Wetlands and Their Role in the Ecosystem

[ MUSIC ] >> HELLO AND WELCOME TO TALKING POINTS I’M DAVE KELLY, DIRECTOR OF ADVANCED MEDIA PRODUCTION AT CAL STATE, LONG BEACH TODAY, WE’RE GOING TO TALK ABOUT WETLANDS AND HOW THEY FUNCTION WITHIN OUR EVOLVING ECOSYSTEM MY GUEST TODAY AND DR CHRISTINE WHITCRAFT DR. WHITCRAFT IS AN ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES AND SHE IS ALSO THE DIRECTOR OF ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE AND POLICY WELCOME, CHRISTINE, AND THANK YOU FOR JOINING US ON TALKING POINTS >> THANK YOU FOR THE INVITATION >> ALL RIGHT WELL, WHEN WE TALK ABOUT THE TERM, “WETLANDS,” THAT’S A VERY SIMPLE TERM, BUT IT ACTUALLY ENCOMPASSES A LARGE VARIETY AND A GREAT DIVERSITY OF DIFFERENT KINDS OF WETLAND SO, LET’S TALK ABOUT THAT FOR A MOMENT GIVE US A SENSE OF THE SCOPE AND SCALE OF WHAT WETLANDS ACTUALLY ARE >> SURE. WELL, THE SIMPLEST DEFINITION I LIKE TO GIVE FOR WETLANDS IS LAND THAT’S WET BECAUSE BEING WET GIVES IT DIFFERENT PROPERTIES THAN THE UPLAND, WHICH IS WHERE WE ARE NOW IN TERMS OF WATER IS AT OR ON THE SURFACE FOR MOST OF THE YEAR OR PART OF THE YEAR AND THAT WATER LEADS TO THE SOIL BEING DIFFERENT, THE PLANTS AND THE ANIMALS THAT LIVE THERE BEING DIFFERENT BECAUSE THEY’RE DEALING WITH THE STRESSORS THAT COME WITH HAVING WATER AROUND THEM OR UNDER THEM FOR MOST OF THE YEAR >> WELL, THEY TALK ABOUT — THERE’S A TERM I NOTICED THAT — WHICH IS THE, “HYDROLOGY” OF THE SOIL IS THAT WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT HERE? >> YEAH. SO THE HYDROLOGY REFERS TO HOW WATER MOVES IN AND OUT OF THE ECOSYSTEM AND THEN THE HYDROLOGY OF SOIL IS THAT THE SOILS HAVE MORE CLAY CONTENT, THEY HAVE MORE ORGANIC MATTER, AND THAT’S A RESULT OF THE WATER THAT’S OVER TOP OF THEM THEY ALSO TEND TO HAVE LESS OXYGEN BECAUSE THEY’RE NOT IN CONTACT WITH THE ATMOSPHERE OR THE AIR AS MUCH AS SOIL THAT’S NOT WET >> WHEN WE TALK ABOUT WETLANDS, AND YOU MENTION, OF COURSE, THAT MEANS WET LAND, BUT DOES THE LAND HAVE TO BE WET ALL YEAR ROUND OR COULD IT BE WET AND MARSHY AND A LITTLE BIT SWAMPY, IF YOU WANT TO CALL IT THAT, DURING THE RAINY SEASON, AND MAYBE DRIER AT OTHER TIMES OF THE YEAR? >> EXACTLY THE DEFINITION INCLUDES THAT IT HAS INDICATIONS THAT WATER HAS BEEN THERE FOR ENOUGH TIME FOR HYDRIC OR WETLAND SOILS TO DEVELOP AND THAT THE PLANTS AND ANIMALS THAT LIVE THERE HAVE TO BE ADAPTED TO WATER AT LEAST PART OF THE YEAR SO IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE PRESENT FOR EVERY SEASON AND EVER MOMENT YOU HAVE SEASONAL WETLANDS AND TIDAL WETLANDS THAT BOTH OF WATER COMING AND GOING >> MM-HMM SO THERE WOULDN’T NECESSARILY BE STANDING WATER THERE YEAR-ROUND? >> THERE DOES NOT HAVE TO BE, YEAH >> OK. ALL RIGHT WELL, LET’S TALK ABOUT WETLANDS AND WHAT PART THEY PLAY IN THE ECOLOGY OF A GIVEN AREA SO WE’RE TALKING ABOUT THE NATURAL ECOLOGY, WHICH INVOLVES THE WILDLIFE, THE PLANTS, THE ANIMALS, AND SO ON HOW DO THE WETLANDS FUNCTION WITHIN THAT KIND OF ENVIRONMENT? >> SO WETLANDS HAVE A SUITE OF VERY IMPORTANT, WHAT I CALL, FUNCTIONS AND SERVICES THE FUNCTIONS ARE THOSE NATURAL PROCESSES GOING ON IN AN ECOSYSTEM ALL THE TIME AND THE SERVICES TEND TO BE THE ONES THAT WE AS HUMANS CARE ABOUT AND SO WETLANDS ARE SOME OF THE MOST PRODUCTIVE ECOSYSTEMS IN THE WORLD, MEANING THAT THEY HAVE A LOT OF ALGAE, A LOT OF PRIMARY PRODUCERS, PLANTS, MICROBIAL COMMUNITIES, AND THAT SUPPORTS A VERY VIBRANT AND DIVERSE FOOD WEB SO A LOT