WWU students release environmental impact study for Birch Bay shoreline project

Published on Mon, Aug 6, 2012 by Jeremy Schwartz

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Five Western Washington University (WWU) students, after studying the possible impacts of the proposed Birch Bay shoreline enhancements, have concluded the most serious impacts will come during construction.

The students completed an environmental impact assessment of the Birch Bay Drive and Pedestrian Facility as part of a class taken through WWU’s Huxley College of the Environment. The assessment looked at numerous possible impacts of the project, which will add a beach berm to nearly the entire length of Birch Bay, remove beach groins and riprap and improve stormwater treatment structures.

The 74-page document, available by clicking here, is the product of WWU students Ellen Cole, Laura Higashi-Poynter, Ashley Hill, Rachel Morton and Brian Noel. The team spent five weeks of summer poring over documents, interviewing Whatcom County and state officials, and conducting site visits.

The assessment’s general consensus was this: Impacts of the shoreline enhancement project will be most serious during construction, which will be completed in phases.

These impacts include increases in emissions from construction vehicles, noise, dust and the aesthetically unpleasing sight of Birch Bay Drive torn up. The report also listed possible significant impacts to local wildlife, including shellfish, salmon, herring and great blue herons, though construction will be limited to specific timeframes to limit these impacts.

Look for a full report on the assessment, with input from one of the students, in this Thursday’s issue of The Northern Light.


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