Sunday, March 6, 2011

Moving Sand, Changing Beaches

There has been a lot of angst and discussion over local beaches lately, mostly spurred by all of the rock retaining walls that have been built over the past five years or so. One thing we often forget — or have never thought about, perhaps? — is that beaches are dynamic. They are constantly changing and what the ocean takes away during storms and winter tides, it eventually delivers back. I've been doing a lot of research about Long Beach in the last few years and came across this observation from the late Pete Hillier of Ucluelet, who spent a great deal of time on Long Beach in the 1920s.

"We used to go into the Long Beach area frequently and pack deer back to the village. Thought nothing of it, but I wouldn't do it now."

It was on one of these trapping and hunting expeditions that Hillier recalls seeing "about three miles of Long Beach completely without sand. It was in 1929, all that was left on the beach was boulders and clay and then a little while later the sand was back on the beach, just like it had been before and after."

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