OF THE ANIMALS THAT ARE CHARISMATIC AND ASSOCIATED WITH WETLANDS ARE THERE BECAUSE OF THOSE PRIMARY PRODUCERS THEY SUPPORT A DIVERSITY OF WILDLIFE THAT WE TEND TO REALLY ALSO CARE ABOUT AS HUMANS, SO BIRDS, AND SOME AMPHIBIANS, AND REPTILES IN FRESH WATER SYSTEMS, FISH AND SOME OF THOSE ARE COMMERCIALLY VALUABLE BOTH FOR RECREATION AND COMMERCIAL FISHERIES IN ADDITION, THEY TEND TO PROVIDE A SUITE OF FUNCTIONS THAT ARE RELATED TO HOW WATER MOVES SO THEY CAN FILTER POLLUTANTS OR NUTRIENTS OUT OF WATER THEY CAN BUFFER THE LAND FROM STORMS IF THEY’RE ON THE COAST AND THEY GENERALLY HELP SORT OF MOVE, YOU KNOW, WATER AND PARTICLES THROUGH TO THE COAST IN A CLEANER WAY >> SO THEY PERFORM A VERY VITAL FUNCTION IN TERMS OF SORT OF KEEPING THE ENVIRONMENT IN A KIND OF STABLE SYSTEM, IF YOU WANT TO CALL IT THAT, AND, IN ADDITION TO THAT, AS YOU SAID, THERE ARE SOME BENEFITS FOR HUMANS TOO EVEN IN OUR MODERN CIRCUMSTANCES AND WHAT ARE SOME OF THOSE ADDITIONAL BENEFITS? >> IN ADDITION TO SUPPORTING, YOU KNOW, ORGANISMS THAT WE TEND TO HARVEST LIKE COMMERCIAL FISH, FOR EXAMPLE, IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, A LOT OF OUR FISH TACOS ARE MADE FROM CALIFORNIA HALIBUT IT IS A NURSERY USER OF WETLANDS SO THE SMALL FISH ARE COMING INTO THE WETLANDS UNTIL THEY GROW LARGE ENOUGH TO BE ON THE COAST, WHICH IS WHEN WE HARVEST THEM THERE’S ALSO RECREATIONAL BENEFITS THEY’RE BEAUTIFUL PLACES TO BE SO PEOPLE APPRECIATE THEM JUST FOR THE AESTHETICS OF HAVING A WETLAND, BUT IT ALSO CAN RAISE THE SURROUNDING HOME PRICES IT CAN PROVIDE OPPORTUNITIES FOR BIRD WATCHING, KAYAKING,

SOME OF THE RECREATIONAL FISHING THAT GOES ON THAT WATER FILTRATION FUNCTION WE TALKED ABOUT IS VERY IMPORTANT FOR MAKING SURE THAT WATER REACHES OUR COASTS CLEAN SO THAT WE DON’T NECESSARILY HAVE AS MUCH POLLUTANTS GETTING ON THE BEACHES WHERE PEOPLE RECREATE AND THAT WE ASSOCIATE SOMEWHAT WITH SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA SO THERE’S LOTS OF THOSE BENEFITS THAT HUMANS GET FROM LIVING NEAR THEM AS WELL AS FROM JUST APPRECIATING SOME OF THE ANIMALS THAT USE THEM >> ALL RIGHT WELL, LET’S TALK ABOUT WETLANDS IN TERMS OF THE DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE COUNTRY NOW, BECAUSE WE’RE ON THE CALIFORNIA COAST, WE’RE GOING TO SPEND MOST OF THE TIME TALKING ABOUT COASTAL WETLANDS, BUT THERE ARE ALSO INTERIOR WETLANDS AND, IF WE’RE TALKING ABOUT THE MIDWEST, WE’RE TALKING ABOUT PLACES LIKE MINNESOTA AND IT’S — OF COURSE, MINNESOTA IS KNOWN AS THE LAND OF A THOUSAND LAKES THERE’S ALSO THE OGALLALA AQUIFER IN NEBRASKA AND THE SOUTH PLATTE, OR PLATTE RIVER BASIN IN NEBRASKA, WHICH THE XL PIPELINE APPARENTLY GOES RIGHT THROUGH THE MIDDLE OF THAT SO, IF WE’RE TALKING ABOUT THE INTERIOR WETLANDS OR THE INLAND WETLANDS LIKE THAT IN THE MIDWEST, HOW WOULD THEY FUNCTION MAYBE A LITTLE BIT DIFFERENTLY FROM WHAT THEY — WHAT THE WETLANDS DO HERE ON THE COAST? >> SO ALL THOSE WETLANDS STILL HAVE THE THREE MAIN PROPERTIES THAT WE TALKED ABOUT IN THE BEGINNING THAT THE PRESENCE OF WATER IS THERE LONG ENOUGH THAT THEY HAVE UNIQUE SOILS AND UNIQUE PLANTS, BUT MOST OF THOSE WETLANDS ARE NOT TIDAL AND THEY’RE FRESH WATER SO THE EXAMPLE OF MINNESOTA, I MEAN, I THINK THEY HAVE ALMOST 11,000,000 ACRES OF WETLANDS, WHICH IS ALMOST 20% OF THEIR STATE SO, FOR THEM, IT’S AN ICONIC FEATURE OF MINNESOTA, AS YOU MENTIONED THE LAND OF THE LAKES AND THEY’RE USED FOR ALL SORTS OF MIGRATING SPECIES, ALL SORTS