Joe Creek Estuary, Pacific Beach

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Pacific Beach is a coastal community 11 miles (18 km) south of Moclips, 8 miles (13 km) north of Copalis Beach, and 25 air miles (40 km) northwest of Hoquiam, Washington. The Joe Creek estuary is a strongly stratified lagoon, with fresh water overlying saline water, caused by a shallow sill at the mouth of the estuary that restricts circulation.

The mouth of Joe Creek was first settled in 1863 by Henry Blodgett, a pioneer trapper and hunter. He homesteaded 160 acres and eventually gave part of his land to P.H. Roundtree. In 1903, Roundtree began platting the townsite he called Joe Creek which was later changed to Pacific Beach. In 1906, a hotel was built along the bluff called The Quinault Inn and later became the Pacific Beach Hotel. In 1942, the U.S. Navy opened a gunnery school at the Pacific Beach Hotel, the guest rooms were converted to barracks, the hotel restaurant and ballroom became a large cafeteria to serve the 350 navy personnel, and other hotel space became classrooms and offices. In 1948, the U.S Air Force installed radar equipment for aircraft detection and the Pacific Beach station transmitted data to a control center at Paine Field in Everett. The Pacific Beach Hotel again served as barracks and offices, and the former resort's cottages provided additional housing. In 1958, the U.S. Navy commissioned a Sound Surveillance System at the former radar station at Pacific Beach. This secret facility was identified as a Naval Facility conducting oceanographic research, but was actually technology developed to track Soviet submarines. In 1987, the Pacific Beach facility was decommissioned and the base was turned over to Puget Sound Naval Station at Bremerton and later to Naval Station Everett for use as a recreation and conference center.

Development along the coast has created water quality issues, in particular the North Beach area that extends approximately 22 miles (35 km) from Ocean Shores northward to Moclips. In 2011, popular razor clam beaches were closed because of high fecal coliform bacteria concentrations. People and animals are the source of the bacteria that can come from malfunctioning septic systems, leaky sewer infrastructure, improperly managed dog and horse manure on the beach, and wildlife may also contribute to a lesser degree. When razor clam beaches are closed due to bacteria, the local economy suffers. Razor clam digging bring around $13.5 million in total dollars spent by diggers and their families in the North Beach area. That estimate includes money spent near the beaches on hotels, camping, restaurants, groceries, gas, shopping, gambling, and other related expenses. Read more here and here. Download the latest version of the CoastView app and explore more of Pacific Beach here:


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