Showing posts with label Current Events. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Current Events. Show all posts

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Bayocean: Atlantis of Oregon Published

I'm pleased to announce the publication of Bayocean: Atlantis of Oregon (BAO). Its 290 pages of text and 57 photos, maps, and charts chronicle the story of the only resort town in the world completely destroyed by the sea due to human error. 
I encourage folks to purchase it from one of the local vendors listed on the Book Availability page. 

Folks unfamiliar with the Bayocean story may want to start by reading my Bayocean Story in Brief. As for BAO, Neal Lemery wrote an extensive book review in the Tillamook County Pioneer, and Amazon includes its introduction, table of contents, and index in its Look Inside preview. You're likely to find familiar names in BAO's index because the Bayocean story reaches far beyond Tillamook County. People from Portland, Spokane, and other cities across the Pacific Northwest, San Francisco, Half Moon Bay, and other cities in the Bay Area, and Kansas City, Missouri were involved throughout its half century of existence. 

I apologize to Bayocean enthusiasts who've waited three and a half years since I first announced having started drafting a book, b
ut I kept discovering new details and interconnections that needed to be worked out as I parsed out 30 GB of data stored on my computer. And I was forced to seek new sources to help clarify discrepancies and debunk myths. Fitting everything into a reasonably sized, chronological narrative was also time-consuming. 

I regret the passing of several Bayocean alumni before they could read BAO and see my acknowledgement of their contributions. As I say in its introduction, Bayocean's history would be more interesting than most small towns even if it still existed; that it doesn't is why telling it matters, now more than ever, while some of those who experienced its destruction are still alive. 

Sunday, January 12, 2020

OPB On Bayocean

On the south jetty, with the inlet and Garibaldi in the distance, from left to right: 
Todd Sonflieth, Jule Gilfillan, Nathan Woosley, Heidi Moritz, and Jeffrey Henon.
Bayocean fans will enjoy two recent productions by Oregon Public Broadcasting journalists. The first, by Jule Gilfillan, is a 30-minute Oregon Field Guide special titled "Lost City of Bayocean" that aired on January 16, 2020. A 20-minute OPB Radio program written and produced by Kristian Foden-Vencil, has not yet aired but will be posted on his OPB page when it does. Kristian and Jule collaborated in writing "Bayocean: The Lost Resort Town That Oregon Forgot" which includes additional information, photos, and a link to use for streaming the OFG special. The OFG Facebook page provides even more videos and photos.

In 2015, I gave a behind-the-scenes look at Grant McComie filming a program on the spit which readers enjoyed, so I'm doing the same for Jule and Kristian. It was fascinating to watch each of these professionals at work, applying their unique styles, and pulling different narratives and conclusions out of the Bayocean story. 

My involvement with OPB began in August 2017 when Oregon Experience writer/producer Kami Horton requested story ideas on the Facebook history group Oregon History and Memories. Kami liked what I had to say about Bayocean and put it on her list. Later that year, Jule Gilfillan learned about Bayocean from Oregon Field Guide cameraman Nick Fisher (since retired) who bikes on the spit and thought it would make a good segment. After doing some research, she agreed with Nick and then checked in with Oregon Experience. Kami said it would be some time before she could get to Bayocean, so she encouraged Jule to run with it. Having learned about my work in the process, Jule contacted me on September 17, 2018, to ask for my assistance. 

A light moment between Todd and Jule.
Nathan assisting Todd with an action shot of Heidi.
Two days later we met at the Bayocean parking lot. Jule introduced me to OPB videographer/editor Todd Sonflieth and production assistant Nathan Woosley, a native of Tillamook. We headed out to the south jetty where Jule interviewed Army Corps of Engineers Coastal Engineer Heidi Moritz with Jeffrey Henon, Public Affairs Specialist standing by. It was good to hear Heidi say Bayocean's destruction was caused by the north jetty being built without a south jetty to match because the Corps had denied that well into the 1980s. 

