[Tweeters] King County rarities (not)

Steve Hampton stevechampton at gmail.com
Mon May 17 09:30:35 PDT 2021

It seems there's a basic education need, even among non-birder biologists,
about shorebirds and their migratory stopover needs. This is of course a
huge public topic in the East re: the Red Knot. In the West, I know Arcata,
CA hosts Godwit Days every year as a birding festival-- and to raise local
awareness about shorebird migratory stopover habitat. Perhaps organizations
in Puget Sound can do something similar?

On Mon, May 17, 2021 at 9:24 AM Scuderi, Michael R CIV USARMY CENWS (USA) <
Michael.R.Scuderi at usace.army.mil> wrote:

> Kelly is right. The debate on the value of shorebird habitat goes back at

> least to the Auburn Downs Racetrack wetland mitigation in the mid-1990s. At

> that point Dr. Tom Hruby from Department of Ecology was developing the

> percussor to the current Washington State Wetland rating system. There

> were four major functions being assessed, Water Quality, Hydrologic

> functions, Fish habitat, and wildlife habitat. At that time, for wildlife

> habitat, there was a dichotomy between wetland models which ranked forested

> wetlands which favored riparian species (Bob Zeigler did a lot of work on

> this), and open water wetlands which supported waterfowl and shorebirds.

> At the time most people were not noticing the decline in freshwater

> wetlands, and were more worried about reestablishment of the forested

> wetlands that once predominated the Puget Sound lowlands (for a fun look at

> what was here check out Dawson and Bowles, 1909). To my chagrin, the

> forested wetland people won out, these wetlands get higher credit in

> mitigation formulas used then and now. That is in my opinion why we are

> seeing the drive towards more forested wetlands.


> A second factor is the buffer zone. One of the criteria used in the

> current Washington state wetland model is interspersion. A typical marsh

> with open water, mudflat, and then a rush/reed fringe gets a lower score

> than if you have a forested buffer around it (more interspersion).


> Finally, if you create a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW)

> Priority Habitat, you get a higher score. Forested wetlands are a priority

> habitat. Freshwater emergent habitat is not a priority habitat. Of course

> WDFW could be petitioned to make freshwater shorebird habitat a priority

> habitat.


> So basically, the books are stacked against wetlands that contain

> shorebird habitat. In addition, there are more maintenance costs in

> keeping up open water and mudflats, either through maintaining high water

> levels, eliminating reed canary grass, and removing encroaching willows and

> other water loving woody vegetation.


> This is a project that local Audubons and WOS might consider taking on to

> protect disappearing shorebird habitat. The M Street marsh in Auburn could

> be a good example to consider for shorebird/waterfowl habitat, though

> surveyors were out there recently (which is usually not a good thing).


> Mike Scuderi

> Cotinga777 at yahoo.com

> Kent, WA


> -----Original Message-----

> From: mcallisters4 at comcast.net <mcallisters4 at comcast.net>

> Sent: Saturday, May 15, 2021 6:17 PM

> To: 'TWEETERS tweeters' <tweeters at u.washington.edu>

> Subject: Re: [Tweeters] King County rarities (not)


> During the debate about wetland "restoration" and mitigation credits for

> the work at the Montlake Fill I weighed in agreeing with Dennis and the

> idea that the "highest and best" habitat value for this location was early

> successional wetland habitat that would be more likely to attract and

> provide basic support for species that have a difficult time finding

> suitable habitat elsewhere, like shorebirds. The primary wetland regulators

> in Washington, the Department of Ecology and the U.S. Army Corps of

> Engineers, establish how much credit given for creating different kinds of

> wetland conditions. A typical late successional type with a strong willow

> or shrub component gets the most credits, I believe.


> It would cost less to forego the planting of willows, Spiraea, and other

> woody plants, and, perhaps, the compensation could be a commitment to

> periodically set back succession to maintain open muddy shorelines and

> shallows.


> Kelly McAllister

> Formerly WSDOT, Olympia


> -----Original Message-----

> From: Tweeters <tweeters-bounces at mailman11.u.washington.edu> On Behalf Of

> Dennis Paulson

> Sent: Saturday, May 15, 2021 6:03 PM

> To: pan <panmail at mailfence.com>

> Cc: TWEETERS tweeters <tweeters at u.washington.edu>

> 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

> Seattle





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Steve Hampton
Port Townsend, WA
*Qatay, S'Klallam territory*
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