2011 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the 2011 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference  in beautiful Vancouver, BC with four of my fellow Squaxin NR colleagues.

Throughout the three days I sat in on a number of breakout sessions and reviewed scientific posters that ranged in topics covering Estuary Science, Marine Survival of Salmon, Marine Mammals, and Traditional Foods of the Salish Sea to name a few.  The conference was what I would call a “Salish Sea Scientist Convention,”  a group of scientist striving for a common goal….a healthy and plentiful Salish Sea.

As I reflect back on the sessions I attended at the conference,  most were very interesting, but one in particular about Snow Geese and Bullrush was one of my favorites.

The presentation, “Why are estuarine marshes in the Salish Sea disappearing and what must be done to fix the problem?” from Sean Boyd of the Science & Technology Branch, Environment Canada.  Mr. Boyd shared his studies of how Snow Geese have contributed to the disappearing marshes in Canada. Recent years Snow Geese populations in the Fraser Delta have significantly increased do to favorable breeding grounds and the decline of harvest.    The recent increased population of Snow Geese is decreasing Bullrush density .  Snow Geese eat Bullrush rhizomes and apparently consuming them at the same rate as they are being produced.  With the decline in Bullrush, Mr Boyd explained that these areas were reverting to mudflats of which could have serious impacts on food web.

Mr. Boyd’s recommendations to resolve the decline of Bullrush and increased populations of Snow geese are two fold:  Reduce the  Snow Geese to a manageable population through harvest and apply nitrogen  fertilizer to Bullrush marshes to increase rhizome density.

The 2011 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference was very informative and I am thankful to attend.