Senior Project Advisor

Rybczyk, John M.

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2020


Puget Sound, restoration, estuary, river delta, tidal wetlands, historical extent, current extent


Puget Sound estuaries and their associated tidal wetlands have experienced extensive loss and degradation since land use conversion and the construction of tidal barriers began in the 1850s with the arrival of Euro-American settlers. Efforts to restore tidal wetlands in the Puget Sound require knowledge of the historical and current extent of tidal wetlands, but tidal wetland loss estimates vary from 53% to slightly over 80%. Thus, this study compared estimates of the current and historical extent of tidal wetlands in the 16 major river deltas of the Puget Sound produced by Brophy et al. (2019), Ramirez (2019b), and Simenstad et al. (2011). Brophy et al. (2019) and Ramirez (2019b) used a combination of a calculated landward boundary and a seaward boundary mapped from aerial photographs to create their historical and current extents. Simenstad et al. (2011) created their historical extent using T-sheets and survey maps from the late 1800s, and their current extent was mapped from aerial photographs. Ramirez (2019b) produced the largest historical and current extent estimates, whereas Brophy et al. (2019) and Simenstad et al. (2011) produced the smallest current and historical extent estimates, respectively. Comparison to Crooks et al.’s (2014) current and historical tidal wetland extents in the lower Snohomish estuary showed the Brophy et al.’s (2019), Ramirez’s (2019b), and Simenstad et al.’s (2011) historical and current extents were larger than Crooks et al.’s (2014) extents. Differences among Brophy et al.’s (2019), Ramirez’s (2019b), and Simenstad et al.’s (2011) historical and current extents may have mostly resulted from the greater specificity that comes from directly mapping wetlands versus calculating extent boundaries and, in Ramirez’s (2019b) case, assuming tidal wetlands are present in all areas seaward of tidal barriers.


Environmental Sciences

Subjects - Topical (LCSH)

Estuarine ecology--Washington (State)--Puget Sound; Estuarine restoration--Monitoring--Washington (State)--Puget Sound

Geographic Coverage

Puget Sound (Wash.)


student projects; term papers




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