Friends Notes

March Point Great Blue Herons

March Point Great Blue Herons

By Regan Weeks

In many ways, the Great Blue Heron is the iconic nearshore and tideland species for Skagit County.  They are present year-round, often found hunting little fish in the water or frogs and voles in our fields.  In part because of our many productive estuarine bays (Padilla, Similk, Fidalgo, Skagit) and our temperate climate, great blue herons seem to be more abundant in our part of the Salish Sea than anywhere else on the West Coast.

Herons are colonial nesters, and the March’s Point heron colony (located near the Whitmarsh Landfill) is thought to be one of the largest colonies on the West Coast, easily containing over 500 nests.  An exact count is not easy to get, because while the Skagit Land Trust owns 3.5 acres of the fir forest in which the colony is built, nests are also built on neighboring properties, and the Trust does not have full access. In 2016, T Bailey Inc. worked with Skagit Land Trust to place a conservation easement upon a portion of their property within the current heronry, protecting approximately 5.5 more acres (or a total of 9 contiguous protected acres.

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March Point "Whitmarsh" Landfill Cleanup

March Point "Whitmarsh" Landfill Cleanup

By Betty Carteret

The current cleanup site being addressed under the Anacortes Baywide Cleanup program by the Washington Department of Ecology’s Toxics Cleanup Program (Ecology) is the March Point (aka Whitmarsh) Landfill site.  The site is located on the southwest shore of Padilla Bay in an area that was originally a marsh that was filled in and reinforced with rip rap during installation of the railroad line into Anacortes that now only travels as far as the Tesoro Refinery on March Point.

The landfill site is on the old county highway now South March Point Road, which was the main road into Anacortes and other points on Fidalgo Island until the 1950s. The nearby intersection with East March Point Road was once known as Whitmarsh Junction shown in this 1930s era photo with its tavern and gas station located near the current site of the T Bailey fabrication plant.

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Anacortes Baywide Cleanup Update

Anacortes Baywide Cleanup Update

By Betty Carteret

Washington Department of Ecology in partnership with the Port of Anacortes, City of Anacortes, Samish Indian Nation, Swinomish and other local Tribes, and private landowners is making great progress in cleaning up contaminated shoreline areas in Anacortes along Fidalgo Bay, Padilla Bay, and Guemes Channel.  This cleanup work is bringing new life and energizing the economy of the Anacortes waterfront removing a legacy of toxic contamination from old mills, marinas, and waste sites.

The Anacortes Baywide Cleanup is the project that brings together cleanup work at the following sites under the State’s Puget Sound Initiative.  Projects are funded by a combination of sources including the Puget Sound Initiative, Model Toxics Control Act tax revenue, liable parties (corporations, businesses, governmental agencies, individual landowners), and grants.  Below is a summary of the status of cleanup work at these site and some links to other articles about the work.

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Climate Change in Haiku lecture

Over 100 people attended Friends of Skagit Beaches first lecture of 2016, "Climate Change in Haiku" by Dr. Gregory Johnson on Friday, January 15.  Dr. Johnson distilled the entire United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report into 19 illustrated haiku. His work of art provides powerful talking points and a visual guide to understanding this important document.

View the haiku and illustrations on the Sightline website. 

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Curtis Wharf - The Heart of the Working Waterfront

Curtis Wharf - The Heart of the Working Waterfront

By Jan Hersey

blog photo of Curtis Wharf ca. 1904, courtesy Anacortes Museum Wally Funk collection

First mapped by Spanish explorers in 1791, the swift, navigable channel between Fidalgo and Guemes islands has long been the heart of the Anacortes working waterfront.

The channel’s deep, natural harbor spurred Anacortes’ dream of becoming a major northwest maritime terminal, and the waterfront quickly became the nexus of local commerce, governing the flow of goods to and from the city.

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