OF FRESH WATERS SPECIES, PLANTS AND ANIMALS, AND THEY’RE VERY RECREATIONALLY POPULAR A LOT OF THE ONES THAT YOU MENTION THAT ARE IN SOME OF THE PLAIN STATES ARE RIVERINE WETLAND SYSTEMS, SO THEY VERY RARELY EXPERIENCE ANY SALINITY AND, IF THEY DO, IT’S VERY LOW AND THEY HAVE PLANTS THAT WE THINK OF AS WETLAND PLANTS RIGHT OFF THE TOP OF THE BAT, CATTAILS OR REEDS SPRING TO MIND AND THOSE TEND TO BE SOME OF THE DOMINANT PLANTS IN SOME OF THEIR WETLANDS THEY ALSO HAVE SOME THAT HAVE LARGER, YOU KNOW, SHRUBS OR TREES IN THEM >> MM-HMM >> BUT THEY PERFORM A LOT OF THE SIMILAR FUNCTIONS AS WHAT WE DESCRIBED FOR THE GENERIC WETLAND, OR THE COASTAL WETLAND THEY STILL FILTER WATER THEY CAN SLOW DOWN WATER FLOW AND PREVENT FLOODING THEY CAN BUFFER SURROUNDING COMMUNITIES FROM THOSE FLOODS AND THEY CAN BE VERY PRODUCTIVE LANDS THE SOIL HAS A LOT OF ORGANIC MATTER, WHICH CAN BE GOOD FOR PLANTS SO THEY’RE STILL THAT SORT OF, YOU KNOW, IMPORTANT ECOSYSTEM IN THE MATRIX OF ECOSYSTEMS THERE >> AND I KNOW THAT WITH THE PLATTE RIVER BASIN IN NEBRASKA, FOR EXAMPLE, A LOT OF MIGRATORY BIRDS GO THROUGH THAT AREA EVERY YEAR AND SO THAT’S AN IMPORTANT PART OF THE ECOLOGY? >> YEAH. THERE’S MANY ICONIC SPECIES THAT I LOOK AT THROUGH THERE, FOR EXAMPLE, THE WHOOPING CRANE MIGRATES THROUGH A LOT OF THOSE WETLANDS USING THE HABITAT AND ALSO, YOU KNOW, BEING A FOCAL SPECIES FOR PEOPLE’S IDENTIFICATION WITH WETLANDS >> WELL, LET’S TALK ABOUT THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE EAST COAST AND THE WEST COAST IN TERMS OF WETLANDS ALONG THE COAST ARE COASTAL WETLANDS SIMILAR EVERYWHERE YOU GO ACROSS THE COUNTRY, OR ARE THERE ANY MAJOR DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE EAST AND THE WEST, FOR EXAMPLE? >> THERE ARE SOME IMPORTANT DIFFERENCES I’M FROM MARYLAND ORIGINALLY AND THE CHESAPEAKE BAY WAS AN ICONIC WETLAND IN MY GROWING UP AND THERE IS A DIFFERENCE IN THE SCALE BETWEEN THE EAST COAST AND WEST COAST IN TERMS OF TIDAL WETLANDS A LOT OF THE REALLY LARGE ESTUARIES THAT WE SEE WITH EXPENSIVE PLAINS FULL OF PLANTS FROM THE EAST COAST ARE MUCH SMALLER SCALE THAN THE WEST COAST, PARTICULARLY IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA WE HAVE A SERIES OF SMALL COASTAL LAGOONS THAT GO FROM POINT CONCEPTION SOUTH TO THE BORDER AND THEY’VE ALWAYS BEEN SMALLER, NOT JUST BECAUSE WE’VE DEVELOPED AROUND THEM, BUT BECAUSE OF THEIR GEOLOGY AND THE COASTAL LAYOUT WE ALSO HAVE SOME DIFFERENT PLANT SPECIES AND DIFFERENT WEATHER PATTERNS SO WE HAVE A LOT, YOU KNOW, MILDER WINTERS, A MEDITERRANEAN CLIMATE, PARTICULARLY IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, AND SO OUR WETLANDS HAVE DIFFERENT WAYS OF MOVING WATER WE HAVE A LOT DRIER SUMMERS AND WE’RE SUPPOSED TO HAVE RAIN IN THE WINTERS AND SO WE GET PULSES OF WATER THAT HELP MAINTAIN OUR ESTUARIES, WHEREAS THEY EXPERIENCE A LOT MORE CONSISTENT PRECIPITATION IN THE EAST COAST WETLANDS AND SO THAT LEADS TO DIFFERENCES IN SALINITY AND DIFFERENCES IN WATER MOVEMENT AS WELL >> ALL RIGHT WELL, LET’S TALK ABOUT THE GULF OF MEXICO BECAUSE WE KNOW WE HAVE THE EVERGLADES IN FLORIDA AND WE ALSO HAVE THE BAYOU SWAMPS OF LOUISIANA HOW WOULD THOSE DIFFER FROM WHAT WE SEE HERE? WE KNOW THAT THEY HAVE ALLIGATORS IN THOSE AREAS AND THEY ALSO HAVE SOME SNAKES THAT WE MIGHT WANT TO AVOID SO THOSE WOULD BE PROBABLY A LITTLE MORE — YOU’D NEED TO BE MORE KNOWLEDGEABLE WHEN YOU GO INTO THOSE AREAS IN TERMS OF KNOWING WHAT’S GOING TO BE THERE >> I THINK THAT’S A GOOD CAVEAT OF USING THOSE WETLANDS PEOPLE HAVE USED THOSE WETLANDS AS VERY PRODUCTIVE ECOSYSTEMS

