Boardwalk is an asset

Published 5:15 pm Thursday, March 20, 2014

Washington’s boardwalk, which runs from the N.C. Estuarium eastward to the eastern side of Moss Landing, is more than just a venue for people to walk or jog. At this time of the year, the boardwalk’s adjacent manmade wetlands and the neighboring Pamlico River provide plenty of evidence that it’s spring. The boardwalk, in a way, serves as an outdoor environmental classroom.

From the reptiles — mostly turtles and snakes — in the water to herons wading along the shoreline in search of a fish, those who walk the boardwalk are provided opportunities to get close looks at that wildlife. In the spring, flotillas of female ducks and their ducklings navigate the wetland’s waters. The turtles and snakes sun themselves on logs or large rock. Seagulls share space on the boardwalk’s railings with songbirds.

The wetlands do more than just provide habitat for wildlife and aquatic life. They are used as a natural filter to help clean stormwater runoff from downtown Washington. Several pools, through which the stormwater passes through before entering the Pamlico River, are part of the wetlands.

Before man built the wetlands, that stormwater was discharged directly into the river, negatively affecting the river’s water quality.

So, the wetlands have a job — improving the river’s water quality.

As for the wildlife, it’s probably best to look but not bother.

The turtles, ducks and geese have enough trouble dealing with other predatory wildlife without adding human predators into the mix. As we’ve suggested in the past, perhaps adopting an informal “no-touch” policy for the wildlife around the boardwalk would be something for city officials to consider.