Monday, July 16, 2012

Recent Article in the PDN on the Elwha

I love my local paper. I am a loyal subscriber, and have no plans on ever changing that. In an age defined in part, we are told, by dying print media, I want to do everything I can to keep the Peninsula Daily News chugging along.

That being said, I have been known to criticize the PDN when it comes to reporting on the sorts of coastal scientific issues that I am most familiar with (see my blog post titled "Where Do They Get This Stuff From?" from last December).

But I'm overall pretty pleased with Arwyn Rice's article from yesterday, "Researchers Excited By Early Signs of Elwha Changes" and thought that she did a good job trying to capture what I was trying to say, representing the uncertainty in our science, and forming it into a decent summary.

That being said, lets move on to the errata. First, when Arwyn writes that "Once a sandy beach existed just east of the Elwha River mouth" the implication is that I said that. I didn't. In fact, there is virtually no evidence that this was the case. Really the only data that I've seen suggesting what the grain size on the beach was like prior to the dams comes from an 1908 Coast Survey chart, which marks the shoreline near the mouth as "Sand and Pebbles"...suggesting the possibility that it was sort of like what we see now.

Next, Rice quoted me as saying "In the past 15 to 20 years, erosion has taken 12 feet per year". If I did say that, I am sorry. What I should have said is "erosion has taken UP TO 12 feet per year on average". Erosion in places and over some time periods has exceeded that rate, and in others it is less. Erosion is like that.

Also, as I've written in the past, i am not yet willing to say that the removal of the Elwha dams will "rebuild Ediz Hook". To be fair this statement wasn't attributed to me in Arwyn's article, but it may be interpreted as such by association. I'm not ever sure that Ediz Hook needs "rebuilding" so much as a different perspective on how we manage it. But that is a complicated story, one that needs some study, and is definitely for a different time.

Not quite sure where this came from, "The amount of sediment to be deposited from the dam removal is the equivalent of a 100-year or 500-year event, he said." I think that one is mis-attributed since we didn't really talk about sediment quantities observed at the mouth, and I wouldn't have had much to say there anyway, since we don't yet have good data on that topic.

And finally, and really digging into the weeds, I can see why Arwyn wrote, "Once Lake Mills is removed, the river's sediment load will increase dramatically, he said." since we talked about how a larger fraction of the stored sediment in the Elwha system is still stuck in Lake Mills. But the term "load" is some circle suggests that the amount of sediment that the river is carrying at one point in time, versus the long-term delivery to where I care about it - the mouth and coastal zone. The instantaneous load may or may not increase when Glines comes out(it will probably depend more on river flow than anything), but certainly the amount of sediment available for transport down the river will increase.

1 comment:

John Brewer said...

Many thanks for your kind comments about the PDN -- and your helpful critique of the Elwha article, which helps us do a good job of journalism.

I'm sharing your blog with our writer, Arwyn Rice, and her editor, Leah Leah.

Best regards, John Brewer, publisher, Peninsula Daily News