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Battelle to map shoreline for county

Clallam County hasn’t started its Shoreline Master Plan revisions yet, but officials know they will need tools and research when the process kicks off.

The plan will need to be revised by 2011 and the Marine Resources Committee is planning ahead, hiring Battelle to record 25 percent of the county’s shoreline with video and mapping technologies.

The committee is a stakeholder group charged with finding collaborative ways to improve wildlife habitat, shellfish harvests and marine life recovery.

“We have not begun the official document revisions, however the committee is tasked with bolstering the planning process,” committee chairman Doug Morrell said, “which is why we are doing this video mapping. So I want to underline the fact that this project is not regulatory and is not intended to discover things like illegal outfalls, but rather educational.”

Battelle scientists with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Sequim will take video of the shoreline from about 100 yards away from the beach, starting at Freshwater Bay and ending at the tip of the Dungeness Spit.

“The video is taken from a standard video camera, but the interesting technology is this geographic information system converter that transmits positional information into the camera with audio signals through the microphone port,” said Battelle research scientist Mike Anderson. “Ultimately the information will become a combined mapping system and video log of the shoreline.”



Important information

The video will establish baseline data regarding structures on or in the water, shoreline armoring, feeder bluffs, eroding banks, available vegetation as well as taking a snapshot of spawning beaches and other fish forage sites.

“This will be incredibly useful to us and the planning process,” Morrell said. “For instance, with the changes expected around the mouth of the Elwha River after the dam removal, it will be good to have baseline information now to compare to how things turn out.”

Morrell said the $45,000 in federal dollars, which are funding the project, could only cover five miles of shoreline, but indicated he hoped to do similar projects for the rest of the waterway.

“There are a lot of opportunities in Sequim Bay,” he said. “Really, this video will also serve as a catalogue of potential projects that we could fund in the future, such as the restoration of failing sites or the protection of currently viable, but threatened areas.”



Educational

The video and mapping information ultimately will be available online for the public to use in addition to the Marine Resources Committee and other natural resource planners.

“I think this will be a great educational tool for students in our area and the public in general,” Morrell said. “It will go along nicely with the underwater video we have been taking for the past couple of years.”

The underwater video catalogued existing kelp fields, eel grass beds and other submarine necessities for aquatic life. Morrell said as the two studies are paired, planners can begin looking to future progress with a better idea of the current situation, both above and below the waterline.

Battelle’s Safe Boat will hug shorelines this week, recording information for the project.

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