Moon over ocean: Taylor Beach July 2 2015

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A question for a physics student:
Why does the moon reflect in parallel lines over the ocean water rather than coming from narrow on the horizon to wide at the shore?

Six Problems with Beach Fires in Metchosin

It would be nice if we all were careful, cleaned up after ourselves and were considerate of others and the environment. Unfortunately the annual spring and early summer problem of Fires on Metchosin beaches provides much evidence to the contrary.  Those of us who frequent the area have observed a deterioration in the situation in the last few years on Taylor and Weir’s beach. This spring with the stair access to Wittty’s lagoon cut off and the announcement on local media that beach fires are not allowed in other municipalities but it was still okay  to have them in Metchosin, the problem has reached a tipping point.

Ed Note: Metchosin Council finally banned all beach fires in a meeting in mid-June this year.

1. THE PROBLEM OF THE BURNING OF PALETTES:

The above was just part of last weeks legacy on Taylor Beach:

A quick review of the internet points out that :
Many Pre-2005 pallets have been treated with Methyl Bromide prior to exporting (part of phytosanitary regulations before import/export shipping to reduce risk of importing wood diseases and pests from country to country). The Methyl Bromide treated pallets should be disposed of as hazardous waste since it is dangerous to both people and the environment.  Newer pallets are heat treated, but don’t rule out mildicides ( for fungal inhibition) applied to some pallets.

2. THE BURNING BEACH DRIFTWOOD PROBLEM:

It saddens us to see people chopping or sawing up  large logs  or dragging them whole onto fires . These logs,  some well over 50 years old provide habitat for beach creatures and being moveable, can absorb wave energy and help to stabilize the backshore from increasing erosion.

Why do people continue to burn driftwood when there is clear evidence that it can produce toxic substances?

This from the EPA in the US:

  • Never burn household garbage or cardboard. Plastics, foam and the colored ink on magazines, boxes, and wrappers produce harmful chemicals when burned.
  • Never burn coated, painted, or pressure-treated wood because it releases toxic chemicals when burned.
  • Never burn ocean driftwood, plywood, particle board, or any wood with glue on or in it. They all release toxic chemicals when burned.
  • Never burn wet, rotted, diseased, or moldy wood.

From:http://www.bcairquality.ca/topics/stove-burning-practices.html
” The driftwood found on B.C. beaches may seem like an economically attractive heat source. Driftwood, however, is laden with salt, and burning it releases sodium and chlorine ions. The potential exists for these chlorine ions to form chlorinated compounds such as dioxins and furans, which are suspected human carcinogens. They may also corrode your stove and venting system.”

3. THE “I’VE GOT TO HAVE MY OWN PIECE OF THE BEACH” PROBLEM:2015-03-23multiplefirepitsjpg

 

Why is it not okay to use someone’s old firepit instead of building a new one a few feet away, creating another mess?
Last week I counted 40 old and recent firepits from this season along a stretch of no more than 200 metres of Taylor Beach.

 

 

 

 

4. THE PROBLEM WITH THE MESS PEOPLE LEAVE:

Probably before the end of summer I will get a picture of the melted broken bottles and aluminum beer cans left in fire-pits, but for now this will have to do. The hazard this poses for children and animals is unacceptable. Winter storms will distribute any material left like in mounds and pits  over the beach, posing an unsuspecting hazard.

5. THE  HABITAT DESTRUCTION PROBLEM:

gf-sandlance-july1320154In the photo below, the darkened sand area, a diameter of around 4 metres or 12 feet , is where there will be complete sterilization of the sand and death of any organisms living within it. Sand is not an inert environment to begin with. It can have a complex ecosystem of  bacteria and invertebrates which contribute to decomposition and nutrient cycling , as well as a habitat for forage fish.

 

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Darkened sand shows area of influence of a beach fire.

6. THE EXTREMELY DRY WEATHER AND WILDFIRE RISK PROBLEM:

Perhaps this is the biggest problem that threatens to have a huge impact on life in Metchosin. The continuity of dry brush and forest from the beaches to backyards is a real threat for wildfires. Fanned by winds, fires that escape or were not completely extinguished and left unattended could cause untold damage to residents and property in the district.

