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Letter: What Sets Dyke Marsh Apart

— To the Editor:

This letter is an effort to clarify a few points about Dyke Marsh.

  • The following was written in 2008 by L.K. Thomas, Ph. D., research ecologist emeritus and ecological and resource management consultant to the National Capital Region, U.S. National Park Service. Dr. Thomas worked for the National Park Service until his retirement.

“I have been involved with Dyke Marsh from the time in NPS got it in 1959 until now. Dyke Marsh is a rare one-of-kind situation. It is the only Pleistocene freshwater tidal climax narrow-leaved cattail (Typha augustifolia) marsh in the National Park System and probably in the world. ... Freshwater tidal marshes are rare. Most tidal marshes are salt marshes. Most cattail marshes are successional (temporary).”

  • The following is from the U.S. Geological Survey study, Analysis of the Deconstruction of Dyke Marsh, George Washington Memorial Parkway, Virginia: Progression, Geologic and Manmade Causes and Effective Restoration Scenarios, Open-File Report 2010-1269:

“Dyke Marsh is the eroding remnant of a formerly extensive freshwater tidal marsh, adjacent to George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate, and situated approximately 7 miles south of Washington, D. C., along the Potomac River’s western shore.” (page 2)

“Initial results indicate that the marsh started forming about 530 years ago (prior to Columbus’ arrival).” (page iii)

  • The following is from the U.S. National Park Service’s website:

“Located along the west bank of the Potomac River, approximately 95 miles from the Chesapeake Bay, Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve consists of approximately 485 acres of tidal marsh, floodplain, and swamp forest. Dyke Marsh, which is believed to have formed 500 years ago, is one of the largest remaining freshwater tidal wetlands in the Washington Metropolitan area.”

  • The following is from Public Law 86-41, June 11, 1959, the law that added the Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve to the U.S. national parks system:

“The Secretary shall administer all of the lands described in this bill. . . so that fish and wildlife development and their preservation as wetland wildlife habitat shall be paramount….”

Glenda Booth, President

Friends of Dyke Marsh