When Heidi and Jeffrey left, the rest of us went to the Bayocean townsite signpost set up by Perry Reeder and his family. I enjoy telling the Bayocean story, but not so much being on camera. Jule and Todd did the best they could to put me at ease. Next, we visited the pit Perry's family had dug that exposed a section of sidewalk and street and then hiked up to the top of the dune ridge to look out at the shoreline where the Bayocean Natatorium and Hotel Bayocean Annex had stood. That was it for the spit. Jule informed me the story would be a standard eight-minute segment airing sometime in the spring of 2019.  Once home, I sent Jule answers to some questions she had asked, photos requested, and contact information for Bayocean alumni and others she could interview and ask for photos. Some of those photos were in pretty rough shape. Then volunteer Wes Mahan applied his editing magic. The transformations were amazing. Now I know why photos in OPB programs look so good. 

As the weeks went by, Jule kept coming back for more information, which I liked because it meant her interest was growing. I also enjoyed seeing her find new sources and obtain interviews with folks who had eluded me. Eventually, Jule gave me the good news that she had received approval to expand her story to feature-length. But this meant it would take longer to produce, more questions, and another visit to the spit. What I remember most from our June 5, 2019 trip was Todd's use of a drone-mounted camera to hover where the hotel chimney had once stood 100' feet above me standing on the shore below. 

Kristian descending from the highest
point in the southern part of the spit. 
Two months later, Kristian Foden-Vencil (whose British accent I had listened to for 20 years on OPB Radio) emailed to ask me for an interview. He had just recently learned about Bayocean while staying at the Hicks House (which was then a bed and breakfast, but no longer), and in asking around the office, he learned about Jule's story and got approval to write his own. After an initial meeting in Portland, we hiked around the spit on August 8th.  I noticed a new three-sided historical kiosk installed along Dike Road which I later learned was the result of a Tillamook High School student's senior class project. Another kiosk was later installed at the Bayocean townsite. Later, I provided contact information and other resources to Kristian that were different than those I provided Jule. Bayocean is a big story with room for many narratives. 
Assisting Jule and Kristian was fun but challenging at times. They would often begin an email or phone call with a "quick question," for which I could not provide a quick answer.  After five years of research, I knew that the story of Bayocean was more complicated than houses falling into the sea. But the 25 GB of information and photographs on my computer's hard drive, a box of physical manuscripts, and a shelf of books made me think that I had figured it all out. Answering questions for Jule and Kristian dissuaded me of that illusion: I had the data but I hadn't parsed it all out, and the only way to do that was to write a comprehensive narrative from beginning to end. I needed some additional motivation to commit to the time and effort that would entail, so I contacted a couple publishers. They provided enough encouragement to get me started writing. So, you may not hear from me for a while. 

Update:  On March 18, 2023, I announced the publication of Bayocean: Atlantis of Oregon. A month later, Oregon Field Guide  gave their take on what it was like working with me on their Facebook page

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Air Force Survival Training on Bayocean

On April 8, 2015, I was looking for a cadastral survey monument (see Rewitness Card #56 ) at the north end of Bayocean when I noticed red-striped plastic ribbons hanging from tree limbs. Following the flags from the ocean side to the bay side, I could not figure out their purpose. Cape Meares resident Robert (Ollie) Ollikainen later suggested they play a role in Air Force survival training held on the spit periodically. 

A month laterI learned that the Air Force had a contract with the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department to hold survival training each spring and fall and found a CoastWatch report dated 9/13/03 by YaakovM that said:
On this Sunday through Thursday, Sept. 18th, the US Air   Force was conducting coastal survival training exercises. Saw four young soldiers building shelters out of driftwood, putting up rescue flags, and otherwise going through assigned tasks. On bay side of the spit, I saw several trucks, a bus, many tents, and equipment for the exercise noted above. The soldiers appeared to be doing no damage to the beach area and, from what I later learned, completely clean up the area when they're through.

When I called Paul Levesque, Chief of Staff for the Tillamook County Board of Commissioners, about this he said the Air Force notifies him when the training is scheduled, but it's not made public to avoid interference by observers because these are flight crews learning to hide behind enemy lines if their planes go down. This made me wonder if eyes were observing me while I was bushwhacking across the spit back in April. Perhaps I had inadvertently become part of their training. If so, they did well.

I happened upon the training in person while picking up garbage for SOLV on September 21st, 2019. A male soldier (one was female) inflating rafts at Crab Harbor waved permission to take photos. Their camp was at Kincheloe Point was empty. There were several boats near the end of the south jetty but I couldn't see what they were doing. Perhaps eyes hidden in the beach grass were observing me again. 

