[Tweeters] Wylie Slough - update ...

HAL MICHAEL ucd880 at comcast.net
Fri Apr 15 10:39:18 PDT 2022

Having worked within a F&W agency it was obvious to me that fish biologists knew fish and wildlife biologists knew wildlife but neither knew the other. And, there was very little understanding of ecology and how an ecosystem functions.

The initial diking of estuaries destroyed one type of habitat (intertidal) and replaced it with another (Non-tidal). These changes favored some animals and plants and not others. This is simple ecology.

In an attempt to restore intertidal habitat, which will benefit intertidal species, the non-tidal habitat is destroyed at the loss of animals and plants that are not salt tolerant. So yes, the fish folks pushing for dike removal are valuing the marine resources above the non-marine. In the same way that the original dikers valued non-saline habitats.

To me, a solution would be mitigation for the loss of upland habitat. If your dike removal destroys, say, 100 acres of upland habitat than you must replace the lost uplands with at least 100 contiguous acres of uplands. Otherwise, not requiring mitigation puts us into the position that my resources are more important than yours.

Hal Michael
Board of Directors,Ecologists Without Borders (http://ecowb.org/)
Olympia WA
360-791-7702 (C)
ucd880 at comcast.net

> On 04/14/2022 11:06 PM Wayne Weber <contopus at telus.net> wrote:



> Jim and Tweeters,


> As someone with a strong background in plant ecology (as well as

> ornithology), I can assure readers that any assertion that cattails are not

> native to the Skagit estuary is ridiculous. A comparison with the Fraser

> estuary in BC (a much bigger river, to be sure) would be instructive. The

> Fraser has 3 main mouths-- the North Arm, the main arm, and Canoe Pass

> (which discharges between Westham Island and Brunswick Point). Many hundreds

> of acres in the upper intertidal zone, between the 3 mouths and for a fair

> distance to the north and south, are covered with a dense stand of

> vegetation dominated by cattails, and have been as long as anyone can

> remember.


> Cattails (Typha latifolia) are mainly a freshwater marsh plant, although

> they also grow well in brackish estuaries with large amounts of freshwater

> inflow, such as the Fraser and Skagit estuaries. They cannot survive where

> high salinities prevail all the time, although they can withstand great

> variation in salinity.


> Cattail stands are also highly productive from a biological point of view--

> for birds and other critters. Estuarine cattail stands provide excellent

> habitat for Red-winged Blackbirds, Marsh Wrens, Virginia Rails, American

> Bitterns, Common Yellowthroats, Northern Harriers, and other species.

> Wherever there are openings in the plant cover, they also provide good

> feeding areas for shorebirds and dabbling ducks.


> I am not sure what kind of habitat WDFW would like to create, or what kind

> would be more productive than cattail marsh. It should be noted that the

> Skagit Wildlife Area was created mainly for the protection and production of

> wildlife, not fish. However, the widespread breaching of dikes in western

> Washington and elsewhere, and reflooding with salt or brackish water, was

> forced by fishery interests, with no concern whatsoever for effects on

> wildlife. They thought it would increase the survival of juvenile salmon.

> Perhaps there should have been more consultation between fishery and

> wildlife biologists and plant ecologists beforehand, in order to determine

> what kind of habitat would eventually result from this gigantic experiment.

> It seems to be evolving in directions that many of us did not expect. It

> remains to be seen whether the expansion of intertidal areas will in fact

> result in improved salmonid survival, or whether the whole experiment will

> go down in history as a failure. However, from a wildlife point of view, it

> seems to me there are much worse things than cattail stands that could have

> resulted, and I am wondering what the wildlife managers would like to see

> instead.


> Wayne C. Weber, Ph.D.

> Delta, BC, Canada

> contopus at telus.net




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

> From: Tweeters [mailto:tweeters-bounces at mailman11.u.washington.edu] On

> Behalf Of jimbetz at jimbetz.com

> Sent: Thursday, April 14, 2022 9:06 PM

> To: tweeters at u.washington.edu

> Subject: [Tweeters] Wylie Slough - update ...


> 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

> area.


> (Jim's message truncated for brevity)


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