Old Diary

The Trouble with Dunes

2013122516134877Is that you have to climb up them and then back down again!

And that is what we did yesterday afternoon… finally.  We haven’t done a lot of walking/hiking since getting here and Peggy has been putting off the ups and downs of the dunes until our ‘sand legs’ improved a little.  Christmas day was a good day to have a nice long walk.   With temperatures hovering around 50° and a bright sunny sky who could resist the urge?  And we weren’t alone.  These beaches seem never to be crowded this time of year but there were numerous cars in the lot and a few OHV’ers out — even on a holiday afternoon.  2013122516020370

All kidding about our ability to manage the dunes aside it was nice.  We don’t do ‘hiking’ anymore — we’re much more into ‘walking.’  What a glorious day for a walk.  We stayed on the pedestrian side of the warning sign.  The sign marks the end of the OHV area, and the beginning of the pedestrian only region.  And in the area where we walked even dogs are restricted.  It’s protected. westernsnowyplover

The area in which we walked is Driftwood II, and it’s right on the edge of Snowy Plover territory.   The Plovers here are endangered!  They had the misfortune of choosing to live and breed on stretches of beach that are disappearing rapidly and the designation of ‘endangered’ has made them cause celebre by very dedicated volunteers, who literally rope off about 12 miles of beach every year during the birds’ stay in this part of the world each year.  We have a shipping container here at the compound that is loaded with supplies for the Snowy Plover ‘people’ — and we see them from time to time.  volunteers man the dunes at the appropriate parts of the year, they spread the word about Snowy Plover, and they monitor the activities on the beach to insure a least-disturbed season for the birds.  I don’t know if they are making progress in the numbers of mating pairs; I don’t know if they really know — but they ARE dedicated!  And they are really nice people.

Patterns in the Sand

I’ve always been fascinated by patterns.  I guess that’s part of what I like about any beach — these patterns that appear and disappear at the whim of Momma Nature.  There is more science to them than I know.  And I don’t try to understand them through science.  I’m quite happy to be there and just be amazed at God’s handiwork.

There are so many levels on which the Oregon Dunes are amazing.  I may personally not understand the fascination with Off Highway Vehicles, but I sure can understand why so many people from all over the world come here to recreate.  And there are areas where almost anyone can find space to do what they want.

The waves were… well, how would I know — I’m from Wisconsin.  I’d say there were some in the 10′ range, but I’m not the guy to just such things.  The tide was coming back in.  And there was enough really WET sand to make our walk along the shoreline fun and easy.

Today we are back to the Visitor’s Center and back to work.  We’re going to meet with the Staffer in charge of collections to see what we can learn about ways to make the volunteers duties easier.  I’m not much for messing around with money as a volunteer — I figure that’s what they have paid staff for.  But the way duties are distributed here there might be something we can learn that would be of value to us volunteers.

Thanks for stopping by.  I hope you all had a great holiday and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.


3 thoughts on “The Trouble with Dunes

  1. Mrs. P says:

    Oddly, I get the”save the snow plover” thing. In Florida, it’s all about the leather-back turtle and their nesting season. For four months of the year it is illegal to have lights that shine on the beach at night, they fine you $1000 for each violation. Keep in mind we are a coastal community that has 10-20 floor high rise condos up and down the coast. All of those vacationers have to comply as well. So there are lots of signs posted in all condos and by the beach. I couldn’t for the life of me see why this was such a big deal. I learned that they had become endangered because they were hunted for their shells. But, I got to see a “hatching” this year and it is truly an amazing sight, hundreds, if not thousands of turtles come up from under the sand and head to the open ocean, instinctively knowing this is their home. Reports are that they have been having a succession of successful hatchings and the trend is way up. I don’t know how many survive in the long run but it is good news and looks hopeful that they will come off the endangered list.

    Although that is good news we have a more serious, developing problem of dolphin, manatee and pelicans dying off in very high numbers. Scientists are working hard to determine the actual causes. At this point they may be looking at two separate situations because the manatees look healthy and other animals that eat the same food don’t seem to have any problem. But the dolphins and pelicans both eat fish, are emaciated and the problem seems to be up and down the Atlantic, not just isolated to Florida. I do hope they find out what is causing these problems as they really are all beautiful creature that offer us humans the pleasure of their presence.


    • How interesting about the restrictions on behalf of the turtles! I truly think that somehow when we get done here in the NW that we are going to have to try spending some time in FL.

      I get the Save the Plover campaign but I have mixed feelings. The very reason we are having to save them now is that ‘we’ (the U.S. population and particularly the Federal Gov’t) decided that we needed to ‘save’ the dunes and we planted non-indigenous grasses to stabilize the dunes and the grasses took over and in turn ruined the breeding grounds up and down the OR coast.

      We were in FL last January – our first successful attempt at getting to FL in about 10 years. WE tried year after year to get down there and every time we made plans we’d get close to our departure and there would be serious weather in FL so we made last minute changes and went elsewhere. Peg and I are particularly fascinated by pelicans and dolphins so it’s saddening to hear that there are serious problems going on with them. There are so many influences we have thrown into the works and I fear that we are way ignorant on what our impact on the world around is us.

      Anyway… Might be a fitting comeuppance on condo owners — that fine…

      Not sure about condos. Might like or not like it I am pretty sure we won’t ever own bricks and sticks again but never say ‘never’!


      • Mrs. P says:

        Interesting details about saving the dunes actually destroyed the breeding ground.

        As far as condos go…I was shocked and horrified when I first saw the Florida coastline. Massive condos along the shore…you couldn’t see the ocean. But I did drive through Norfolk VA and it is not as bad as VA. The concept of cluttering beaches with buildings is and was completely foreign to me. I’ve gotten used to it now and in fact, one of my clients was the financier of the first highrise. I’m still not sure if that is really a neat thing or not. He is a very nice man, old scho, very polite…and is still working at 95….I guess people just have different visions. Fortunately, not all of Florida coastline has been ravaged in this way.

        There are two really goo things about condo on/near the beach. Daytona Beach sits on a peninsula. There is beachside and mainland which is divided by the Halifax river, part of the Intracoastal river that goes all the way from NY to the Keys. You get up at least five floors high and you have the most stunning views of the river/ocean. I really prefer the river views because there are boats, fishing, etc. But the ocean views, though not offering as much continuous view has special things like marine mammals…which are especially fun to watch when they are in a playful mood and do flips and such. They perform naturally. I think amusement parks just captured and profited on something that was already instinctive. I can see the dolphin in captivity silently sneering at the trainer when being offered a mackerel for jumping up in the air, parasailing, they even had a sailing race…wish I had known as it would have been an awesome picture.

        What I do get to see, almost daily is the pelicans. I am completely in love with them. When I am working they fly right by the balcony, just ten feet away…so graceful and truly magnificent in flight. One day, I am going to get a camera that is good enough to take a picture and I’ll post it. Peg would love these birds…up close and personal.

        Okay…the bad news about condo life is that the association fees are outrageous…salt water destroys buildings…lots of maintenance.


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