Dyke Marsh is a 485 acre parcel on the edge of the Potomac River in northern Virginia, just south of Washington, DC. It is a 5,000 to 7,000 year old unique ecosystem, with more than 6,500 species of plants, insects, fish, birds, reptiles and amphibians. In 1959, the area was being dredged for commercial purposes. To protect the system, Congress designated the Dyke Marsh ecosystem for protection “so that fish and wildlife development and their preservation as wetland wildlife habitat shall be paramount''. Among the Members leading that successful effort was Rep. Dingell (D-MI), who was still serving in the House in 2009.
Noting that 2009 was the 50th anniversary of the designation of Dyke Marsh as a protected ecosystem, Rep. Moran (D-VA), in whose district it is located, introduced this resolution. The resolution included language stating that the Congress had “passed legislation that designated . . . Dyke Marsh as a protected ecosystem for the purpose of promoting fish and wildlife development and preserving their natural habitat”. It also included language identifying Dyke Marsh “as a unique and precious ecosystem that serves as an invaluable natural resource both locally and nationally”, and noted that wetlands provide services “such as flood control, attenuation of tidal energy, water quality enhancement, wildlife habitat, nursery and spawning . . . and recreational and aesthetic enjoyment”. In addition the resolution highlighted the efforts of Rep. Dingell and other former Members in protecting the Dyke Marsh ecosystem “from further dredging, filling, and other activities incompatible with a preserve”.
This was a vote on the resolution designed to recognize the Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve “as a unique and precious ecosystem”. Rep. Moran urged his fellow House Members “to join me in recognizing the significance of Dyke Marsh, in reaffirming our commitment generally to protecting our nation's ecosystems, and in honoring . . . John Dingell . . . whose leadership and commitment to environmental stewardship were instrumental in the Dyke Marsh's preservation.”
There were no remarks against the resolution. However, a number of Republican Members acknowledged, off the record, that they voted against it to demonstrate their view that the Democratic majority was choosing not to deal with some other matters that Republicans favored. These Republican Members were taking the position that, if the Democratic majority was prepared to pass this type of resolution recognizing the existence of a sensitive ecosystem, it should also take the time to deal with those other matters.
The resolution passed by a vote of 325-93. Two hundred and forty-six Democrats and seventy-nine Republicans voted “aye”. Ninety Republicans and three Democrat voted “nay”. As a result, the House approved the resolution recognizing the Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve in Virginia as “a unique and precious ecosystem.”