Blog Posts

Bellewood Acres – thank the owners!

Bellewood clip
The meeting facility at Bellewood Acres farm has been home for Tenmile group membership meetings ever since farm owner Dorie Belisle helped start this effort more than a decade ago. Now the new owners, the Abel family, are continuing that hospitality – and we sure do appreciate it!

CountryCafeHeaderSeveral of our members recently enjoyed lunch at the farm’s Bellewood Country Cafe, and fully enjoyed meeting three generations now in residence – Julie & Eric, with their son Blake, his wife Jenelle and their two daughters. Next chance you get, why not stop in for lunch, delicious treats from the bakery, or just your apple-a-day – and welcome the Abels to the neighborhood. They are excited to be joining this community, and we are happy they are continuing Bellewood support for the Tenmile Clean Water Project.

March 13 reminder: Lynden HS FFA Ag Issues Team

A few challenging snow days were enough to disrupt schools and postpone this event from our February meeting, but not enough to discourage this hardy team of students! They are ready to continue their schedule, including our event on Tuesday, March 13th.

Lynden High School has an active FFA chapter that participates in the annual Issues competition at the FFA state convention. We have hosted their team before as they practice in preparation for the late spring contest.

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They will return this year to present at our March 13 membership meeting at Bellewood Acres. The topic this year is “Will Traditional Farming Survive?” – which should be of particular interest in our area. You should join us to hear how they frame the question and pose their answers – visitors are welcome. These students always appreciate questions and critique afterwards so come prepared for a stimulating conversation!
Our meeting begins at 6:30pm, with the FFA program beginning about 7pm.

 

Act now! WCD ballot request deadline: Feb 8th

WCD Election LogoThere is one Whatcom Conservation District (WCD) Board position open for election in March. These elections follow many typical rules for WA State elections but are administered by WCD staff. So you must request a ballot in order to vote by mail. The request process is quick & easy from this online website

Summary information & links below are all from the complete WCD election website.

  • All information provided in your request must match your Whatcom County Voter Registration; view your Voter Registration here at the County Auditor’s Office.
  • Each Conservation District is governed by a board of five supervisors; see this page to meet current board members.
  • The two candidates in this election are: Theresa Sygitowicz and Valeri Wade (click on names for biographies.)
  • Further details about the rules & timeline – for ballot validations, receiving ballots & then returning them, or voting in person, etc – are on the election website.
  • If you have any questions regarding elections or serving on the Board, contact Dawn Bekenyi at wcd@whatcomcd.org or 360-526-2381 x 101.

New: County PIC Program e-news

PIC stands for ‘Pollution, Identification and Correction‘, a methodology used elsewhere that also defines the program in Whatcom County Public Works that is focused on fecal bacteria contamination in our waterways, specifically waters that drain to shellfish harvest areas in Drayton Harbor and Portage Bay. This work includes community outreach & education, technical & financial assistance for landowners, and coordination with County departments & other agencies.

This is also the program that coordinates water quality testing across the county, including our regular monthly ‘ambient‘ sampling in the Tenmile watershed, which drains to Portage Bay via the Nooksack River.


And now they have an e-newsletter. This month’s issue includes latest water quality data for the shellfish beds, a report from the Drayton Shellebration in December, upcoming events and more. Download a copy of the January newsletter here.

Sign up for future issues by sending an email to:
PICProgram@co.whatcom.wa.us

Opportunity strikes! Next water sample day: Tuesday, Dec 10th.

We can always use help with our water quality sampling. We have one intrepid volunteer who is reliably on duty, but assistance would be appreciated. If you are interested: 1) see a short description here; and/or 2) contact us here. Stream flows are picking up as the ground becomes saturated – and it won’t be [quite] as cold next week! – so come on out and get a different view of the neighborhood.

Four Mile Creek
Four Mile Creek

New: summary data results summary for Tenmile

As counterbalance to our last blog post showing our concerning results for November, the County has provided their November report (see here) that summarizes data for the metrics actually used for comparison to water quality standards – this is the ultimate measure for a long term look as well as trends. By this test, we are still meeting both standards! This is continuing good news, which also includes a cautionary reminder.

