[Tweeters] King County rarities (not)
birders.2341 at comcast.net
Sat May 15 22:11:21 PDT 2021
Not that I any real academic level biological knowledge or significant birding knowledge, but still having been involved in birding for many years, having lived in the Puget Sound Basin since 1959 and having been an electrical engineer involved in many public works projects, I have some understanding on how the restoration design process works. Firstly, the primary emphasis is salmon habitat restoration. The ACOE has developed certain guidelines - there may be numerical scores and of course the ones that favor salmon habitat restoration are highly favored. Willows and other woody plants provide shade and cover for salmon and other fish species as well as for birds. Such plants also prevent erosion. Then the designers of these restoration projects are always operating under extremely limited budgets and do not have time to develop any real original design approaches for the site. Almost always the funding for the restoration projects comes from other mega-projects and is very limited. To get the design and construction completed within the budget, the designers are basically forced to use what we perceive as a cookie cutter approach. Developing a fully site-specific design that might depart from the ACOE design guidelines would require far too much coordination. The design criteria would typically require following ACOE design guidelines, even though they may not be the best approach for a particular site. But following those guidelines is safe. When the ACOE reviews the design, not following the guidelines would certainly be a red flag. In my perception that was certainly the case at the Montlake fill site. The funding for that was just a small sliver of the overall funding for the 520-project. The Fill restoration was just a small line item in the overall budget and probably got Just passing attention from the project management. With all this focus, the overall design and construction budget for the Fill was very limited. Despite the emphasis in the birding community towards more open muddy areas for shorebird habitat, that did not receive significant attention during the design process. Additionally, there are numerous other competing community interests, including horticultural, and the perceptions of the public just walking through, who may or may not appreciate the significance of good shorebird habitat. All these considerations plus the budgetary limitations certainly forced the Fill landscape architects towards the design that was implemented. I mentioned the review process above. Often the time allotted for a review is limited. With ACOE, the review process may be more properly budgeted and developed, but the individuals doing the review have other responsibilities as well. During my professional career, there were times when I was tasked with doing an electrical design review for a major project and had less than 8 hours to become familiar with the project and provide detailed comments.
Anyway. that is my point-of-view from having been active in the birding community and having been on the other side as well. And as Steve Hampton writes the agencies always have extremely limited operations and maintenance budgets. As designers, that was always a major consideration, in that the design had to have low operation and maintenance costs.
From: Tweeters <tweeters-bounces at mailman11.u.washington.edu> On Behalf Of Steve Hampton
Sent: Saturday, May 15, 2021 21:36
To: Tweeters <tweeters at uw.edu>
Subject: Re: [Tweeters] King County rarities (not)
Dennis et al,
I've seen this same battle fought -- and lost -- in the San Francisco Bay area, where agencies would rather let spartina take over than manage for shorebirds, which generally requires active mgmt of water levels, as much an art as a science, especially if you're juggling tides, water quality issues, mosquitos, etc. The SF Bay Bird Observatory (SFBBO) collected lots of data and fought hard for shorebirds but ultimately got minimal results.
Years ago I wrote a paper on successful shorebird habitat creation at a managed wetland in Davis, CA. That paper is here and provides some evidence that it is possible: http://www.cvbirds.org/wp-content/themes/cvbirds/files/V.3no.4/V.3no.4pp54-59.pdf
I'm sure SFBBO has more material.
On Sat, May 15, 2021 at 7:02 PM Scott Downes <downess at charter.net <mailto:downess at charter.net> > wrote:
Michael, Dennis, Alan and other interested Tweeters. Completely agree on this and some of the other habitat restoration. Often it gets way too “cookbook”, I.e. let’s plant them all the same instead of looking at habitat value and what habitat types are limited in the area.
I believe the woody plant question comes from some of the cookbook wetland mitigation ratios developed. I think it would be an excellent engagement on this subject, probably starting with Dept of Ecology and Army Corp since they often are at the spear point of how wetland mitigation is directed.
Downess at charter.net <mailto:Downess at charter.net>
> On May 15, 2021, at 6:40 PM, birdmarymoor at gmail.com <mailto:birdmarymoor at gmail.com> wrote:
> Dennis - I've seen King County state the goal of reducing Reed Canary-Grass. This particular area in Redmond was a big, flat, Reed Canary-Grass meadow. They constructed the ponds and planted the willows which, they probably would say, are there to shade out the grass. (There may also be some Rules imposed by the state, or Federally, prohibiting leaving exposed mud, for fear that it will lead to turbidity in stream water, but that shouldn't be applicable in areas that are as level as this meadow).
> I think planting willows to get rid of Reed Canary-Grass is misguided. They did this on 204th St. down in the Kent area, converting a weedy farm field that seasonally flooded (providing excellent shorebird habitat) into a dense willow grove of many acres. The willows are drying this area and, if left alone, it will eventually become a Doug Fir forest in all likelihood. It will never again be a wetland.
> It's like they never took a Wetlands Ecology course, in which they might have learned the sequence of wetland succession. Willows coming in is the final stage, leading to soil drying and the deposition of additional soil. Only a major flood/scouring event will revert a willow thicket back to a nascent wetland (or beavers will do it, but they need an active stream to dam).
> I have long felt that educating the state and county about this should be the #1 priority of Seattle Audubon conservation efforts. Meadows should not be converted to forest, and wetland conservation should not destroy Class 3 wetlands by converting them to forests.
> = Michael
> -----Original Message----- From: Dennis Paulson
> Sent: Saturday, May 15, 2021 6:03 PM
> To: pan
> Cc: TWEETERS tweeters
> Subject: Re: [Tweeters] King County rarities (not)
> Alan, you made a good point here in your last sentence. I don’t know why people plant willows around wetlands like this, thereby fairly quickly destroying their value as shorebird habitat. It’s been done at Montlake Fill, it’s been done at Magnuson Park, and I know it’s been done at other constructed wetlands. Willows and cottonwoods come in soon enough on their own, and my recommendation has always been to actively manage for shorebirds—clear out the woody vegetation that invariably becomes established at such places and not only ruins it for shorebirds and some other wetland species but even eliminates the views that birders cherished before the trees blocked them.
> We have lots of trees in this area but not lots of open meadows and wetlands. What is not liked about the latter scarce habitats?
> I don’t know why the various agencies have this bias, and it would be good to bring out in the open and discuss in the environmental community. There seems to be no trace of an environmental master plan for the region.
> Dennis Paulson
>> On May 15, 2021, at 4:48 PM, pan <panmail at mailfence.com <mailto:panmail at mailfence.com> > wrote:
>> I made the wrong decision last minute this morning and went east to Redmond rather than my usual Discovery Park (where goodies reported). Just so you know it's not a given, I spent an hour scoping the wetlands off Avondale Road around 85th, and did not see Pectoral Sandpiper.
>> Greater Yellowlegs, 3
>> Spotted Sandpiper, 1
>> Long-billed Dowitcher, 1
>> Killdeer, ~4
>> Blue-winged Teal, 1
>> Cinnamon Teal, 1 (a couple females unidentified at distance)
>> Great Blue Heron
>> others, including a male Lazuli Bunting
>> The farthest east pond, also farthest from view, across from about 90th, where a couple Pectorals were reported yesterday, had only a yellowlegs and a couple crows wading. These wetlands will probably close up in a year or two with all the willows planted.
>> 15 May, 2021,
>> Alan Grenon
>> panmail AT mailfence.com <http://mailfence.com>
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Qatay, S'Klallam territory
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