Whatcom County Public Works crews will replant $30,000 worth of plantings on the Birch Bay berm in late spring that were damaged during the past two years, said Roland Middleton, public works special programs manager.
Middleton said public works had prepared for some replanting in the berm’s project budget, but didn’t expect the overuse and severe seasons of the past two years. The $30,000 for the plantings is covered in the project budget, so no action is needed from Whatcom County Council.
“[People] have been loving it to death in a few spots,” he said.
Walkers have worn in an unintended pathway on top of the berm, parallel to the cement walkway, and crowds during Birch Bay events like the Ring of Fire and Hope, Discover Birch Bay Days and the Fourth of July have damaged plantings in other areas.
The county’s permits for the project require it to plant a certain amount along the berm and ensure those plants reach maturity. Public works crews are still evaluating the percentage that needs replanting and will wait until spring to begin planting.
Middleton first announced the necessary replanting on the February episode of the Birch Bay BuzzPod, which is hosted by Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce event coordinator Sacha Sanguinetti and available on the chamber’s website at birchbaychamber.com. Middleton said on the podcast that the plants are also needed because their roots hold the berm together.
“Those plantings are not only required by regulatory agencies through our permits, but are also a requirement by the designer,” he said. “When you’re putting together and restoring a natural beach system, plants are a part of that. It’s not just a pile of rock.”
While it won’t be orange, plastic safety fencing, public works is planning to have a minimum amount of fencing to keep berm-goers out of the replanting sections. Middleton said the fencing may run perpendicular to the waterline to keep people from walking where plants have yet to reach maturity and guide them to the beach.
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