[Tweeters] Wylie Slough - update ...

jimbetz at jimbetz.com jimbetz at jimbetz.com
Thu Apr 14 21:05:56 PDT 2022

Hi all,

I actually got to talk to some of the people at WDFW today. The
bottom line (my interpretation) is that they are trying to eliminate
the "non-native" cattails in order to produce a "healthier" environment.
The cattails had taken over and had converted the Wylie wetlands into
a 'mono-environment' (very little vegetation other than cattails).
After additional probing he finally seemed to admit that the cattails
aren't so much 'exotics' with respect to the PNW ... they just aren't
natural (historically verifiable) as being present in the Skagit delta.
Some (most?) of that history has been provided by the tribes in the

The area was sprayed with an "approved for wetlands herbicide". It
pretty much killed all plant life it touched - it was not "specific
to just or even mostly the cattails" ... other than in their attempts
to only spray the cattails.
The most knowledgeable person I talked with said "we are learning
as we go" (my read is that this is -not- a process with enough
understanding to know what will/won't happen).
He did say they expected new growth to start happening "soon"
(4 weeks? or more?). He does not know if the new growth will
be cattails or the more desired sedges, etc. and is hoping for the
best. When I drove in to Wylie earlier this week I saw 'hints' of
what might have been new growth - but I did not attempt to ID it
as cattails or something else.

There are some "reference wetlands" that they are using as a
target. Those are close to the Wylie Slough area. They are not
accessible without being in a boat. It is possible to see some
of them from the South End of The Big Ditch Trail - but only
across the waterway - you can't actually walk these areas because
they are either not publicly accessible or are tidal areas that
would be impossible to traverse without specialized equipment or
from a boat at a high enough tide. But, in my opinion and
experience, you'd still have to figure out how to get from your
boat to any walkable area - which would mean crossing as much
as 10 or more feet of mud/marsh. To the best of my knowledge
there are very few areas of the Skagit delta that are easily
walkable - you will encounter deep mud and sink in 'just about
everywhere' ... unless it has been built up into a trail/dike
using rock (such as the walking trails at Wylie). Perhaps
with some hunting waders and a small inflatable?

So ... for now ... all we can do is wait and hope.

OPINION - I, for one, think it will be several years before we
will have a similar environment to what Wylie was like in the
Winter of 2020/2021 (last year). We should expect that Wylie
will be similar to what Leque is like now - which will mean some
ducks and shorebirds - and very little else. I don't have
much hope for the swallows, robins, Redwings, Marsh Wrens,
etc., etc., etc.
- Jim in Burlington

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