A great blue heron flies over Dyke Marsh in Mount Vernon. Dyke Marsh is a stomping ground for dozens of bird species, but the the marsh has eroded rapidly during the past few years.
A recent report from the U.S. Geological Survey documents a loss of 6 to 8 feet of shoreline each year for the last two decades, a time when 12 percent of the of the marsh eroded. What was measured at 187 acres in 1937 has depleted to 60 acres in 2006.
"One of the most important services a wetland provides is flood control," says Glenda Booth, president of Friends of Dyke Marsh. "It acts like a sponge. So it soaks up flood water that otherwise would end up flooding roads and people's property."
Putting together a plan to restore Dyke Marsh would cost $600,000, and filling the marsh with sediment would cost millions. Congressman Jim Moran says that might not be possible in the current political environment.
"A lot of people feel that this is extraneous, that it's not a high priority to protect the environment," says Moran. "And those folks are currently in the majority in Congress."
Unless action is taken in the next few years, Dyke Marsh could disappear forever.