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Huge part of Struve Slough dries up

Posted: Monday, Oct 28th, 2013

John Moreno, trail restoration specialist for Watsonville Wetlands Watch, collects native plant seeds Monday at Struve Slough, which is drying up. (Photos by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)

WATSONVILLE — The lack of any serious rain over the summer and into fall has largely left Struve Slough a dried-out slab of cracked dirt. But environmental officials say it’s nothing to worry about, but rather, part of the natural cycle.

“Basically, since we are going on two years of really low rainfall, things will dry out,” said Michelle Templeton, environmental project manager for the city of Watsonville. “Some people might be alarmed, because it does look extreme. This is the driest I’ve seen it in the last seven years. But once we do get that first big rain the sloughs fill up really fast.”

Struve Slough is hemmed in between Ohlone Parkway, Clifford Avenue, South Green Valley Road and Highway 1.

Since Watsonville sloughs sit on top of a layer of peat and clay, Templeton said, collecting rainwater gathers quickly and then gradually flows to the sea.

“The sloughs never flood, because they are always moving out to sea; it’s a natural thing,” Templeton said.

As far as bird life goes Templeton said that migratory birds commonly stay in the area a while and that there are many alternative water bodies in the area.

“The migrating birds stop here and there,” Templeton said. “They go the route and they know the options in our area.”

Templeton said environmental officials have been cautious not to try to manage the flow of waters in the sloughs.

“We don’t want to try to manage the natural cycle of our sloughs,” she said. “We are simply observing a natural cycle. These sloughs will ebb and flow.”

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service sees no sign of rain on the horizon through Monday.

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