FOR A LONG TIME SO KNOWLEDGEABLE WATERMEN IN THE BAYOU ARE SOME OF THE BEST RESOURCES EVEN FOR SCIENTISTS TO GO AND TALK TO THEM ABOUT WHAT ORGANISMS LIVE THERE AND THEY COME THERE BECAUSE IT’S A GREAT SOURCE OF FOOD FOR HUMANS AS WELL BUT THEY HAVE VERY LARGE WETLANDS IN LOOK AT, VERY LARGE WETLAND IN THE EVERGLADES, AND THOSE PROVIDE, AGAIN, SORT OF THE LARGER SCALE CONTRAST TO OUR SMALLER SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA WETLANDS, BUT MANY OF THE SAME FUNCTIONS >> MM-HMM WELL, LET’S BRING IT BACK TO CALIFORNIA THEN SO WE’RE TALKING ABOUT THE COASTAL WETLANDS HERE ONE OF OUR PROBLEMS IN CALIFORNIA, WE’VE HAD A NUMBER OF PROBLEMS IN TERMS OF HOW WE’VE DEALT WITH THE WETLANDS OVER THE YEARS ONE OF THE PROBLEMS, OF COURSE, IS OUR EXPANDING POPULATION AND THE NEED TO ALWAYS BUILD NEW HOUSES AND NEW STRUCTURES AND SO FORTH SO THERE’S — IN THE PAST, THERE WAS A LOT OF ENCROACHMENT ON THE WETLANDS TO BUILD PROPERTY, PRIMARILY REAL ESTATE BUT — SO, HAVE WE REACHED A POINT NOW WHERE WE HAVE A CONSENSUS ABOUT PROTECTION OF WETLANDS? DO THE STATE LAWS SUPPORT THAT? DO THE REGULATIONS SUPPORT THAT? AND WHAT ABOUT THE BUILDERS AND DEVELOPERS? HAVE THEY REACHED A CONSENSUS ON THAT? >> WELL, I THINK, TO USE A SLIGHTLY PUN — BUT THE TIDE HAS TURNED IN RECOGNIZING THE IMPORTANCE OF WETLANDS SO SOME OF THE CRITTERS THAT YOU MENTIONED AS BEING SCARY, THE ALLIGATORS AND SNAKES, HAVE GIVEN, YOU KNOW, WETLANDS A POOR REPUTATION THEY WERE KNOWN AS, YOU KNOW, INSECT RIDDEN, DANGEROUS SWAMPS, AND OFTEN ORIGINATED SORT OF THE MYTHS OF LIKE THE SWAMP THING MOVIES AND SO WE DIDN’T REALLY RECOGNIZE ALL THOSE FUNCTIONS THAT I TALKED ABOUT IN THE VERY BEGINNING NOW THAT IT REALLY HAS SWUNG AROUND SO THAT PEOPLE RECOGNIZE THAT THE FUNCTIONS AND SERVICES PROVIDED BY WETLANDS ARE INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT, BOTH FOR HOW OUR ECOSYSTEMS WORK, BUT ALSO FOR OUR HUMAN EXISTENCE AROUND THEM AND SO WE HAVE A VERY DIFFERENT ATTITUDE TOWARDS PROTECTING THEM FROM DEVELOPMENT NOW THEY ARE PROTECTED AS A WATERS OF THE US UNDER THE CLEAN WATER ACT, WHICH MEANS, IF IT’S DEFINED AS A WETLAND, YOU CAN NO LONGER FILL IT OR DEVELOP ON IT OR IMPACT IT IN A WAY THAT DEGRADES IT BEYOND A CERTAIN POINT SO THERE IS FEDERAL PROTECTION THERE ARE STATE PROTECTIONS FOR THE SAME SORT OF DEGRADATION ASPECTS SO WE CAN’T JUST DEVELOP ON WETLANDS AS WE DID IN THE PAST AND PARTIALLY PEOPLE DON’T DO THAT AS MUCH BECAUSE THEY RECOGNIZE THE IMPORTANCE OF WETLANDS THERE IS STILL DEVELOPMENT PRESSURE WITHIN WATERSHEDS AND THE ASSOCIATED POLLUTION AND OTHER ASPECTS THAT COME WITH IT, BUT THE DIRECT DEVELOPMENT ON WETLANDS ISN’T AS PERVASIVE AS IT ONCE WAS NOW, THAT DEPENDS A LITTLE BIT ON HOW WETLANDS ARE PROTECTED UNDER THE WATERS OF THE US RULE THAT WETLAND DEFINITION HAS SWUNG AROUND UNDER DIFFERENT SUPREME COURT RULINGS, UNDER DIFFERENT POLICIES, DIFFERENT EPA GUIDELINES, AND SO SOME WETLANDS CAN BE A WETLAND UNDER SOME RULINGS AND NOT UNDER OTHERS FOR THE MOST PART, OUR LARGER COASTAL WETLANDS ON BIG NAVIGABLE WATERWAYS ARE STILL PROTECTED IN THE SAME WAY >> OK. AND, ON THAT NOTE, WE NEED TO GO TO THE BREAK AND WHEN WE COME BACK FROM THE BREAK, WE’LL TALK ABOUT THE HISTORY OF OIL DEVELOPMENT AND HOW THAT HAS AFFECTED THE COASTAL WETLANDS STAY TUNED [ MUSIC ] >> EVER THOUGHT