[Tweeters] A Crime of Cartography

Hal Michael ucd880 at comcast.net
Mon Nov 28 07:42:09 PST 2016

I used to work in Fraser salmon management and it is a magnificent system. While Wayne notes that the Skagit and Columbia have their roots in BC it should also be noted that there are tributaries to the Fraser, including one of the sockeye lakes, with their roots in Washington.

Hal Michael
Science Outreach Director, Sustainable Fisheries Foundation
Olympia WA
360-791-7702 (C)
ucd880 at comcast.net

----- Original Message -----

Jeff (and Tweeters),

Thanks for your comments about the Fraser River and about its huge contribution of water and sediment to the Salish Sea. I’m glad to see that you understand its importance, and were miffed at the cavalier treatment of its watershed on the map at the Marine Science Center. As a lifelong British Columbian who lives less than 10 miles from the Fraser, I am reminded every day of the importance of this great river in terms of providing fresh water to the sea, a transportation corridor to people, and a home for salmon and for wildlife.

However, you may have underestimated the size of the Fraser’s watershed. If you use the figures provided by Wikipedia, the Fraser watershed covers 84,942 square miles, versus 71,362 for the state of Washington— a difference of 13, 580 square miles. However, the area of Washington was quoted for many years as 68, 192 square miles. I don’t know how it suddenly grew to 71,362; perhaps someone decided to include the marine waters of Puget Sound, Hood Canal, and Juan de Fuca Strait, which doesn’t seem quite cricket. In addition, I have seen figures elsewhere for the Fraser watershed’s area as 90,000 to 91,000 square miles. I don’t think the Wikipedia figure is accurate. If the upper figure of 91,000 is correct, and the land (plus freshwater) area of Washington is really 68,192, then the difference is actually 22,808 square miles.

I am surprised to find such discrepancies in area measurements. Surely the truth should be easy to determine with modern equipment. Perhaps someone who is a geography expert can set us straight on where these measurements came from.

It’s also worth noting that British Columbia includes a large chunk of the Columbia watershed (about 13%-- 33,710 square miles out of the total watershed area of 258,000), and provides a much greater percentage than 13% of the water. A sizable piece of the upper Skagit watershed is also in BC. In fact, a good percentage of the water used for irrigation, drinking and power generation in Washington and Oregon actually originates in B.C.

Just trying to give some credit here where credit is due!

Good luck and good birding,

Wayne C. Weber

Delta, BC

contopus at telus.net

From: tweeters-bounces at mailman1.u.washington.edu [ mailto:tweeters-bounces at mailman1.u.washington.edu ] On Behalf Of Jeff Gibson
Sent: November-27-16 6:13 PM
To: tweeters
Subject: [Tweeters] A Crime of Cartography

It was a classic example of November weather yesterday here in Port Townsend - cold drenching rain, and dark grey skies. Good weather to go to an aquarium, so I bopped down to the Marine Science Center here to check out the tanks. That way I could remain warm and dry while watching marine life.

In one corner of the place hangs a map of the Salish Sea, and surrounding watershed - including all the rivers running into the Sea. Like most popular maps of the Sea, it commits what I consider a crime of cartography.

Imagine that you have a wealthy and generous Great Aunt - a big ol' earth mother type. She regularly brings you Salmon, and Sturgeon, and all sort of other goodies, but you don't let her into your house - just her head after she passes you her gifts through the doggie door. That's not nice. That's not right.

Yes, folks, that's what the cartographers have done to the big ol' Fraser River on most of their watershed maps - they've cut her off at the neck, leaving her body sprawling alone across much of British Columbia. I guess I can understand some reasons why they'd do that.

To save ink would be one reason, and to make a neater map package might be another, because the Fraser is a huge chunk of sprawling watershed. The Fraser watershed is actually 13,000 square miles larger than the entire state of Washington. If you look at a watershed map of the great river, it actually dwarfs the Salish Sea itself.

Another gift from the Fraser is lots of sediment - the river has formed the largest alluvial delta on the West coast, providing all sort of mudflats for our migratory shorebird friends. The Fraser also dumps 44% of the freshwater flowing into the Sea, which I would imagine to be important to the general ecological health of the place, somehow.

While salmon runs on the Fraser have declined, it still produces. While water generally runs downhill on this planet (off the watershed) the Sea swims uphill in the form of fish - all the energy from spawning salmon provides nutrients all up the watershed. The bear poops his fish dinner under a berry bush along a stream, encouraging more berries, thrushes, etc. It's a pretty big picture.

Maybe someday a cartographer with some class will add the body of Fraser to a Salish Sea watershed map. Just sayin'.

Jeff Gibson

along the Salish Sea

Port Townsend Wa.

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