[Tweeters] Wylie Slough - update ...

jimbetz at jimbetz.com jimbetz at jimbetz.com
Fri Apr 15 12:12:45 PDT 2022

Wayne Webber/all,

Thanks for confirming what I thought was going on. It certainly
seems to me that the people I talked to at WDFW were both not
talking with each other/consulting others -and- pretty much flying
blind ... with respect to the "cattail mitigation at Wylie".
I have had a couple of people from this list contact me directly
off list about this and their experience/knowledge seems to
confirm what you are saying, Wayne.

I will add this to the facts (rumors?). There is a gentleman
named Bill who rides his bicycle on the levies/trails around
Wylie. He lives in one of the houses along Mann road and is
usually seen with his dog, River. He seems to be connected to
the WDFW there and told me that the WDFW is concerned about the pH
of the water in the wetlands (the part where it was sprayed)
and that they needed a different (I think lower) pH in order for
that area to be a better habitat for salmonid. I do not know or
understand whether or not there is a direct relationship between
the cattails and the pH - perhaps it is a "if there were more of
another vegetation (such as sedges) then the pH would be different"?

I did learn something just today. I was researching salmon and
discovered that "salmonid" does not refer to the young salmon but
rather to all of the various species such as trout, cutthroat,
king, silver, sockeye, blackmouth, steelhead, etc. I tried, but
have not yet learned what phase of the life of a salmon would
use/be in the area at Wylie. It is not an area that spawning
would occur since that requires clear fresh water running over
gravel beds and Wylie is -mud- and vegetation and waterways.

- Jim

> 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

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