northwest Washington Coast into Boundary Bay and then hug the shore around Point Roberts.

First Nations caught salmon at this site for thousands of years. Salmon traps became industrialized in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The scale of the industry was huge and valuable.

Fish Trap maps at Lilly Point Park

The lack of regulation as well as habitat damage and destruction diminished salmon numbers. However, the Fraser salmon runs are still very valuable and United States waters off of the Point are still an important fishery.  

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