****RECOMMENDATIONS:
So one shouldn’t complain unless they are prepared to do something about it. Here are my recommendations:
1. Have fires in designated locations only . Why not install a set of  metal container pits for the duration of the fire season, and all wood must be brought to the beach by the fire-maker.. ie no in-situ burning of driftwood (see reasons above)
2. The allowed season for fires must be regulated by conditions not by a  standard date like the start of a certain month.
3. Absolutely no burning of old habitat logs.
4. Absolutely no leaving of trash including bottles or cans in fires..( Pack it in pack it out. )
5. All fires to be extinguished by water. ( Everyone needs a bucket with them.)
6. Make very clear signage at the end of Taylor road… and if necessary for a few weekends have volunteers sit there and hand out information pamphlets on sustainability of the values of the beach.
7. Note that municipalities can regulate: from http://www.bcairquality.ca/topics/outdoor-burning-laws.html
8.. As a taxpayer I keep this in the back of my mind:  from the BC Forest Service website :
  • Q: Are people entitled to build fires on the beach?
    A: Yes, people have the right to build fires on the beach as long as they are in compliance with either their local government bylaws or the Wildfire Act & Regulations. If Campfires are restricted in this area, then a beach campfire fire is also prohibited.
  • Q: What are the rules that apply to having a campfire (a half a meter by a half a meter used for recreational or first nation’s ceremonial purposes)?
    A: A person may light, fuel or use a Campfire when:
     the person is not prohibited from doing so under another enactment;
     to do so is safe and is likely to continue to be safe;
     the person establishes a fuel break around the burn area;  while the fire is burning, the person ensures that
     the fuel break is maintained, and
     the fire is watched and patrolled by a person to prevent the escape of fire and the person is equipped with at least o one fire fighting hand tool, or o 8 litres of water in one or more containers;
     before leaving the area, the person ensures that the fire is extinguished.
  • Q: What are some safety guidelines when conducting a beach fire?
    A: Ensure that you comply with regulations and/or bylaws in your area regarding fire size and safety measures. Always check whether there are any bans or restrictions in effect, and pay close attention to wind conditions before lighting a fire. Keep fires at a reasonable distance from flammable materials and never leave them unattended. As hot coals can easily reignite: use water to extinguish the fire and ensure that it is cold to the touch before leaving it unattended.Q: If a fire is started illegally, who is liable for the suppression costs it if it escapes?
    A: If the fire is started within an organized area, costs are assumed by the fire department (local government) and area tax payers. If it is started outside of a fire department’s jurisdiction (crown land), the BC Forest Service responds and assumes costs. If the person who started the fire is caught and found to be in non-compliance with regulations, there are penalties that can be enforced, such as restorative justice, ticketing (fines), cost recovery, or criminal prosecution in serious cases.“Local governments have the power to set bylaws to control (back)yard burning, campfires and beach fires within their boundaries. A growing number of municipalities have passed their own bylaws that ban backyard burning and other kinds of burning. For more information on municipal burning bylaws, see Inventory of Air Quality Bylaws in British Columbia for Anti-Idling, Open Burning and Wood-Burning Appliances (PDF: 1017 KB/197 pages), and Review of Open Burning Bylaws on Vancouver Island (PDF: 150 KB/25 pages).”

Some other references :

BC Govt Regulations:

District of Metchosin Burning Regulations:

Metchosin FIre Department Burning regulations:

Colwood Burning Regulations:

Central Saanich Burning Regulations:

Saanich Beach Fire regulations:

Comox Valley Regional District:

Newport Beach Fire Problems

 

Purple Martins nesting at Pearson College Docks in Pedder Bay

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John Costello and James Kennerley-Aug 2013.

Four new purple martin boxes were installed on the pilings of the Pearspn College docks in Pedder Bay on August 6, 2013. The team was Fred Beinhauer, John Costello, the late Tom Gillespie, and James Kennerley , a student from Pearson College.

This is now the second year that they have inhabited the houses and raised offspring. Locally, the Rocky Point Bird Observatory has assumed responsibility for Purple Martin colonies on South Van Island. The RPBO coordinator is Wallis Moore Reid. Courtney Edwards agreed to be the PC colony steward. Her office is right on the wharf where the boxes are located.

The overall effort in BC is administered by the Purple Martin  Recovery Society. Bruce Cousens out of Nanaimo is the Biologist who is the driving force behind the project.

Some websites are: http://www.georgiabasin.ca/puma.htm (the official website of Bruce Cousens mentioned above) and  http://rpbo.org/ 

RESEARCH ARTICLE: Conserv Genet DOI 10.1007/s10592-007-9358-3
High genetic diversity in the blue-listed British Columbia population of the purple martin maintained by multiple sources of immigrants Allan J. Baker, Annette D. Greenslade, Laura M. Darling and  J. Cam Finlay

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Hirundinidae
Genus: Progne
Species: P. subis
Progne subis
(Linnaeus, 1758)

Herring Spawn Video from Denman Island

Why are BC residents so concerned about what might happen to their coastline from an increase in shipping and oil tankers?

We don’t have a scene like this video portrays in Metchosin, although we do get frenzy feeding by birds and mammals in the fall at Race Rocks but we do have forage fish which live on our beaches and provide year round food for the ecosystem.

