Birch Bay Watershed & Aquatic Resources Management District

March 2023 - Special Edition
Quarterly Newsletter with Birch Bay Watershed Updates

Birch Bay Photo Contest
Image containing information about the Birch Bay Photo Contest from February 15-March15. Small photos of each category: Birch Bay at sunset, a fun community event, a local arcade, smiling faces at a beach clean up, and a blue heron.

Do you have good-quality photos taken in Birch Bay? BBWARM and the Birch Bay Chamber are looking for photos to use in our community outreach materials.  Winners will each receive a prize pack with offerings from local Birch Bay businesses. We will choose one winner for each of the following categories:

  • Scenery (e.g. Birch Bay at sunset)
  • Events & Activities (e.g. flying kites at the kite festival, digging clams with your family)
  • Local Businesses (e.g. ice cream at The C Shop)
  • Stewardship (e.g. cleaning the beach, planting native landscaping at home)
  • Wildlife (e.g. marine life during low tide)

Photo submission form: https://forms.gle/EQqXmxeq15X2kfYTA 

Terms and Conditions of Participation: 

  • Eligibility: 
    • Photos entered into the Birch Bay Photo Contest must be from Birch Bay, Washington. Entries will be accepted between February 15th and March 15th, 2023. 
  • Participation: 
    • Photos must be high quality for printing, with good lighting and composition. If there are people’s faces in your photo, please only include yourself and/or family members who have given consent to the Photo Use Agreement. Photos containing faces of people other than family members will be disqualified, as they cannot be used in outreach materials.
    • Photos will be judged in five categories: scenery, events & activities, local business, stewardship, and wildlife. 
    • Whatcom County and Birch Bay Chamber staff will select one winner for each category. The winners will be announced by March 29th, 2023. Each individual is only eligible to win one prize pack. Winners will be notified by e-mail. Prizes will be available for pickup at the Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce.
    • Photos submitted may be used in future outreach and education materials, including but not limited to posters, flyers, websites, and e-newsletters. 
If you have any questions please email SWVolunteer@co.whatcom.wa.us 
Sea Level Rise and Shoreline Properties
Article originally published by the Northwest Straits Foundation
Three images of shoreline flooding

As a shoreline property owner it is important to understand how to protect your home from coastal flooding or sea level rise. Often times this can lead homeowners to consider hard armoring methods that disrupt natural ecosystems and tend to be difficult to permit and expensive to install. However, in the majority of cases, natural shorelines or soft shore protection is the preferred type of protection again the effects of climate change and sea level rise. The Shore Friendly program has gathered some useful information to help shoreline property owners understand predicted sea level rise outcomes in their area and weigh the protection benefits of choosing soft armoring over hard armoring.  

Understanding Predictions 

Knowing the future tide predictions in your area can be useful for understanding what type of impacts your shoreline property might incur as a result of sea level rise. National Ocean and Atmospheric Association has a great tool for this and can be found here. Many local planning departments are also working on implementing climate change resiliency plans for each county. Contact your city or county’s planning department to find out more.  

Understanding Your Options 

Installing hard armoring to protect your shoreline home can be expensive and a permitting hassle, not to mention the bulkheads require continual maintenance thus are a temporary fix to a long-standing problem. In some cases, high tides will overtop armoring with no exit route for the water, thus increasing flooding behind the bulkhead, exacerbating erosion and drainage issues while also damaging the bulkhead. The armoring also locks up sand and sediment preventing natural movement along the beach.  

Natural shorelines are preferred, however, where feasible, soft shore options can help abate the effects of climate change and sea level rise. Soft shore techniques, such as beach nourishment, log placement, and native vegetation including large trees and shrubs allow the area to “deform and reform in response to natural processes…and they can naturally move up and down the shoreline rather than be overtopped” (Miller et. al., 2022). Therefore, soft shore options offer a degree of self-adaptation to changing sea levels. The figure below shows the contrasting ecosystem effects of a natural shoreline and an armored shoreline during predicted future tide levels otherwise known as “The Coastal Squeeze.” 

Cartoon depiction of "The Coastal Squeeze"

Understanding Your Resources 

The Shore Friendly Program offers free site visits to help shoreline property owners make informed decisions when it comes to preparing your property for future conditions. Additional assistance with design, permitting, and implementation of solutions is also available to qualified landowners through a cost-share program. Follow this link to sign up for a site visit today or visit our website to learn more.  

The Shore Friendly Program also offers free educational workshops throughout the Northwest Straits Region. There are currently three workshops scheduled in Snohomish, Clallam, and Skagit counties with more being scheduled. The current series of workshops will cover the drivers and impacts of coastal erosion, how sea level rise can intensify coastal erosion, and strategies and adaptations to prepare for future conditions. Interested shoreline homeowners can sign up at nwstraitsfoundation.org.  


Miller, I., Faghin, N., and Fishman, S. 2022. Sea Level Rise and Management Options for Washington’s shorelines. A collaboration of Washington Sea Grant and the Washington Department of Ecology. Prepared for the Washington Coastal Resilience Project.

Other BBWARM News and Resources:

Upcoming events: 

  • Whatcom Farm Expo - Saturday, March 4, 2023: Mark your calendars for the seventh annual FREE Whatcom Farm Expo at the Northwest Washington Fairgrounds in Lynden from 9am to 2pm. This event will include hands-on exhibits demonstrating the latest in agricultural innovations, products and services, as well as seminars by local veterinarians, financial advisors, and horticulturalists. Check out the WCD website for details.  
  • 30th Annual Native Plant Sale & Celebration (in-person sale Saturday, March 18, 2023): The annual native plant sale is in its final week of pre-orders with only half of the species left! If you wish to pre-order, make sure to check out our remaining items before the March 3rd deadline: www.whatcomcd.org/plant-sale  Sold out of the plant you were looking for, or looking for smaller quantities? Come to the in-person sale & celebration March 18th at Pioneer Park in Ferndale! All species will be available!  
Please share this newsletter with your neighbors!
What is BBWARM? 
The Birch Bay Watershed and Aquatic Resources Management (BBWARM) District is the stormwater management district for the Birch Bay watershed managed by the Whatcom County Public Works Stormwater Division and a citizen advisory committee.  BBWARM was established by the Whatcom County Council to address citizen concerns about water quality, flooding, and the loss of aquatic habitat.  Visit our website to learn about BBWARM programs, history, and funding.  

Copyright © 2023 Whatcom County, All rights reserved.

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