Geography

It's funny how things that you used to do as a kid can change the course of people's lives. Myself, when my parents told me and my brothers and sisters that we were going to the cabin meant a week of solid fun. My family has a cabin up on Camano Island, which is about 20 minutes north of Everett, right off of the I-5 interstate. My family would go up there during the summer with my cousins and grandma, and go swimming when the tide was in, build sandcastles when the tide was out, only to have them washed away when the tide came back in, build forts with the new driftwood that came in each year, explore the wrecked ship down the beach in one direction from our cabin, and scour the dunes that were north of our cabin. The dunes were the best part going to the cabin. We would always try to get there by walking along the wood that had been washed up and once we got there, we would race up the hills and jump down into the sand pits below. Another things that we all used to love doing, were to see who had carved messages into the sides of the dunes. There were all sorts of messages, love message from husband to wife, boyfriend to girlfriend. ‘I was here' messages, and then there were simply names. That is what we always used to do. Every year, my two cousins, dad, three siblings and I would climb up into the dunes and carve our names into the wall using sticks. This was done over and over again for about 8-10 years. Over the last couple of years we did this we noticed that we could see a house at the top of the dunes. This was something that we never noticed before and when we asked my dad, he said that he never noticed it either. We thought nothing about it at the time, carved our names in the wall and went back to the cabin. Later on we heard from other people who lived up there that there was a big concern by the people who live in that house that all of the messages that people had carved along with the natural erosion of the hills has caused the hill side to be dangerously close to being pushed back far enough to where the house might fall down. This was very interesting to me as I didn't know anything about it and decided to find out what causes hills like that to erode, what can be done to help prevent erosion, and the process of obtaining these preventive measures.

Erosion is a process where time and other various elements contribute together to wear something away. Almost anything can be a victim of erosion: rocks, buildings, walls, roads, and even mountains can be suspect to erosion. Erosion can also be referred to as weathering. There are two different types of weathering: chemical and mechanical weathering. Chemical weathering usually consists in changing the chemical composition of the rocks while mechanical weathering breaks a mineral or rock away, but does not change its chemical makeup. (Chernicoff pg. 97) Some examples of chemical weathering are dissolution, oxidation, and hydrolysis. Examples of mechanical weathering are frost wedging, crystal growth, thermal expansion and contraction, mechanical exfoliation, abrasion, and root penetration.
Looking at the picture above and the surrounding elements, one could probably conclude that the erosion of the dunes can be attributed to frost wedging, abrasion, and crystal growth. Throughout the cold periods of the year, the rain has gotten into the cracks of rocks in the side of the dune and when frozen, expands and then dislodges or loosens rocks from the wall. Crystal growth can't really be seen in the picture above, but is more apparent near the base of the dune. The salt from the incoming waves of the tide ??? Abrasion also plays a major part in the erosion of the dunes. The environment of Camano Island is a windy climate, but because of this wind, rock particles are constantly being scraped together with other fragments. This is very apparent in the above photo, it is obvious where gusts of wind have caused scraping and the hillside looks as if someone took a cheese grater and ran it across the face of the dune. When I went up to the house and asked Mr. and Mrs. Skeel what their biggest concern was they responded, " We know that is it only a matter of time before nature takes it's course and our house is in danger of going over the edge. We knew that when we bought the house. What we didn't factor in was how much faster it would happen because of teenagers and kids putting things into the hillside." (Personal Interview. Mr. Skeel, 2004). Because of all these factors something has to be done soon or else Mr. and Mrs. Skeel will most likely be forced from their home.
There are many ways to help stop beach erosion. Unfortunately in this case, there are only a few and those won't be as effective due to the height and type of weathering that is occurring here. One thing that the Skeels could do to protect their home from erosion is put a concrete bulkhead at the base of the dune. (CITE) Now although this won't help with abrasion or frost wedging, it will prevent the crystal growth at the base of the dune and prevent waves lapping up against the base at high tides. The following picture shows a type of bulkhead that could be used that would be effective against the natural erosion of waves and crystal growth.
As shown above, this type of bulkhead is very effective against waves, logs coming in with the tide, and crystal growth caused by the salt water. I interviewed Jeff Hughes, an owner of one of these bulkheads about the prevention again the tide and he said, ". . .This is the most effective type of bulkhead we could use. We use to have a wooden bulkhead which was expensive but effective After a couple of years the wood started rotting out and became dangerous for the kids to walk on and play around. Also once the wood rotted out, termites began living in them which is a serious problem when you own a wooden cabin." (Personal Interview, Jeff Hughes. 2004) This option is definitely one that the Skeels should look into, because although expensive, it will keep the tide from washing away anymore of the base of the dune, and maybe with a sign posted to it that says, ‘Danger, Hill Unsafe' that might be enough to keep people from climbing up it and carving out more of the dune.
Now to be able to build a bulkhead there are a number of processes that one must go through. First, an owner must apply for a Shoreline Exemption Permit, then the owner must get a Department of Fisheries Permit, and then finally a building permit. To get the shoreline permit, the owner must apply to the Island County Planning Department. This permit insures that all applicable regulations, environmental restrictions and government requirements are met. When I asked my father about this process when we decided on our bulkhead and the process of obtaining permits he replied ". . .we had archeologists come and make sure there were no Indian artifacts or remains in the building area. This was because of previous reports that there have been Indian remains discovered along the beach. . . " (Personal Interview, John Besagno. 2004). Once the owners receive preliminary approvale to build the bulkhead, then they must apply to the Deparment of Fisheries to make sure the building of the bulkhead doesn't affect any of the fisheries found along the beach, ". . . there are certain times of the year that property owners aren't allowed to build along the beach because of endagnerment of juvenile salmon. This time of the year is usually between mid-March through the end of June." (John Besagno. 2004) Once owners obtain approval from the Department of Fisheries, finally the Shoreline Exemption Permit is issued. Once this permit is issued, owners can apply to the Island County Building Department for a Building Permit. This permit verifies construction plans and complies with all local building codes and restrictions. After the building permit is issued, owners are granted one year to build. If their current project is not completed within this this year, owners must go through the whole process again.
After researching the different types of preventive measures that the Skeels could use to help the dune below their house from eroding away, I called them and discussed what I thought would be the right choice for them to make. After we talked they understood better the choice to build a bulkhead to protect the base of the dune and help keep people off the side of the dune. They told me that they had looked into building a bulkhead, but never really went into great depths to research it. But after I looked into it and reassured them that that would be the most appropriate choice the told me that I had reconfirmed what they had thought and told me that they were going to look into it further and most likely build a bulkhead. It's funny isn't it? When you're young you never think that the things that you do will cause that big of an impact, and usually the things that do, years later it too late to rectify the situation. Luckily for me, I was able to understand better the idea of erosion and do something about the natural process that I helped speed up so long ago.http://www.oppapers.com/essays/Geography/56657

Geography 9.3 of 10 on the basis of 3505 Review.