Teaching about the beach

Published on Thu, Aug 16, 2001 by Jack Kintner

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Teaching about the beach

By Jack Kintner

Jerry Larson, a life-long Birch Bay resident, pointed to an old fir tree on the beach and said “That’s where Vancouver first stepped ashore in 1792 and named this Birch Bay.”

Larson was out that day for “Beach Watch,” a volunteer program sponsored by the non-profit environmental education organization “RE Sources.” He combines his life experience and knowledge of local history with the 14 hours of training RE Sources furnishes in beach biology and geology to become a walking encyclopedia for anyone wishing to talk with him, and many do.

Some of the questions the 24 volunteers have encountered so far: how do barnacles reproduce? Why are there so many different colors of rocks on the beach, all the same size? What happens if I dig clams but don’t fill in the hole afterward? Does creosote on old telephone poles ever dry out? Is it OK to take things home from the beach?

The best way to find answers to these questions is to go to Semiahmoo County Park, Birch Bay State Park or the Birch Bay “city beach” north of the state park this weekend from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. and ask a beach watcher, identifiable by a tan hat and white plastic bucket. You may be intrigued enough to sign up for next year’s program and become a beach watch volunteer yourself. You can’t beat the job for location.

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