If you want to build sandcastles on the south side of Alsea Bay, go right ahead – have fun. But if you show up with a chain saw or a pickup with a winch on it, somebody will likely call the cops on you.
Both the Port of Alsea and the Waldport City Council next week are expected to make it illegal to remove driftwood from the south bank of the Alsea River east of the Alsea Bay Bridge all the way to the Port of Alsea.
Big trees that wash down the Alsea River generally get hung up on the sand bar on the south side of the river, east of the bridge. And because of that the trees are marooned there. But that’s a good thing because they hold the sand in place so that the south bank doesn’t erode and take out the northern tip of Waldport, along with a line of houses built just behind the bluff.
Alsea Port Manager Maggie Rivers says it was in 2009 that woodcutters pulled a big pile of trees off the beach, cut them up for firewood and hauled it all away to sell. Immediately after that the erosion of the sandbar became more and more noticeable. Eventually everyone put two-and-two together and figured out that the river knew what it was doing by depositing the trees at that location. And if something wasn’t done about it, the northern tip of Waldport would soon start getting water in their front doors.
So the Port of Alsea Board and the Waldport City Council started talking and they came up with a new rule that bans removing big pieces of wood from the beach running along the south shore from the bridge clear east to the Port of Alsea’s boat launch. And it’ll be enforced by local law enforcement.
Port commissioners have already passed the rule and next Thursday the Waldport City Council is expected to do the same.
The rules ban the wholesale removal of trees or cut up pieces for removal, even if they’re not for sale. But small pieces suitable for decorating a home or a porch are okay to remove – no charge. It will also be legal to build beach fires from wood on the beach. But no more chain saws or pickups. Those folks who sell firewood will have to get their raw materials the old fashioned way – by permit from local land owners, state forestry, or the U.S. Forest Service – no longer from the south side of Alsea Bay from the bridge to the port.
The new law takes effect next Thursday upon adoption by the Waldport City Council.