See the Index page to find more articles to read. 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Bayocean Road Hard To Build AND Keep Open

The Oregon coast was hit hard over the last couple weeks by record rainfall and strong winds, causing temporary isolation of many communities in Tillamook County due to road closures. Cape Meares was one of them. Bayocean Road, the only way in and out of the community, was flooded in some locations, covered with debris from several landslides, and undermined by a culvert failure. Residents were locked in for short periods on a couple occassions. Charles Ansorge, President of the Cape Meares Community Association, wrote a report and posted photos at their website, and provided additional information in this post. 

Photo by Charles Ansorge
Cape Meares Loop Road had been an alternative route to the south, through Oceanside, Happy Camp, and Netarts, but it was closed by landslides north of the road to the lighthouse in 2013. When a failed culvert blocked the Loop Road between Oceanside and Happy Camp, Tillamook County provided 24-hour pilot service through the landslide-buckled sections for three days so that Oceanside residents had a way in and out. By then Bayocean Road had been cleared. 

In her December 16, 2015, Cape Meares Fencepost, long-time resident Barbara Bennett recalled how grateful she and her neighbors were when the Cape Meares Loop Road was completed, because they then had a way out when Bayocean Road was closed by landslides. This would occur regularly and last for days at a time. Oceanside residents were equally pleased to have another way out when the loop closed south of them. Efforts have been made to acquire state and/or federal funding to repair it, so far without success.

Photo from Tillamook County Pioneer Museum,
looking west, with Tillamook Bay on the right. 
The original construction of Bayocean Road required some sections to be cut out of the hillside. In other places, pilings had to be driven into Tillamook Bay and land backfilled behind them. This is why it took 20 years for a county road to reach Bayocean Park. Then the challenge became keeping it open. When storms hit, flooding from the bay, and slides from the rain-soaked hillside, slam Bayocean Road from both sides. Bayocean alumni like Perry Reeder tell stories of extended periods when heavy equipment, like tractors and bulldozers, were used to pull cars through the mess. On December 28, 1931, the Oregonian reported a slide dumping 30,000 cubic yards at Biggs (now Pincher) Point, bringing the point home with: "A steam shovel was buried by the avalanche." They hoped to open the road (evidently with a spare steam shovel) in four days. 
Photo by Charles Ansorge

Recent high winds also blew the top off the Bayocean interpretive sign. Fortunately, the remaining section tells the story. Though much of the text is incorrect, the sign is historic in its own right. It's a good idea to check Tillamook County Road Status before traveling during the winter to Bayocean Spit or any of the communities around Cape Meares. You can also sign up for road closure notices, weather advisories, and other emergency announcements about Tillamook County at Nixle

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Perry Reeder Presentation October 24, 2015

Perry Reeder and his daughter Sarah MacDonald gave an expanded PowerPoint presentation on Bayocean at the Tillamook County Library from 1-3 PM on Saturday October 24. This was another packed house, but because the entire conference area was opened up, there was plenty of room and no one was turned away. See my post about Perry's last presentation for his bio and other information. The library had Jane Scott videotape the presentation, so at some point there will be a DVD available for checkout.  

Monday, October 5, 2015

Watching "Grant's Getaways: Bayocean" On TV

Sunday Night Football ran past KGW's scheduled time to run Grant's Getaways: Bayocean on TV last night. It's been rescheduled for 11:30 PM, next Sunday, October 25th. It will also air Saturday, December 12, at 9:00 PM. 

Northwest Cable News (NWCN) will air the show at 10:30 AM and 5:00 PM, next Saturday, October 24th; and 5:00 PM, next Sunday October 25th. I don't know if scheduling is different for those outside Portland, so be sure to check you own listings if you live in Seattle, Boise, or Spokane. 

**Thanks to Grant McComie and Josy Ansley, KGW's Broadcast Operations Manager, for providing this updated programming information** 

You can read about the day Grant and his videographer/producer Jeff Kastner filmed Bayocean last summer at Grant McOmie Captures The Bayocean Story. They did another show off the shores of Bayocean you can read about at Grant McOmie Cockle Clamming at Bayocean. If you cannot watch these programs on TV, my posts provide  online viewing options.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Perry Reeder Presentation August 19, 2015

Perry Reeder gave his Bayocean presentation to a packed house at the Tillamook County Library on August 19th, 2015. Sarah Beeler did a great job of promoting the event by placing a sign at the entrance to the library and advertising in the Tillamook Headlight Herald weeks in advance. I posted in on several Facebook groups and saw a few history friends in the audience, some even came over from Portland. Unfortunately, our efforts were so successful, and the interest so high, that some folks had to be turned away, but not before Perry promised them to schedule another presentation. It was held on October 24th at 1 PM. 