ABOUT STUDYING THE PSYCHOLOGICAL ECOLOGY OF SHARKS USING ROBOTS? OR MAYBE SPENDING THE DAY NOT IN A CLASSROOM, BUT ABOARD A LARGE VESSEL STUDYING MARINE LIFE IN THE OCEAN FIRST HAND? THE OPPORTUNITIES ARE ENDLESS WITH A DEGREE FROM CAL STATE, LONG BEACH [ MUSIC ] >> WELCOME BACK TO TALKING POINTS I’M DAVE KELLY MY GUEST TODAY IS DR. CHRISTINE WHITCRAFT AND WE’RE TALKING ABOUT THE WETLANDS AND RIGHT NOW WE’RE GOING TO TALK ABOUT RESTORATION OF WETLANDS BECAUSE WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO RESTORE WETLANDS I MEAN, THERE IS SOME DEBATE OVER HOW EFFECTIVE IT IS BECAUSE IT TAKES SOME TIME, BUT WE HAVE RECOGNIZED THAT WETLANDS ARE A VALUABLE RESOURCE, AS WE’VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT IN THE FIRST PART OF THE PROGRAM BUT NOW THERE IS GREATER EMPHASIS ON RESTORING WHAT WE ONCE HAD LET’S TALK ABOUT THAT FOR A MOMENT WHEN WE RESTORE THE WETLANDS, AND I KNOW YOU’VE BEEN VERY INVOLVED IN THIS PROCESS, ARE WE ABLE TO BRING THEM BACK TO, IF NOT 100%, 90-95% OF WHERE THEY WERE BEFORE, OR IS THERE ALWAYS GOING TO BE SOME CHANGE TO THAT ENVIRONMENT BECAUSE OF THE DAMAGE THAT WAS DONE AND WE CAN’T FULLY MITIGATE THAT? >> I LOOK AT RESTORATION AS THE GREAT TEST OF HOW WELL WE UNDERSTAND WETLANDS IF WE’RE ABLE TO RESTORE WETLANDS BACK TO SOME SORT OF FUNCTIONAL OR EVEN STRUCTURAL SIMILARITY TO WHAT THEY ONCE WERE, THEN WE’VE SORT OF PAST THE TEST WE’VE BEEN ABLE TO UNDERSTAND HOW WETLANDS WORK AND THE PROCESS OF, YOU KNOW,

RESTORING HAS GOTTEN WAY BETTER OVER THE YEARS PEOPLE HAVE LEARNED A LOT ABOUT HOW TO DO WETLAND RESTORATION AND SO, WHILE WE MAY NOT BE ABLE TO GET TO 100% SIMILARITY TO WHAT A WETLAND ONCE WAS IF LEFT UNDISTURBED, WE CERTAINLY HAVE GOTTEN TO THE POINT WHERE WE HAVE VERY FUNCTIONAL, RESTORED WETLANDS AND YOU CAN SEE THEM UP AND DOWN THE COAST THEY OFTEN TAKE, AS YOU MENTIONED, A LONG TIMEFRAME TO GET THERE IT’S NOT NECESSARILY A FIVE-YEAR PROCESS WE SEE THAT FUNCTIONAL RESTORATION OR CLOSE TO IT AT MORE LIKE A 10 OR 20 YEAR TIME SCALE DEPENDING ON WHERE YOU’RE WORKING, BUT I THINK IT IS AN OPTIMISTIC STORY THAT WE ARE LEARNING BETTER HOW TO RESTORE DEGRADED ECOSYSTEMS AND IT BECOMES A POWERFUL TOOL >> SO MAYBE 100% OR 90% ISN’T THE REALISTIC GOAL TO LOOK AT IT’S MORE, “CAN WE GET THE FUNCTIONING SYSTEM UP AND RUNNING IN A WAY THAT’S ACCEPTABLE FOR WHAT A WETLAND SHOULD BE?” >> I THINK THAT’S A REALISTIC GOAL I MEAN, PEOPLE OFTEN ASK ABOUT RESTORATION AS A WORD ARE WE TRYING TO RESTORE BACK BEFORE HUMANS WERE HERE? AND THAT’S NOT USUALLY THE RESTORATION GOAL IT’S, AS YOU MENTIONED, TO BRING BACK A SYSTEM TO CERTAIN FUNCTIONAL LEVELS THAT WE THINK ARE GOOD FOR THE REGION >> AND I KNOW THAT ALSO THERE ARE SOME EFFORTS TO CREATE WETLANDS WHERE THE ORIGINAL LAND IS ALREADY SPOKEN FOR AND THERE’S NO GOING BACK, BUT MAYBE WE CAN CREATE SOME WETLANDS IN A NEARBY AREA HAS THAT BEEN SUCCESSFUL AND IS — YOU KNOW, THAT’S ASSUMING THAT YOU DON’T HAVE THE AVAILABLE LAND WHERE THE WETLANDS WERE, OF COURSE, ORIGINALLY, BUT DOES THAT WORK? AND IS IT ALWAYS BETTER TO RESTORE THAN TO CREATE IF YOU HAVE THE OPTION? >> AND I THINK CREATION IS A POWERFUL TOOL IN THE TOOLBOX OF RESTORATION ECOLOGISTS, BUT, LIKE YOU INDICATED IN YOUR LAST COMMENT, IT’S NOT AS SIMPLE AS RESTORING TO SOMETHING BECAUSE YOU’RE REALLY WORKING WITH COMPLICATED HYDROLOGY AND PLANT AND SPECIES DISTRIBUTIONS AND SO TO BRING THAT ALL IN ANEW IS WAY MORE CHALLENGING TO RESTORE