COVID-19's Impact on our COASST Fieldwork
In a way, it’s hard to believe that we’re still having to deal with COVID-19. I remember the day when our governor (Washington State) announced a list of business closures. It just so happens we got the news while driving home after one of our COASST bird surveys. Our monthly fieldwork we do for the COASST program is something we look forward to.
At the time if felt as if this would be something we had to endure for a couple of weeks. Little did I realize that months would go by with our National Parks closed. And even though the park in which we conduct our survey is open the campground where we set up base camp is not.
However, with a bit of creative problem solving we’ve gotten back out in the field to conduct our surveys. I really wasn’t sure what to expect when we headed out on the trail which eventually deposits us on our beach. Nature is blissfully unaware of our human plight, but we have seen big changes in our section of the beach due to storms and such.
Things were pretty much as we had left them. The vista was as awe-inspiring as ever and we found our landmarks without issue. One of the things we monitor ever survey is the presence of people. How many we see, etc. There certainly was an uptick in the number we crossed during our survey, but while maintaining social distancing, it was actually nice to engage in a bit of conversation with others!
As I sit here and think about that last sentence I realize it’s probably incorrect. I think Nature is very much aware of our plight. It seems seas are less noise and marine life is doing noticeably better in many areas. Air quality is much better in many urban areas. The list goes on.
For the naysayers who doubt the impact of humans on our planet perhaps they’ll rethink their position. But maybe not.
Finding a new location for our fieldwork base
Perhaps the biggest impact on our conducting surveys, besides the park suspending our collection permits, was that closure of the Quileute Oceanside Resort where we made our basecamp. Not only was it a great place to camp but it was also very close to the trailhead leading out to Toleak Beach. As I write this they’re still closed. Point-in-fact, the entire reservation is closed to the public.
Hipcamp to the rescue. If you’re not familiar with Hipcamp, it’s very much like Airbnb; people with land allowing members to camp on that land. It like our Washington State Parks, some are full of amenities, while others are just bare bones. It pays to do your research.
The issue we had been facing was that in the past there weren’t really any options out in the Forks, La Push area. However, that’s no longer the case and I’ve found a couple not far from Forks. We booked a stay at a local site and found it to be very conducive to our needs. (note: as of this article, I’m no longer seeing that site listed. If she comes back online I’ll amend the article with a link.)
Now we just need to see what fall and it’s effect on the COVID-19 virus has in store for us.