Sarah MacDonald getting things ready for the Bayocean presentation
by her father, Perry Reeder, August 19, 2015 

Perry used a PowerPoint, created by his daughter Sarah MacDonald, to accompany his telling of the geological processes that caused Bayocean's demise - and its human impact. Perry added some entertaining personal stories along the way. After an hour or so, he answered questions from the audience.  

Earlier in the day, Bayocean alumni gathered at the community center/schoolhouse to reminisce. They were gracious in letting me hound them with questions. 

Perry Reeder at Bayocean sign
July 3, 2013
Photo by Sarah MacDonald
Sarah MacDonald photo of folks gathered at the Cape Meares
Community Center August 19, 2015, who lived on Bayocean
and Cape Meares before a storm made it an island in 1952

Perry's family moved to Bayocean Park when he was six years old - in 1944. With his buddies, he explored the ruins, yelled at the blimp pilots as they passed close overhead each day, kept cool snorkeling along the sandy shores of the bay, and listened to Mr. Mitchell's sermons while waiting for the bus or buying candy at his store. In 1950, watching the sea moving relentlessly closer, his family moved to Cape Meares. There he eventually raised his own family while watching Bayocean's destruction - and rebuilding.

Prior to the construction of Tillamook Bay's South Jetty, the Army Corps of  Engineers hired Perry to captain a charter boat, from which their engineers and scientists took measurements that helped finalize its design. From 2002 to 2003 he served on the Bayocean Task Force. Perry owns a piece of property on the spit. A few years ago he coordinated county and family efforts to post signs to show where the business center of Bayocean had once stood - on the bay side of the spit. The fact that the signs are closer to the ocean now graphically illustrates the extensive geological changes that have occurred.  Perry now lives in Oceanside and spends most days managing his family farm in Beaver. In July 2017 Perry and his daughter Sarah wrote Bayocean: Memories Beneath the Sand

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Bayocean Rezoning Approved By Tillamook County Planning Commission

On November 12, 2015, the Tillamook County Planning Commission voted 5/2 in favor of changing all land north of Cape Meares Lake on Bayocean Spit that is currently zoned Recreation Management (RM) to Recreation Natural (RN). This came after listening to about 3 hours of staff input from Community Development Director Bryan Pohl and Senior Planner Sarah Absher and testimony from the public testimony. Written testimony, including detailed maps and zone change details, as well as audio of the entire meeting, can be downloaded at their website

My earlier post Zoning Change For Bayocean Moves Forward reports on the April 9, 2015, Tillamook County Board of Commissioners meeting that started this process. Bayocean Park Eco-park Rejected reports on the proposal that prompted a request for this rezoning from the Cape Meares Community Association

Whether you take a position on rezoning or not (I do not) the testimony given provides useful historical as well as current information about Bayocean. 

Friday, July 3, 2015

South Jetty Commemorative Plaque

Near Kincheloe Point, at the north end of Bayocean Spitis a huge boulder on the left side of Dike Road. It was placed there to commemorate the completion of the south jetty in September 1979. Thousands of similar boulders were used in its construction.

Given their size, it's amazing that the ocean can so easily bust up these stones; but it's doing at a current pace that's removing an average of 100' per year according to an Army Corps of Engineers report quoted in the Tillamook Headlight Herald of March 24, 2015. The jetty has lost a 900' since 1979, and "meets the completely degraded condition criteria." Tillamook County and the Port of Garibaldi hope to get federal funding to rebuild it soon. 