A HABITAT BUT, IN A LOT OF SITUATIONS, MAYBE WE DON’T HAVE THAT LAND LEFT OR WE’RE LOOKING AT FUTURE SCENARIOS AND CREATION IS ONE OF THE TOOLS THAT WE CAN CERTAINLY USE TO INCREASE WETLAND AREA AGAIN >> SO, TO CREATE IS BETTER THAN NOT TO HAVE AT ALL? >> EXACTLY >> OK [LAUGHING] WELL, LET’S TALK ABOUT THE OIL DEVELOPMENT AND THE HISTORY OF OIL DEVELOPMENT HERE IN CALIFORNIA, AND PARTICULARLY HERE IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA ALONG THE COAST I KNOW THAT WE’VE BEEN PUMPING OIL OUT OF THIS AREA FOR MORE THAN 100 YEARS AND, PARTICULARLY HERE IN LONG BEACH, THERE’S BEEN A LOT OF OIL EXTRACTION AS WELL AS IN HUNTINGTON BEACH CLEARLY, THAT HAS AFFECTED THE WETLANDS AND THE COASTAL WETLANDS HERE, BUT THERE SEEMS TO BE SOME EFFORTS TO ACTUALLY GO BACK TO SOME OF THOSE LANDS AND TRY TO RESTORE THEM HOW IS THAT PROCESS GOING AND DO YOU THINK IT’S GOING TO BE SUCCESSFUL? >> WELL, I’M SORT OF A PRAGMATIC CONSERVATIONIST, I SAY, SO I RECOGNIZE THAT WE’RE NOT GOING TO REMOVE ALL HUMAN USES FROM THE LAND AND SO I TEND TO ADVOCATE FOR BEING ABLE TO TAKE PROPERTIES THAT WERE DEGRADED FROM OIL OPERATIONS OR THAT ARE NEIGHBORING OIL OPERATIONS, AND STILL WORK ON RESTORING THEM TO FUNCTIONAL LEVELS SO THERE’S BEEN A LOT OF EXAMPLES OF WHERE WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO TAKE OIL PROPERTY, REMOVE THE INFRASTRUCTURE, SPEND A LOT OF TIME FOCUSING ON THE HYDROLOGY OR THE CONTAMINANT REMOVAL, AND BRING BACK A WETLAND THAT IS, YOU KNOW, A FUNCTIONING WETLAND >> RIGHT. AND WE HAVE SOME OF THAT LAND NOT VERY FAR FROM WHERE WE’RE RECORDING THIS PROGRAM RIGHT NOW I THINK IT’S LESS THAN TWO MILES AWAY, PROBABLY ONLY ABOUT A MILE AND WE WERE TALKING IN AN EARLIER CONVERSATION ABOUT HOW YOU’VE BEEN ABLE TO HAVE CONVERSATIONS WITH OIL COMPANIES ABOUT THE PROCESS OF MAYBE SWAPPING SOME LANDS OR CHANGING AROUND THE CONFIGURATION OF WHAT LAND IS USED FOR OIL AND WHAT’S USED FOR WETLANDS AND SO ON IS THAT GOING ALONG REASONABLY WELL? >> YEAH. SO IT’S A MAJOR EFFORT AROUND THE LOS CERRITOS WETLANDS AND THERE WOULD BE AN EXCHANGE BETWEEN AN OIL AND GAS COMPANY TO TAKE APPROXIMATELY 150 ACRES OUT OF OIL PRODUCTION IN EXCHANGE FOR ABOUT FIVE ACRES WHERE THEY COULD CONTINUE OIL OPERATIONS AND THAT REPRESENTS A LARGE SHIFT OF LAND THAT WILL BE RESTORED TO WETLANDS AND AN EFFORT ON THE PART OF, YOU KNOW, LOCAL AGENCIES, CONSERVATION GROUPS, ADVOCACY GROUPS, AND OIL COMPANIES TO WORK TOGETHER TO MAKE SURE THAT THAT LAND GETS RESTORED TO A FUNCTIONAL WETLAND >> AND SO IS IT POSSIBLE FOR OIL DEVELOPMENT AND CONSERVATION OF WETLANDS TO OCCUR ON ADJACENT LANDS AND CAN WE WORK WITH BOTH SYSTEMS IN HARMONY? >> AS I MENTIONED, I’M A PRAGMATIST AND SO — AND AN OPTIMIST — I SAY, “YES.” I MEAN, THERE’S OBVIOUSLY VERY IMPORTANT MITIGATION MEASURES THAT NEED TO BE PUT IN PLACE TO MAKE SURE THAT SPILLS, INFRASTRUCTURE, DAMAGE THAT MIGHT RELEASE OIL, DRILLING, MATERIALS OR FLUIDS ARE CONTAINED WITHIN THE SITE AND THAT THEY’RE NOT ABLE TO GET OUT IN THE CASE OF AN ACCIDENT AND INFLUENCE THE HABITAT YOU JUST SPENT MONEY AND TIME AND EFFORT RESTORING OR HABITATS THAT HAVEN’T YET BEEN RESTORED