Don’t miss this video from Denman Island : https://vimeo.com/121960894?fb_action_ids=10153160722717497&fb_action_types=

Vegetation in April at Tower Point

In Mid-April,  native species provide a colourful display on Tower Point next to the ocean.

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Camas on the shore of Tower Point

 

I was also impressed with the display of a high biodiversity of Bryophytes ( mosses) on the rocky shore just above the spray zone:

In this rocky exposed area on the East side of Tower Point was also located an interesting small tuft grass with rather large heads which I had not seen before:

 

Tower Point Subdivision

I went over to Tower Point today to get a better sense of the seafront north of the Tower Point portion of Witty’s lagoon CRD park. It is part of  a subdivision proposal. This is a good example of natural Capital of the Municipality. Public access to this area would be possible by all of the other holders of property in the subdivision, as well as the public. With the pressures from increasing population in the neighbouring communities of Langford and Colwood the value of this area kept as public property would be very high.
2015-04-13 towerpointproperty

The shorefront on the property north of Tower Point which  is subject to a subdivision proposal

From an APRM newsletter:
Parkland Acquisition at Subdivision: Under section 941 of the Local Government ACT, the owner of land being subdivided must provide park land when three or more additional lots are being created and at least one of the parcels is 3 Hs(4.94 acres) or smaller.  The amount of parkland that is required, without compensation, is 5% of the land being proposed for subdivision….where the local govenment has the authority to decides whether it wants 5% deducation or cash-in-lieu, it is up to Council (unless specifically delegated to the Approving Officer) to determine the amount (up to 5%) and location.
…where the OCP has policies and designations for future parks, the local government can decide whether to accept land or cash-oin-lieu  Absent such policies, the landowner decides, with the compensation equal to market value of the entire parcel prior to its subdivision but it has preliminary approval for subdivision…
towerpointmap

The shoreline location— see red arrow and bracket on the right.

The shorefront here would make a very good addition to the part of Witty’s Lagoon regional park which is locted at Tower Point . Residents of the community made a submission at tonight’s council meeting pointing out the advantages of a park dedication for a strip along the shoreline. It is hoped that the council, when provided with the final version of the application will recommend this park border extension.

I also took some pictures of the wildflowers and features of the shoreline in the park at Tower Point bordering this subdivision. See in the next blog.

Horses on Taylor Beach

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The holes punched out by horses can be up to 25 cm. in depth.

The Metchosin Community has a considerable population of recreational horses. It is accepted that to criticize anything horse-related might not be politically correct in Metchosin.

The pictures included in this post represent an extreme example but they are useful in order to point out the potential environmental impact of this activity. Let alone making it gf-sandlance-july1320154difficult to walk on until the next high tide comes in to smooth it out, the real issue is what is happening to the habitat of the forage fish. Both Pacific Smelt and Sand lance inhabit intertidal zones on Taylor beach. When they spawn, these forage fish deposit eggs  just under the surface of the sand . They are vulnerabale to compaction and excessive drying out before they are carried out by the tide.  Given the lack of protection afforded the habitat of these fish and the over-harvesting in the herring fishery, these essential small fish of the food web are challenged enough already.

horsehoof

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Horse hoof punctures in the sand right down in the area where sand lance are depositing their eggs in burrows.

 

Winter foraging seabirds still off Taylor Beach

On my daily walks on Taylor Beach since the fall, I have noticed that there has been a constant presence of the diving ducks off shore which rely on the forage fish from Taylor Beach.  It will be interesting to see when they depart to go to their nesting grounds, usually to the North on Inland lakes.
Today a common loon, several red-breasted mergansers, buffleheads and surf scoters are still scattered over the waterfront.

No estimate is available on the number of diving birds that winter along the waterfront around the southern end of Vancouver Island depending on forage fish for survival but the sum total would probably be considerable given what we are regularly seeing in this area off Taylor Beach. In our efforts as intervenors on behalf of Friends of Ecological reserves, we have been aware and questioned the importance of the over-wintering population of seabirds in the area which would be severely affected in the event of a catastrophic oil spill.   Unfortunately the level of environmental impact assessment by the pipeline and oil transport company in this area which is a few miles from the intended vessel traffic lane does not exist.

In our recent Round 2  intormation requests , we tried to get KM/ Trans Mountain to acknowledge the importance of modelling a spill of their toxic diluted bitumin off Victoria. They have refused to do so so far .

SInce Taylor beach is a spawning beach for two forage fish, Pacific Smelt and sand lance  which provide food for these marine birds, one might reflect on the way we humans use and abuse the beach, the habitat of the forage fish. Numerous randomly placed beach fires  and  horse traffic which punches up the beach  are concerns which should be addressed in Metchosin .