The Geometric Mean is the easier standard to meet as it is a long term average. As the chart makes clear, all of our sample stations not only meet the standard, but are improving – exactly what we want to see!geomean 11-2018
The 90th Percentile is the second, tougher standard because it counts peak results; so if a site frequently ‘spikes‘ high, it can easily exceed the standard. In this case, site T1 at the mouth shows the creek is [barely] meeting the standard (which is really what counts) but multiple individual sites are struggling – and these are the same ones we saw spiking-high during recent rain events, as shown in our special samples (see last blog post.) So the lesson is clear: even brief events that create exceedances can hurt our long term progress. Vigilance is always needed!90th Percent 11-2018

November lab results: updated!

This is an update on data reported at our Nov 14 membership meeting:
During this month our project has collected 21 special samples, in addition to the 10 we regularly collect as part of the County PIC program. With these samples we were hoping to learn more about a trend that is often seen when fall rains arrive: harmful ‘spikes’ in fecal bacteria counts in streams and the Nooksack River. With lab results generally improving during other periods, this year the county and partners created a Fall Strategy to focus attention on prevention, in hopes of minimizing the historical impact. Unfortunately, our results, as well as those reported from collection sites in many other areas, seem to repeat that autumn trend – but we’ll keep working on it! This chart shows lab results & rainfall amounts; scroll down for some explanatory notes.TCWP lab results Nov 2018 v2-1
Notes: color code corresponds to relative impact on the standards shown; Marine results are from samples collected by WA State Health and must meet standards for shellfish consumption, which are more stringent than general standards shown here; the undisclosed ‘high’ result on 11/14 is being investigated further.
County’s Tenmile summary for the same period is available here.

WCD announces new DNA research project to ID bacteria sources

No we will not attempt explaining DNA analysis in a short DNA Analysis: More Than Risk Reduction, It's About Optimal Health!blog post!
But here’s the short story… This year-long project will test whether the DNA of bacteria in our waterways can be used to accurately identify sources of pollution, including fecal bacteria – which we know is of central interest to us, the Laurel WID and all our partners in the Whatcom Clean Water Program. As water quality in the Nooksack basin gradually improves, it is getting harder to find and eliminate those few sources that still keep the Portage Bay shellfish beds conditionally closed. If new tools like this can help we will all be celebrating!

Image result for dna analysis imagesRecent state funding has enabled an expansion of work on this idea that began locally, which we and others have been following for a year or so. Many folks have high hopes and expectations for this promising technology, for good reason; the possibilities are tantalizing! But there are also many uncertainties, so managing expectations is important too. This is a great example of the local research by WCD and others; let’s get started! For more details, see the full press release here: WCD press release – DNA project (pdf document)

 

Watershed focus: our T1 sample site – in flood

T1 focus

We have ten sites we sample regularly for fecal coliform as part of Whatcom County’s monthly monitoring program. The one labeled ‘T1’ is just upstream of where Ten Mile Creek flows into the Nooksack – specifically, at the Barrett Road bridge. Data from this site indicate the overall water quality for the Tenmile watershed. Other major tributaries, like Bertrand & Fishtrap creeks, also have sample sites at their mouth, which all help provide a summary view of the lower Nooksack watershed quality.

Because T1 is so close to the river, in an area with little slope, it floods when the river rises – as it has this week. After recent steady rains, this photo from Friday (11/2), looking north across the bridge, clearly demonstrates the ‘close’ relationship between river & creek. With water actually flowing up-stream from the Nooksack, there is no use in collecting this day’s water sample, since it would duplicate the County’s separate sample drawn just up-river.
Thanks to our usual man on the scene for the un-usual scenic blue-sky view!T1 sample site

Guest speaker at our Nov. 14 Members Meeting: Dr. Sandra Matheson

Save the date! We are pleased to have Sandra coming to our next meeting to talk about her family’s local beef operation, Matheson Farms. We will have announcements in local media and hope to have a good turnout. Don’t miss it!
See location information here and contact us if you have any questions.sandra_event5 postcard
Sandra is a life-long farmer, educator, filmmaker, author, speaker, active grandmother and retired veterinarian. She is also an Accredited Consultant/Field Professional in Holistic Management and a certified consensus facilitator. She serves as the president of Roots of Resilience and Managing Change Northwest; has co-authored the book The Art and Science of Success; and is a co-founder and past president of the North Cascade Meat Producer’s Cooperative.