Chico Bay, a portion of Dyes Inlet near Silverdale, may be closing to commercial shellfish harvesting due to bacteria. This is of interest to farmers as farmers have been consistently accused of causing the bacteria contamination shutting down shellfish beds in Whatcom and Skagit counties. But, where the farms near Chico Bay?

Washington state has consistently pointed out that urban encroachment in marine areas is a primary cause of bacteria contamination, which makes a good argument for why we need to keep farmland in those areas. Farmers in Whatcom and Skagit have pointed to the large population of wintering birds on their lands as a significant source, which has been poo pooed by some. However, this news story suggests that it may be the birds that are causing the contamination. If that turns out to be the case, those concerned about water quality should be looking much more at the ever increasing winter bird population in Whatcom and Skagit. State officials estimated about 18,000 swans in those two counties this winter, and many hundreds of thousands of snow geese, let alone Canada geese and ducks. We all love them, but they do significant damage to fields, and leave their substantial droppings behind during the rainiest season while digging up the fields turning them to mud contributing to the runoff into streams. While the birds are doing this to the farm fields, regulations appropriately keep farmers from applying manure to those wet fields to avoid runoff. This is why farmers get pretty frustrated with those who keep blaming farmers without knowing what is really going on.