SO I THINK WE HAVE TO THINK VERY CAREFULLY ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF HAVING THEM SIDE-BY-SIDE, BUT IT’S — CERTAINLY IT CAN MOVE FORWARD WITH THOSE AS NEIGHBORS >> MM-HMM AND SO WHEN WE TALK ABOUT LAND THAT’S AN INDUSTRIAL WASTELAND, IN SOME CASES, WITH CHEMICALS AND THE LIKE, THAT DOESN’T MEAN FOREVER? I MEAN, THAT CAN BE REVERSED? >> IT CAN I MEAN, WE SEE PROGRAMS THROUGH THE EPA LIKE THE SUPERFUND SITES AND THERE’S, YOU KNOW, SEVERAL THAT ARE ON THE COAST THAT I KNOW ABOUT WHERE THEY MAKE A GREAT EFFORT TO MITIGATE THE POLLUTION YOU KNOW, MAYBE IT’S LEAD REMOVAL OR OTHER CONTAMINANTS CAN BE REMOVED FROM THE SITE, TREATED, RESTORED TO TIDAL ELEVATIONS IT IS MORE CHALLENGING ESPECIALLY WHEN WE TALK ABOUT, YOU KNOW, FINDING WHERE THOSE LEGACY CONTAMINANTS HAVE ENDED UP, BUT IT IS POSSIBLE WE HAVE TECHNOLOGY TO DO IT AND, WITH PROPER MONITORING AND MITIGATION, YOU CAN MAKE SURE THAT THOSE EFFORTS, YOU KNOW, REALLY DO REMOVE THE CONTAMINANTS FROM THE SYSTEM >> WHEN WE TALK ABOUT OIL DEVELOPMENT AND USE OF OIL, WE’RE TALKING ABOUT FOSSIL FUELS, OF COURSE THAT’S THE NAME WE’VE GIVEN THE USE OF OIL SO THERE’S ANOTHER CONCERN WITH FOSSIL FUELS AND THAT IS RISING SEA LEVELS HOW DO THOSE CONNECT? >> WELL, THE CO2 IN THE ATMOSPHERE IS CAUSING WARMING TEMPERATURES AND LOTS OF OTHER IMPACTS, BUT IT DOES LEAD TO CHANGES IN THE AMOUNT OF ICE WE HAVE SCORED IN GLACIERS AS THOSE MELT, WE SEE SLOW RISING INCREASE IN SEA LEVEL AND, OBVIOUSLY, WETLANDS, PARTICULARLY COASTAL WETLANDS, ARE WHAT I CALL SORT OF THE CANARY IN THE COAL MINE THEY’RE GOING TO BE THE SENTINEL ECOSYSTEMS THAT ARE SEEING THE IMPACTS OF THAT SEA LEVEL RISE UNALTERED WETLANDS HAVE THE ABILITY TO KEEP PACE WITH SEA LEVEL RISE SO EITHER STREAMS COMING IN FROM INLAND AND DEPOSITING SEDIMENT, OR TIDES BRINGING IT IN FROM THE COAST, THEY CAN ACTUALLY ACCRETE, OR GET HIGHER IN ELEVATION TO KEEP PACE WITH SEA LEVEL RISE IN A LOT OF VERY ALTERED WETLANDS, WE EITHER DON’T HAVE STREAMS COMING IN FROM THE INLAND OR WE DON’T HAVE ANY WAY FOR THAT WETLAND TO MOVE INLAND WITH THE SEAS SO WE ARE PREDICTING THAT A LOT OF MARSHES WILL POTENTIALLY EXPERIENCE MARSH DROWNING, WHICH IS BASICALLY BEING CONVERTED FROM A HABITAT THAT CONTAINS MUDFLATS, PLANTS, UPLAND PLANTS TO SUBTIDAL HABITAT AND ACTUALLY A RECENT REPORT THAT JUST CAME OUT IN THE PAST COUPLE WEEKS HAS SOME DIRE PREDICTIONS FROM SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA IN TERMS OF HOW THAT MIGHT OCCUR >> JUST IS OUR VIEWERS HAVE A SENSE OF THE URGENCY OF THIS, HOW URGENT IS IT AND WHAT KIND OF DAMAGE ARE WE REALLY TALKING ABOUT HERE? >> WELL, THE LOSS OF AN ENTIRE HABITAT THROUGH MARSH DROWNING WOULD MEAN A LOSS OF ALL THOSE ASSOCIATED FUNCTIONS THAT WE THOUGHT WERE IMPORTANT ENOUGH TO SAVE WETLANDS SO THAT MEANS, IF WE’RE LOSING SOME OF THAT VEGETATED HABITAT AND MAKING IT ALL SUBTIDAL, WE’RE POTENTIALLY LOSING SOME OF THE ABILITIES OF WETLANDS TO FILTER WATER, TO PROTECT FROM STORMS AND SEA LEVEL RISE ISN’T NECESSARILY SOMETHING THAT WE’RE JUST WAITING FOR WE’RE ALREADY SEEING, YOU KNOW, EXAMPLES WHERE THE COMBINATION OF SUBSIDING LAND AND SLIGHTLY RAISING SEA LEVELS IS RESULTING IN LOSS OF HABITAT FOR EXAMPLE, THE SEAL BEACH NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE HAS BEEN WRITTEN UP IN MANY REPORTS AS BEING A PLACE WHERE WE HAVE VIBRANT ENDANGERED SPECIES POPULATIONS, THE RIDGEWAY’S RAIL, BUT WE ALSO HAVE PROBABLY ONE OF THE GREATEST LOCAL RATES OF SEA LEVEL RISE SO ALREADY THEY’RE LOSING HABITAT WITHIN THAT SPACE AND THAT’S NOW THAT’S NOT WAITING FOR SEA LEVEL RISE IN 50 YEARS THAT’S SEA LEVEL RISE WE’RE EXPERIENCING NOW >> THERE ARE EFFORTS NOW TO TRY TO MITIGATE THIS BY POTENTIALLY MOVING THE WETLANDS FURTHER UPLAND AS THE