The Tulalip Tribes Natural Resources Department’s wetland biologists have spent considerable time inventorying, assessing, monitoring, and ultimately restoring or enhancing wetlands on the Tulalip Reservation. Due to their unique properties, wetlands provide essential ecological benefits to both humans and wildlife. They also often have disproportionate cultural value to tribal membership due to plants and other resources that are distinctive to wetland environments. Wetlands enhance human quality of life by controlling flooding, filtering surface water runoff, recharging groundwater supplies, and providing fascinating habitat for education and recreation. Furthermore, in Washington State alone over 85% of all terrestrial vertebrates use wetlands and wetland buffers. For these reasons, in addition to extensive historical degradation and destruction of wetland habitat, wetland protection and recovery is a top priority goal for National, State, and Tribal governments.
Wetlands account for 20% of the Tulalip Reservation. Within the Reservation, 23% of all Tribal Trust land was identified as wetland compared to 13% of all non-tribal land. This abundance makes wetland ecosystems exceptionally important to the hydrologic functions of the Reservation watersheds. In addition, wetlands recharge roughly 8% of all wells on the Reservation. Most of these wetlands are associated with major stream systems such as Tulalip Creek, Battle Creek, and Quil Ceda Creek. All of these creek systems are threatened by encroaching development.
The Tulalip Tribes’ Natural Resource Department will continue to be a leader in regional wetland inventory, protection and enhancement. While wetlands have an exceptional importance to Tribal members, they are also essential for human and environmental integrity. The ultimate goal is to preserve and enhance the Tulalip Tribes’ membership’s treaty protected resources that are integrally tied to wetland function.