May 27, 2020
The “Big Gut,” pictured above, is part of the tidal wetlands of Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve, a 485-acre preserve also composed of swamp forest, upland forest and open water. Dyke Marsh is one of the largest, most significant temperate, climax, narrow-leafed cattail marshes in the national park system, a unit of the George Washington Memorial Parkway managed by the National Park Service. In 1940, the wetlands Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve were around 180 acres in size. From 1940 to 1972, the wetlands were dredged for sand and gravel and almost half of the marsh was hauled away, destabilizing the entire system. Yet, today, Dyke Marsh is one of the largest remaining, freshwater, tidal wetlands in the Washington metropolitan area, despite that the wetlands have diminished to under 50 acres. A multi-phased restoration project was initiated in 2018, and phase 1, a breakwater replacing the natural promontory that was dredged was completed in February 2020. The breakwater is intended to “redirect erosive flows in the marsh, particularly during strong storms and would re-establish hydrologic conditions that would encourage sediment accretion.” (NPS 2014 plan.) As more phases of the restoration continue, the question is, has enough been done in time to save Dyke Marsh. Besides halting the erosion accelerating erosion, how will sea-level change impact the marsh? How will the loss of formerly immense areas of Pumpkin Ash (some seen to the left and right in this image) impact the wetland, and its inhabitants? Please use this photo station to help us document changes in Dyke Marsh. To learn more about Dyke Marsh, and Friends of Dyke Marsh, and how you can get involved go to https://fodm.org/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org and put volunteer in the subject box.