The north jetty was repaired in 2010. As the story of Bayocean Park's demise makes clear, it's critical to keep the two jetties in balance. Building just the north jetty in 1914 prevented the summer replenishment of Bayocean sand that had been scoured away during winter storms. We understand this now, but at the time many reasoned the slow loss of sand could have been just part of a generational ebb and flow. By the time the north jetty had been lengthened to its current length of 5700' in 1931, beach erosion had accelerated dramatically. In 1932 the Bayocean Natatorium, which sat right on the beach, was undercut and partially collapsed. One house after another fell into the sea until a 1952 storm created a breach a mile wide at the southern end, and left Bayocean an island until the Corps build a dike to close in 1957. The beach began to grow as construction of the south jetty began in 1969. It took three phases of funding to get it to 8000'. See Oregon Coastal Atlas and Bayocean Then and Now to get an idea of how dramatic the changes have been over the last century.

Getting back to the boulder at Kincheloe Point, you can see there is a square carved out of the upper right side of it. This once held a commemorative plaque. It was stolen 10 years ago. Until it can be replaced we can see what it looked like thanks to Walter Van Camp, who provided a photo of it. You can watch a video about the building of the South Jetty produced by Anchor Pictures for the Port of Garibaldi. 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Paul Levesque

Photo from Statesman Journal 
Residents of Tillamook County know the name Paul Levesque. When he was Chief of Staff for the Board of County Commissioners, he was in the news on a regular basis. He also was honored as one of the “Local Heroes in Action” for coming to the aid of a woman being assaulted at a gas station. 

What folks may not know is that Paul is a historian with a personal interest in Bayocean; which is why he agreed to an interview despite being a busy fellow. 

Paul has been a resident of Tillamook County since 1971. He lived on Cape Meares in 1973 and 1974, while working oyster beds for Cecil Harris. During that time he was on Bayocean regularly, for work and play.  

Since 1976, Paul has worked for Tillamook County, in several different capacities. In 1985 he wrote the two-volume A Chronicle of the Tillamook County Forest Trust Lands that is available at libraries. Paul has written three other unpublished papers that he has allowed me to provide access to:  

Each of the works is well documented and gives information specific to Bayocean and/or provides historical context. I was surprised to read there was a Port of Bayocean that played a part in early jetty discussions with the US Corps of Engineers. 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Grant McOmie Captures The Bayocean Story

Wednesday, June 17th, I had the pleasure of introducing Grant McOmie and his videographer/editor Jeff Kastner to Bayocean alumni, tagging along while the alumni showed them around the spit's "townsite", and giving Grant and Jeff a tour of the few buildings moved off Bayocean before the sea took them. The resulting Grant's Getaways: Bayocean was shown during KGW newscasts on June 26, but can be viewed online at Travel Oregon. The show will be one of four segments in a dedicated half-hour Grant's Getaways program in the fall. 

A week earlier Grant had asked me to set this up, after hearing about Bayocean from mutual friend Don Best. With the help of Sarah MacDonald (daughter of Bayocean alumni Perry Reeder) and Charles Ansorge (President of the Cape Meares Community Association), I managed to pull it off. Don couldn't join us because he was taking advantage of a sunny day with a minus 1.4 tide to take aerial photographs of Tillamook Bay - including a particularly dramatic one of Bayocean. Don provided some of the photographs Jeff and Grant put into the show. Tom Olsen provided them a copy of the DVD he produced for the Port of Garibaldi (see Videos of Bayocean History) which they used to powerful effect. 

Left to right: Barbara Bennett, David Bennett, Grant McOmie, Kevin Bennett, 
Harold Bennett, Perry Reeder, and Sarah MacDonald 

Perry Reeder's maps of  Bayocean 

Our day started at the schoolhouse, which Charles was kind enough to open ahead of time. Each Bayocean school alumnus arrived with an interested son or daughter: Perry and his daughter Sarah; Barbara Bennett and her son David; and Harold Bennett and his son Kevin (wife/mother MerryAnn bolted before the cameras came out). Perry and Sarah laid out some maps on a table. Barbara spread out some photos on another. The stories soon began. Everyone had warmed to the occasion by the time Grant and Jeff arrived. Charles greeted them on behalf of the CMCA and left to teach an (online) university class. 
Grant McOmie interviewing Barbara Bennett
with Jeff Kastner recording it all

Perry Reeder describes  the Bayocean that once was,
while standing where kids waited for the school bus:
across from Mitchell's store on the south side of 12th.

Watching Grant, it's easy to see how he gets people to feel comfortable and open up: he's an engaging fellow who is genuinely interested in what folks have to say. Barbara, Harold, and Perry seemed to enjoy telling their stories, and the telling helped us all imagine the Bayocean they once knew. Visiting the "townsite" that Perry and Sarah set up on the spit really got Harold and Perry going. 

