This year’s Whidbey Island landslides stirred up a lot of interest in the issue, prompting a crowd of more than 100 to turn out for an informational seminar on shoreline bluffs.
The seminar presented by the city of Langley was held in response to the widely publicized landslides in Ledgewood Beach on Central Whidbey and Cascade Avenue in Langley, said Jeff Arango, director of community planning. The purpose was to educate bluff property owners on a range of issues associated with landslides and inform city dwellers of the Shoreline Master Plan update adopted May 6.
“We have already made changes that include stronger standards for storm water management. If you are developing property, there are stronger requirements for restoring and maintaining vegetation,” Arango said.
Speakers for the event included Terry Swanson from the Department of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington and Elliott Menashe from Greenbelt Consulting. The speakers explained natural movement of bluff environments and answered questions from community members regarding best practices, when to cut trees and storm water management.
Menashe explained one problem in the Cascade Avenue landslide area is the limited vegetation. “There’s not enough vegetation to support the structure because we keep cutting it down. It would be fine if we just let it grow, but this is a high traffic area,” he said. Brush on the bluff has been kept trimmed in part to maintain the gorgeous view of Puget Sound and the Cascade Mountains.
Major suggestions for citizens worried about protecting their homes from bluff erosion included: Avoid building too close to the bluff, maintain vegetation and manage storm water.
“We had a really good turnout, we were happy to see so many people interested,” Arango said. “It’s always fun to see the turnout on these events and we had a lot of positive feedback.”