In September we completed the construction phase of a wetland restoration project on Cultus Bay Rd, at the headwaters of Glendale Creek. Over the next few months we will hold work parties to help us plant native trees and shrubs to complete the restoration. We hope you will join us! Here is the story of the project:
Around the turn of the last century, a wagon road lead to a brushy wetland at the head of the Glendale Watershed. Real estate advertising at the time highlighted how productive this area could be for farm and orchard production, with rich black soils, plentiful water, and the added benefit that the wetland didn’t have the large stumps that were so difficult to remove. Roads were improved, ditches dug and parcels divided, and by early in the century the Jackson family had built a small house. Consuela Jackson is fondly remembered for selling milk and eggs from her homestead into the 90’s. With the clearing and installation of drainage tile, underground pipes to isolate ground water, early farms had quickly became productive, but over the years, these farm soils subsided and drainage became difficult to maintain, making it too wet for farming.
When Suzannah Dalzell purchased the land, it was with an eye toward re-creating the productive wildlands that once were found at the head of the watershed. The wetland soils on the property help keep stream flows constant by acting as a sponge and slowly releasing water during dry times. Along with water and cover, wetlands provide critical habitat for much of our island wildlife.
To begin to restore this property, and the ecological functions that it had provided, the wetland hydrology had to be re-established. By filling ditches, and removing underground drain tiles, the water now moves through the site much as it originally did.
The addition of this wood will serve the functions of fallen logs until the site begins to produce its own structure as trees grow.
We also installed perch poles to attract raptors and recreate standing structure on the property that would mimic dead snags that would have been present. Aday after the perch poles were installed, raptors began hunting and resting on the poles!
The project is on a conservation easement held by the Whidbey Camano Land Trust, and is supported by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, part of the US Department of Agriculture. Partnerships with landowners, schools and agencies are important elements of bringing communities together to invest in the future health of our island. You can support these efforts by volunteering, supporting local funding sources such as the Conservation Futures Fund, and other policies that support habitat protection and restoration.