The last part of the day was spent visiting the Pagoda house(s) and two others moved to Bayocean that are still standing. I showed them the house that was built using wood salvaged from the Natatorium that I'll post on in the future. I had tried to stay off-camera all day but got tagged at the end because all the more interesting folks had left. Grant's Getaway: Bayocean is a pleasure to watch despite that. 

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Barbara Bennett

Since I've used Barbara Bennett as a source in past posts, and likely will in the future, I thought it would be good to let readers get to know her better.

Barbara moved to the village of Cape Meares in 1943 with her parents, Milton and Edith Schlegel, and brothers Jerry and Jim. The original Bayocean Park plat included Cape Meares (see Cape Meares and Bayocean) so the children all went to Bayocean School together. The schoolhouse was actually closer to Cape Meares than central Bayocean. 

Barbara had fifteen classmates during her seventh and eighth grade years at Bayocean School. They included her older brother Jerry, Perry Reeder, Ernest Knutson, and the Bennett siblings Harold, Rosemarie, and James, and the Sherwood siblings. She graduated eight grade with Ernest Knutson in 1945, attended ninth through twelfth grades at Tillamook Junior High School, and graduated in 1949. 

Soon after graduation, Barbara married her classmate James Bennett, which is why she stayed in Cape Meares when her family moved to Forest Grove. Jim and Barbara moved to Fort Ord where he served as a military policeman until they returned to Cape Meares in 1954. Since then Barbara has never left. She worked in the Tillamook Cheese Factory for many years and raised her family. 

Jim was interviewed in a video by Rick Dancer called "Oregon Ghost Towns: Bay Ocean, the saddest story of all" in 2005. Jim died nine years later. His father Lewis Bennett was the primary source of information for the Webbers (who spelled his name incorrectly as "Louis" ) in  Bayocean: The Oregon Town that Fell Into the Sea. Jim's brother Harold still lives in the Cape Meares home their father remodeled after moving there from Bayocean. 

I am sorry to report that Barbara died on April 7, 2019. A nice obituary ran in the Tillamook Headlight-Herald

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Cassin’s Auklets Wreck Hits Bayocean

This winter tens of thousands of dead Cassin's Auklets have appeared on beaches all along the Pacific Coast, 10 to 100 times normal rates, according to the University of Washington report "Cassin's Auklet North Pacific Winter Wreck 2014-2015". Volunteers with COASST and CoastWatch have been collecting and counting specimens, many of which were autopsied to determine cause of death. Audubon Magazine's "Lost at Sea: Starving Birds in a Warming World" agrees with UW and others that the dead birds are juveniles who starved for reasons associated with global warming.

Photo by D. Derickson of COASST

Unfortunately, Bayocean participated in this "wreck". In a CoastWatch report on December 26, 2014, Cape Meares resident Olli Olikainen counted 126 dead auklets along Mile 289, which is at the northern end of the ocean side of the spit, and 121 dead auklets along Mile 286.  The Cape Meares Community Association web site lists others who helped out: Keith and Anita Johanson, BJ Byron, Kevin and Kathy Burke, Carolyn Olikainen, Wendy Kunkel, Dave Audet, John Harland, Ciel Downing, Rod Pelson, and Pete Steen. Thanks to all of you for doing this unpleasant but important work.

The good new is that Olli saw no dead birds on March 30, 2015 , just a few remaining bones and feathers. Hopefully all  seen on Bayocean in the future will be flying by like little tennis balls against the backdrop of a coastal sunset.

Photo by Jamie Chavez via Flickr Creative Commons
Photo by Julio Mulero via Flickr Creative Commons


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Zoning Change For Bayocean Moves Forward

Map by John Harland
On April 9, 2015, the Tillamook County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to direct the Tillamook County Planning  Department to initiate steps to change the zoning of Bayocean Spit from Recreation Management (RM) to Recreation Normal (RN). If finalized, this change, which was requested by the Cape Meares Community Association (CMCA), would preclude commercial development like the recent  Bay Ocean LLC proposal to build an eco-park, which was rejected by Tillamook County Planning Commission.

