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Old Baldy, Canada | photo by Cameron Schaus
Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | monterey county
How can Parsons Slough be restored?
June 2009

Elkhorn Slough has lost 60% of its historic salt marsh, and is expected to lose 30% more by 2050. One branch of Elkhorn Slough, called Parsons Slough, is a 450-acre complex of mudflats and other tidal wetlands. This area historically supported 400 acres of tidal marsh, but now only 35 acres remain. In the first half of the twentieth century the area was diked off from the tides and drained for farming. The land surface dropped and is now too wet for salt marsh plants.

In 1982 the dikes around Parsons Slough broke. The tides returned, but the salt marsh did not. Powerful currents swept through the area, and salt marsh loss accelerated throughout Elkhorn Slough.

Reducing tidal exchange at Parsons Slough slightly would slow currents in many parts of Elkhorn Slough, increasing the viability of salt marsh and soft mud habitats throughout the estuary. Salt marsh can also be restored by adding sediment to raise the elevation of the area so it is high enough to support wetland plants.

Elkhorn Slough is currently evaluating how to implement these strategies while protecting the high quality existing habitat in Parsons Slough for sharks, rays, sea otters, seals, and shorebirds.

On Saturday, June 27, from 9:30 a.m. to noon, Elkhorn Slough is sponsoring a presentation and walk about Parson’s Slough. To participate meet at the flagpole at Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve at 9:30 a.m. For more info contact Erin McCarthy, .

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