Share your king tide photos with state agency

January 9, 2011 

Get out your cameras and head to South Sound shorelines in two weeks to chronicle the highest tides of the year.

That’s what the state Department of Ecology is asking the public to do, for a couple of reasons.

First, Ecology officials would like to have visual images from the Washington coast and Puget Sound at extreme high tides to help them better understand specific areas in shoreline communities where home, commercial buildings, roads, utilities and other pieces of the built environment are most vulnerable to sea-level rise.

Second, they want to get people down to the waterfront to see for themselves what could be in store for their communities in the decades ahead.

“We’re hoping to get hundreds of photographs,” Ecology spokesman Curt Hart said. “If we got thousands, that would be fabulous.”

“We just don’t want photos of people posing,” Hart added. “And we don’t want people putting themselves in harm’s way during high tides.”

Ecology is calling this unusual public participation project the Washington King Tide Photo Initiative. Ecology will post the photos online at Flickr for everyone to see.

The so-called king tides, which occur just a few times each year, are windows into the future, identifying coastal areas that could be inundated with water as the sea continues to rise from global warming.

A 2008 report by the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group and Ecology estimated that sea-level rise associated with climate change could be anywhere from 3 inches to 22 inches by 2050.

Olympia, which sits at the southernmost point of Puget Sound, has the highest high tides and lowest low tides of any community in the Puget Sound area. For instance, the 17-foot high tide predicted in Olympia on the morning of Jan. 24 is more than 4 feet higher than the corresponding high tide in Seattle and more than 3 feet higher than the projected high tide in Tacoma that morning.

Combine that with a slowly subsiding land mass in South Sound and you can see why Olympia was the first city – 20 years ago – to take sea-level rise seriously in the Puget Sound regions.

Ecology officials hope their king tide initiative helps persuade other coastal communities to start planning for sea-level rise too.

To participate, follow these steps:

 • Join Ecology’s Flickr group at www.flickr.com/groups/1611274@N22.

 • Review the high-tide predictions for your area, including times and dates, at www.ecy.wa.gov/climate change/ipa_hightide.htm. Another series of king tides appear the mornings of Feb. 21-22.

 • Take photos during a high-tide event in your area and post them on Ecology’s Flickr group.

Good luck, and keep your feet dry.

HISTORIC CHURCH FOR SALE

The oldest church in Thurston County – and one of the oldest surviving churches in the state – is for sale.

The original Tumwater Methodist Church was built in 1872 at 219 B St. and has served several denominations over the years. Since 1991, it has been the Olympia Friends meeting house, otherwise known as South Sound’s Quaker congregation.

Looking for more space for their meetings, the Quakers have purchased the former American Legion building on Boston Harbor Road, which was home to the Olympia Salmon Club before that.

Remodeling on the Olympia Friends’ new meeting house, including the addition of two classrooms, is set to begin soon, and they expect to start holding all of their meetings there early this spring, Olympia Friends finance clerk Beth Rodman said.

The Tumwater church, which is on both the national and state historic registers, has been listing on the market for $350,000. But the owners are ready to drop the price and will list it again in a week or so at a reduced price, Rodman said.

Uses for the building, which sits in an old Tumwater residential neighborhood, are limited. Rodman said it has to be a church or residence or preschool – something that conforms to the residential zoning.

One good thing for the Quakers: They own the building outright, so it’s not a financial drain on the group, which averages 60 to 70 friends at its Sunday meetings.

It’s interesting to note that the church opened for worship nearly 140 years ago with debt-free owners too.

John Dodge: 360-754-5444 jdodge@theolympian.com

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