DAN HAMMOCK | GRAYS HARBOR NEWS GROUP
                                Gusts to more than 50 mph, a high tide of 10-plus feet and 13-foot offshore swells put the shoreline preservation efforts in North Cove to their first test of the season Nov. 26. The cobble protecting the eroding banks held up well according to local sources. This is a shot looking north toward Tamarack Street from the end of Old State Route 105.

DAN HAMMOCK | GRAYS HARBOR NEWS GROUP Gusts to more than 50 mph, a high tide of 10-plus feet and 13-foot offshore swells put the shoreline preservation efforts in North Cove to their first test of the season Nov. 26. The cobble protecting the eroding banks held up well according to local sources. This is a shot looking north toward Tamarack Street from the end of Old State Route 105.

North Cove shoreline protection efforts hold up well to first test of the season

  • Thu Dec 6th, 2018 1:30am
  • News

Fundraiser sidebar

A bake sale fundraiser to benefit shoreline preservation efforts in North Cove is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 8 at the North Willapa Harbor Grange.

Proceeds go toward the purchase of cobble rock, mostly from two local sources, as well as other expenses associated with storing and spreading the rock when and where needed.

The fundraiser is sponsored by Wash Away No More and the North Willapa Artist Community. Local bakers will have a large selection of goods on hand in this cranberry-producing part of the world, including cinnamon rolls, cranberry jam, cookies, pies, croissants, pretzels, hot soup, hot fudge and cranberry curd. There will also be Wash Away No More t-shirts, shopping bags, aprons and even rocks painted by local artists to support the efforts.

The sale runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The North Willapa Harbor Grange is located at 3198 State Route 105 in North Cove.

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The beach cobble peppering the shoreline along North Cove appears to have done its job protecting the shoreline from further erosion during the first big test of the year Nov. 26.

“I think our dynamic revetment’s performance earned a solid ‘A’ over the Thanksgiving weekend,” said David Cottrell, Pacific County Drainage District 1 commissioner. “It took a steady pounding through the storm and 10-foot tides that followed.”

Dynamic revetment involves using cobble rock mixed with driftwood and, at times, larger rock to protect eroding shorelines. The idea is waves crash into the smaller rock, which diffuses the energy of the waves and lessens the impact of the waves on the vulnerable oceanside banks. According to Cottrell, when waves crash into the cobble one can actually hear the rocks rattling, audible evidence of the rocks diffusing the impact of the waves.

“The cobbles were definitely shifting, rattling and rolling like they’re supposed to (Nov. 26), and still no significant land was lost,” said Cottrell. “In the handful of places where short stretches of upper bank were exposed by the shifting cobble, the erosion could be measured in inches rather than tens of feet like before the dynamic revetment was added.”

Wind gusts to more than 50 mph were recorded Nov. 26, combined with 13-foot offshore swells in the afternoon.

It was also noted that after the storm sand was deposited along the cobble on the beach that otherwise would have just washed back out to sea. That buildup of sand has been occurring in levels greater this year than in recent memory, which further helps protect the shorelines and the homes that still line them.

“The beach is gaining sand northwest of Tamarack (Street), covering some of our newly placed stones,” wrote Cottrell the day of the storm in response to a cabin owner who was out of the area that day asking, “How did all the hard work fare?” Cottrell continued, “Water barely reached the edge of the bank. Southeast of Tamarack the cobble was rattling with no land lost.”

Cottrell stresses the cobble is not a permanent answer to the drastic shoreline erosion issues that have cost this region hundreds of feet of shoreline over the past several decades. The idea is to limit erosion until a “100-plus-year solution” can be finalized. That final plan could involve cobble, and different areas of shoreline may require different solutions, he added, and in the meantime its an excellent, cost-effective defense.

“The beauty of cobble is that it’s easy to make repairs and adjustments whenever we need to,” wrote Cottrell on the Wash Away No More Facebook page — a page documenting the ongoing shoreline preservation efforts spearheaded by a resilient group of locals — beneath a post about how well the cobble held up during its first test of the year. “Every storm teaches us something new, and each time we fix it the shoreline becomes a little bit stronger.”

What’s next

“In the next couple weeks we’ll be working to extend the cobble northwest from the end of Blue Pacific Street and also to extend southwest from Tamarack Sreet to connect with Seamobile Road by Ron’s house on the rocks,” said Cottrell. “That will give us a mile and a quarter of continuous protected shoreline.”

Ron’s house on the rocks is the home near the end of Old State Route 105, which has withstood erosion due to massive efforts undertaken to surround the home with large rocks.

“We’ll also be beefing up southwest of Old State Route 105 where we get the greatest scour and where we took the most damage over Thanksgiving,” said Cottrell. “Our plan is to have everything tightened up in time for the next run of 10-foot tides over Christmas.”

The work doesn’t end there.

“After the Christmas high tides we’re planning to do another set of repairs and upgrades before the run of 11-foot tides in mid-January, and after that we’ll be doing more upgrades to be ready for the high tides of February,” said Cottrell. “By working in sync with the tide cycles like this, we’re seeing the shoreline getting stronger with each run of high tides and storms, rather than weaker.”

National exposure

The community effort recently caught the attention of an NBC Nightly News producer. A film crew was sent to the area and a segment featuring Cottrell, local residents and the revetment work finally aired Nov. 24. The segment can be viewed online at nbcnews.com/news/us-news/washaway-beach-fastest-eroding-place-west-coast-cobbles-together-solution-n930646?fbclid=IwAR3iPf8sGkm1vHHtfieaON5CWfbbpLCvWcNoZQg_E2JCGD4JvkU59oRI2Rk.

The theme of the NBC News piece was hope, something that had been lacking for homeowners in the area for decades but has made a resurgence in recent years, thanks to the work of Cottrell and others. Cottrell himself is cautiously optimistic.

“Of course I know better than to make any promises, but things are looking really good so far!”