COAST RECEDES, WE MOVE THE WETLANDS FURTHER INLAND IS THAT A POSSIBILITY? IS THAT GOING TO WORK AT LEAST IN THEORY IF WE DO THAT? >> I THINK IT’S ONE OF OUR GOOD OPTIONS IT’S NOT TALKING ABOUT MOVING PEOPLE OR THEIR HOMES, BUT IT’S TALKING ABOUT, YOU KNOW, USING SMART REGIONAL PLANNING TO IDENTIFY AREAS THAT MAYBE ARE PUBLIC LAND OR ARE NOT DEVELOPED THAT WE COULD SAVE FOR FUTURE, WHAT WE CALL, TRANSGRESSION, OR MOVING INLAND OF WETLANDS AND THERE ARE AREAS LIKE THAT DESPITE OUR REALLY POPULATED SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA REGION THERE ARE AREAS THAT ARE AVAILABLE FOR THAT AND SO SOME OF IT’S SMART REGIONAL PLANNING AND IDENTIFYING PRIORITIES AND SOME OF IT IS ALSO JUST BETTER UNDERSTANDING HOW WE THINK THE WETLANDS MIGHT MOVE ARE THEY GOING TO DO THAT ON THEIR OWN? DO WE NEED TO ASSIST THEM? ONE OF THE EXAMPLES AT SEAL BEACH THAT I REFERRED TO AS EXPERIENCING SEA LEVEL RISE IS WE’RE TRYING OUT A STRATEGY CALLED SEDIMENT AUGMENTATION, WHICH IS BASICALLY ARTIFICIALLY RAISING THE MARSH PLAIN WE’VE PUT 10 INCHES OF MUD ON TOP OF A MARSH SECTION AND WE’RE WATCHING HOW IT RECOVERS AND SO THERE ARE SOME MORE DRASTIC OPTIONS YOU CAN USE IN ADDITION TO SAVING SPACE >> OK. AND AS FAR AS THE RECEDING COASTLINE AND SO ON, WE’RE TALKING ABOUT MOVING THINGS FURTHER UPLAND,

BUT WE ALSO KNOW THAT THE BEST WAY TO HANDLE A WETLANDS AREA IS TO LEAVE A PERIMETER BARRIER AROUND IT AS WELL BECAUSE WE’VE TALKED ABOUT THE WETLANDS BEING A BARRIER BETWEEN THE COAST IN DEVELOPMENT, BUT YOU ACTUALLY NEED A PERIMETER BARRIER AROUND THE WETLANDS TOO WHY DO YOU NEED A BARRIER AROUND THE WETLANDS AND WHAT FUNCTION DOES THAT SERVE? >> I TEND TO CALL IT AN UPLAND TRANSITION ZONE OR A BUFFER ZONE AND I THINK IT SERVICE A COUPLE VERY IMPORTANT FUNCTIONS ONE IS IT JUST KIND OF KEEPS HUMANS A LITTLE FURTHER AWAY THAT MEANS MAYBE BLOWING TRASH OR NON-NATIVE SPECIES, ESCAPED ORNAMENTAL PLANTS IT GIVES A LITTLE MORE ROOM FOR THE WETLAND TO BE PROTECTED IN ADDITION IT CAN SERVE AS REALLY IMPORTANT HABITAT FOR ANIMALS THAT USE THE WETLANDS, BUT AREN’T NECESSARILY GOING TO USE THEM ALL THE TIME SO IN TIDAL WETLANDS, WE HAVE SMALL MICE, MORE TERRESTRIAL VERTEBRATES THAT COME DOWN, FEED IN THE WETLAND, AND GO BACK UP AND THEY NEED THAT BUFFER ZONE AS A REFUGE SO IT HAS PURPOSES BOTH FROM THE LAND SIDE, THE HUMAN DEVELOPMENT ASPECT, AND THEN THE WETLAND SIDE AS WELL >> AND SO IF WE DO PUT A PERIMETER AROUND IT, DOES THAT HELP KEEP SOME OF THOSE CONTAMINANTS THAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT THAT ARE CREATED BY HUMAN DEVELOPMENT AND SO ON — IS THAT A GOOD WAY TO KEEP THAT CONTAMINANT MATERIAL OUT OF THERE? >> IT CERTAINLY CAN AND PEOPLE HAVE DESIGNED BUFFER ZONES WITH EXACTLY THAT IN MIND DEPENDING ON THE CONTAMINANT YOU KNOW, IN SOME CASES IT’S JUST PLANTS TO STOP WINDBLOWN TRASH IN OTHER CASES IT’S PARTICULAR PLANTS THAT MIGHT BE ABLE TO TAKE UP A HEAVY METAL OR AN ADDITIONAL CONTAMINANT REALLY JUST PROVIDING THAT EXTRA ZONE THAT WE HAVE BEFORE YOU REACH THE MORE SENSITIVE HABITAT TO WETLANDS >> WELL, UNFORTUNATELY, WE’VE RUN OUT OF TIME BUT I WANT TO THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE TODAY AND GIVING US THIS VERY INFORMATIVE INFORMATION ABOUT THE WETLANDS >> THANK YOU FOR THE OPPORTUNITY >> AND THANK YOU FOR JOINING US ON THIS EDITION OF TALKING POINTS BE SURE TO JOIN US AGAIN SOON FOR THE NEXT EPISODE UNTIL THEN, I’M DAVE KELLY HAVE A NICE DAY [ MUSIC ]