The Olympia port’s plan to develop parcels two and three on State Avenue is a mistake. This is the historic estuary of Moxlie Creek, the largest stream in Olympia.
Estuaries are the critical nexus between land and sea where phytoplankton, salt marsh and sea grasses prevail ... or not.
Phytoplankton account for half of all photosynthetic activity on Earth. Their cumulative fixation of carbon through primary production is the basis of oceanic food webs. Phytoplankton are the oldest and one of the biggest carbon sinks. They’re a major source of atmospheric oxygen.
There is virtually no primary production in East Bay because Moxlie Creek runs through a half-mile long pipe and empties into a dredged hole.
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Sea grass and salt marsh hold 15 times the carbon per acre as Amazon rain forest. When coastal habitats are lost not only do they no longer capture carbon, carbon captured in the past is released. They turn from carbon sink to carbon emitter.
We lost over 160 acres of tide flats, sea grass and salt marsh to fill in the Moxlie estuary. This is an opportunity to get four of them back. These two parcels represent the only opportunity to restore intertidal structure in the Moxlie estuary.
Ninety percent of the world’s cities are coastal, most located in estuaries. Olympia could show the way to improving urban estuaries. Instead, we’re throwing ecology and oceanography to the wind.