John Harland was the primary spokesperson for the CMCA. He argued that any commercial development on Bayocean would be inappropriate for reasons detailed at the CMCA web site. Vic Affolter, Deborah Neal, Chris Spence, and Charles J. Ansorge also spoke in favor of the zone change. See the  notes taken by Ansorge, CMCA President.

According to multiple sources, including a story in the Tillamook County Pioneer, approximately 50 people attended the special workshop, with most of them in favor of the change. An article in the Tillamook Headlight Herald covered the one exception at great length. Chris Stellflug said that his family's desire to build a cabin on the shoreline of Cape Meares Lake had been stymied by zone changes since buying the property in the 1960s. They also may want to build a commercial fish farm in Cape Meares Lake, most of which covers land owned by them. As long as the proposed zone change has no effect on them, Stellflug said they would  not object to it. Commissioners Tim Josi and Mark Labart both made statements supporting that outcome.

This decision to proceed by the Board of County Commissioners is just the first step. After the Planning Department drafts a proposal, their Planning Commission will hold public hearings and make a recommendation to the Board of County Commissioners. Josi expected that process to take about four months.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Changes in Bayocean Beaches Studied by DOGAMI

Jonathan Allan, a coastal geomorphologist with the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI), is leading the Oregon Beach and Shoreline Mapping and Analysis Program which is mapping and analyzing changes in beach profiles along the Oregon coast, including seven sites on Bayocean. Their mission is to “provide important information concerning the temporal (time) and spatial (cross-shore) variability of the shape of a section of beach.” Bayocean is one of three sub-cells within the Rockaway littoral cell, which spans the shoreline between Cape Meares and Neahkahnie Mountain.

"Littoral” is defined as the area from where waves splash on a beach, just above the high water mark, out to the continental shelf. As for "littoral cells", let's turn to the Scripps Institute of Oceanography :

All coasts are divided into natural compartments called littoral cells. Each cell contains a complete cycle of sedimentation including sources, transport paths, and sinks. The presence of sand on any particular beach depends on the transport of sand within the cell. When structures such as dams or harbors interfere with sand transport, downcoast beaches will erode. Therefore, the littoral cell and its budget of sediment are essential planning tools for regional and coastal management.

“Littoral drift” refers to the migration of sand up and down a coastline, caused by wave action. Because of the sand that accumulated north of the north jetty at Barview, the Corps of Engineers assumed that there was a southward littoral drift along the Oregon coast; but in in1973 Thomas Terich, a doctoral candidate in the Oceanography School at Oregon State University showed that there was the littoral drift in the Rockaway cell was net near zero. He and his advisor, Professor Paul Komar, made Terich's findings public the same year in  Development and Erosion History of Bayocean Spit, Tillamook, OregonThey pointed out that if sand were continually moving south, the beach at Barview would have continued growing until it reached the end of the jetty, which is obviously not the case. And the south side of Cape Meares is made up of rock and gravel rather than sand. They also broke a long-held belief that jetty construction had no effect in cases of net-zero littoral drift. 
Komar's next student, master's candidate Jose Roman Lizarraga-Arciniega, confirmed that net-zero drift applied to all of the littoral cells along the Oregon Coast. Their 1975 co-authored  Shoreline Changes Due to Jetty Construction on the Oregon Coast helped me understand that building a jetty replicates the geological process of creating a small cape. The established, seasonally-reversing, littoral cell is cut in two, and two smaller cells are formed on each side. If you look at any cape along the Oregon Coast, you will see that sand beaches round off the edges on each side. That sand comes from the shores between the capes. Those natural processes engage very quickly to create the same effect on each side of a new jetty. 
In the summers following the construction of Tillamook's north jetty, the sand that accumulated north of it came from such a long expanse of coastline (up to Neahkahnie) that the loss of it was negligible in any one location. The distance from the jetty to Cape Meares, on other hand, was very short, so sand removed in the winter was more noticeable, and it never returned because bay waters flowing out the inlet washed it all out to sea twice a day. As soon as construction of the south jetty began, in 1969, sand began filling the "embayment" created by it and continue to do so until a new shoreline ran parallel to predominant winter wave crests. Only then did Bayocean erosion come to an end. 
Oregon coast beaches naturally fluctuate on an annual cycle. Winter storms pull sand offshore and the milder waves of summer move it back. But the beach is never exactly the same. In The Pacific Northwest Coast (1992) Professor Komer explained why this is important for potential beach home buyers: “New retirees arrive from the Midwest in summer to settle into the comfort of a beach home fronted by a wide beach and gentle surf, only to see the sand disappear during the next winter and the waves lapping at their doors.” 

