Have you ever had to pick up trash that people carelessly left on the street, in your yard, or on the sidewalk? How would you feel if someone walked into your yard and dumped some waste oil on your rose bushes or washed their car on the street in front of your house and chucked their bucket of greasy soap in your driveway or on your lawn. This is exactly what we do to our furry and feathered friends when we are careless with our environment. In actuality – we are also doing this to ourselves since these pollutants likely make their way into our watershed. (Pardon the lecture but hey… we humans need it!)
When my coworkers heard that I was taking a wetlands class – they excitedly told me there was beaver activity just down the road from our office. I brought my tennis shoes and a raincoat the next day – eager to explore the nearby wetland. I was saddened by what I saw. The pictures above show what has happened to this wetland over time. Whether this little creek was created due to water diversion through the construction of SR 520 and I-405 or whether the roads were built around it – I am not sure. But I do know that if I were the ducks pictured above… I would not want this in my backyard. (Hey ducks – there have to be nicer places for you to hang out!) Note the small dam built by the beaver in the last photo that has a used drink container that has become part of the structure. I did not get to see the beaver at work – maybe he did seek a new home.
The signage and fencing suggest that authorities are trying to protect what is left of the creek and its inhabitants – but unfortunately – this is not enough. The highways nearby will produce waste that collects on their surface and will produce polluted storm-water runoff that will find its way into the creek. The color of the soil on the banks of this creek already indicate some pollution.
The fact is – human animals are tough on their environment. We build roads, railways, dams, buildings, and sewers. We produce waste that will eventually find its way into our streams and watersheds – like Puget Sound and Lake Washington. Just like every vote counts, every action counts. So often when we think of watershed pollution – we think of big companies dumping toxic waste into oceans, rivers, and lakes. But individuals are also part of the problem. The most important thing this course has done for me is to open my eyes to the actions that can cause damage to our wetlands and watersheds and some simple things I can do to help protect them.
I encourage people to pick just one or two items that can protect our water and – make it a habit… then add a couple more. Small actions by lots of people are just as important as monumental actions by a few. Below is a photo taken at a ferry terminal that lists some simple ways we citizens can help:
I hope this project has provided a few pointers in helping to protect our wetlands. For more information about ways to protect Puget Sound and other watersheds… please visit the sites below:
King County Stormwater Services
Department of Ecology, State of Washington