[Tweeters] Re: Fill Update

Jane Hadley hadleyj1725 at gmail.com
Sat Mar 7 14:40:32 PST 2015

Jeff Gibson asked for someone to provide "a brief synopsis" of the WOS
monthly meeting Monday night (March 2). The program was a presentation
by Seattle Audubon folks about how WSDOT (Washington State Department of
Transportation) and other government agencies plan to "mitigate"
wetlands damage from the construction of a new SR-520 bridge across Lake
Washington. The current plans call for mitigations in about 15
locations around the state, including the Montlake Fill. The
presentation Monday night concerned the plans for Montlake Fill, also
known as the Union Bay Natural Area.

The impression I had from the presentation was that Seattle Audubon
believes the mitigations at the Fill will have very negative effects for
birders and for birds, especially shorebirds. It appears that when
WSDOT does wetland mitigation, its main aim is to avoid being sued. It
implements a standard formula with little concern for local conditions
or for whether the mitigations will actually succeed at anything. The
mitigations are very salmon-centric, even though there will be no salmon
benefit at the Fill.

The major mitigations planned for the Fill involves "buffering" (that
is, surrounding) ponds with vegetation intended to shade the ponds and
to keep people out. They will also create a shallow pond and a swampy
area, but neither is expected to provide valuable habitat. So Seattle
Audubon's conclusion is that the mitigations will do nothing for
shorebirds, and will keep birders away from ponds. It also will likely
also significantly decrease breeding habitat for Savannah Sparrows. In
the end, Seattle Audubon thought that the mitigations would result in
more mallards and "backyard birds" at the Fill, no shorebirds, and fewer
to none of the less common birds that show up there now. They believe
the mitigations clearly violate the management plan for the Fill. They
said that the botanical society, which manages the Union Bay Natural
Area, also is unhappy about the plan.

Seattle Audubon said it had offered a number of alternative suggestions
for mitigation at the Fill, but the agencies were not receptive.

More information from Seattle Audubon is at: http://goo.gl/Lv4rIE

Jane Hadley
WOS Board Member

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