This is the dynamic that Jonathan Allan is studying for DOGAMI. He has co-authored several publications with Paul Komer 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Bayocean Lots in the Pacific Ocean

Several books, journals, and newspaper articles say individuals own Bayocean lots now located in the Pacific Ocean. I wondered if this was still the case, and what taxes were being assessed.

A perusal of documents and maps available online at the Tillamook County Assessor's webpage shows 46 private tax lots (not including county and federal) owned by 43 individuals, trusts, or corporations, located in "Bayocean Park". Only 12 of them are on land. The other 34 are in the Pacific Ocean. 

On page 120 of Bayocean: The Oregon Town that Fell Into the Sea (1999) Bert and Margie Webber reported owners explaining "their lot was willed to them 'and it wouldn't be right to part with it.'" Unsettled estates held some property. A few people were willing to pay the small annual tax just because of emotional attachment. Bert's son Dale recently told me by phone that folks his father called were insulted when he asked them if they realized the land they were paying taxes on was in the ocean. Because, of course, asking the question implied Bert thought they were stupid. So, he quit calling. Some thought the land might someday rise again from the ocean and be cherished by their descendants. Sand accretion after the construction of the south jetty fueled their hopes.

Today, maintaining a Bayocean lot for emotional reasons doesn't cost anything because Tillamook County values them at zero because nothing permanent can be built on them. The Summary Report for many of the lots in the Pacific Ocean includes this note: "EXEMPTION: WEST OF VEG LINE, ALL 307.450". One exception is Bay Ocean LLC, the company that proposed an eco-park; and it's only paying $18.75 per year for 53 acres. 

The map below is from the Tillamook County Assessor's web page. It shows lots in the ocean located west of what is now the beach connecting Bayocean spit to Cape Meares, parallel to the Dike Road. The jagged, dotted line roughly approximates the modern shoreline. Additional maps cover property ownership on Bayocean north of this. Posting them all would take up too much space.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Bayocean Eco-park Rejected By Tillamook County Planning Commission

A January 12, 2015 the Tillamook Headlight-Herald reported that at a public hearing on January 8th the Tillamook County Planning Commission denied the conditional use permit  requested by Dale Bernards (Bay Ocean LLC) to build an eco-resort on the 53 acres that he owns on Bayocean .The Tillamook County Planning Commission web page has an audio recording of the hearing and minutes of their November 13 meeting pertaining to the subject.

The Tillamook County Pioneer ran a story May 3, 2014 titled "Owner of proposed Bayocean eco-resort invites county to purchase land", which suggests Bernard's underlying purpose. It includes useful history on land ownership and usage on Bayocean. They later reported that Bernard had not filed an appeal of the decision by the January 22nd deadline, and that he was cryptic about future plans.

A 23-page Bayocean Park report submitted to Tillamook County on August 27th was produced by Stephens Planning and Design, and the students of a University of Oregon "Green Cities" course, instructed by Ric Stephens.  The report was comprehensive and and well produced, containing information of value to Bayocean aficionados far beyond the eco-resort plans: current and historic maps, a history of Bayocean, details regarding fauna and flora, photos, graphics, and references to sources of more information. Especially helpful in my own search to understand how the past and present of Bayocean comes together is a plat of the original town site laid over a modern bird's eye view of the spit. Unfortunately the URL is no longer valid. 

Residents of Cape Meares, the village at the south end of Bayocean, formed the Save Our Spit Committee after learning of the proposed eco-resort. They sponsored the survey referenced earlier and submitted 156 pages as "Exhibit C: Written Testimony Part 2 " to the Planning Commission. It includes a scrapbook of photos called "This is Bayocean Spit", reports on geology, wildlife, potential eco-resort impacts, early Native American use of Bayocean, and much more.
The Oregon Coast Alliance has a web page dedicated to campaign against Bernard's Bayocean development . Their testimony was "Exhibit C: Written Testimony Part 1" . At 224 pages it also contains a mass of information.

Controversial as it may be, the proposed Bayocean Park has produced a collection of information that should be of interest to anyone interested in Bayocean's history and geography.