Submitted by A Chaney.
The next time you visit Sunnyside Beach, look toward the Tacoma Narrows and pan left as you take in the vast area of water. Then consider that the tide changes the water’s level by more than ten feet on a typical day. All this water runs through the Tacoma Narrows, and much of it past Sunnyside Beach. It’s so much that it doesn’t make sense to use gallons to talk about the amount, but rather acre-feet of water.
All this moving water erodes the shoreline. In the past we have built various styles of sea wall to try to stop or slow the erosion, but the process of erosion goes on, and will continue no matter what we do. While a sea wall slows erosion, it also leads to coarser and narrower beaches, degrading shallow water habitat for wildlife. It also makes an obstacle for visitors to access the beach.
Next week (June 7th) the Steilacoom Town Council is scheduled to get a briefing on options for the failing sea wall. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife have published a wonderful 44 page pamphlet, “Your Marine Waterfront, a Guide to Protecting Your Property While Promoting Healthy Shorelines.” It provides a great illustration of other options for the Town to consider. On bulkhead installation it says, “Bulkheads are now considered an option of last resort and most often built only where required by site conditions. Most jurisdictions prohibit bulkheads unless it is demonstrated that erosion will directly threaten a home in the near term.”
Perhaps the Town could get some grant funding if it chooses a more ecologically sound solution to the failing bulkheads. The pamphlet is available here wdfw.wa.gov/sites/default/files/publications/01791/wdfw01791.pdf