Skip to main content
King County logo
Sphagnum peatland plant community
"In the end, we will conserve only what we love, and we love only what we understand"
- Baba Dioum, Senegal

This document, called for short, "the bog book", is a compilation of information and data about Sphagnum-dominated peatlands from existing local sources, most of which are unpublished. In addition to presenting primary data, the relationship to key literature from other regions and countries is often discussed, so that the reader can relate information about western Washington peatlands to other areas. The document includes an introductory chapter, four topic chapters as well as an extensive appendix.

The beautiful image of a bog cranberry, Vaccinium oxycoccus (right), is also available for download at high resolution. The image, taken by Louise Kulzer, may be used freely if photo credit is given.

This document is provided in Adobe Acrobat format (version 4.x). For help accessing Acrobat documents, please visit our Acrobat Help page.

Chapter 1, Introduction (328 kb)
Summarizes the unique characteristics of peatlands, classification, terminology and how peatlands in the report were identified. In chapter 1 you will find out how bogs and fens differ, and appreciate the fact that there is no one correct answer to the question "is it a bog or a fen?" You will know that the answer depends upon the classification system used, and that the distinction between bog and fen may not be able to be made without using sophisticated sampling techniques.

Chapter 2 (585 kb)
Presents the physical properties of peatlands in general, but particularly emphasizes the characteristics of western Washington peatlands and their watersheds.

Chapter 3 (1,578 kb)
Presents the chemical properties of peatlands. Data from four local peatlands in King County are given. In addition, data characterizing the chemistry of other environmental waters, such as precipitation, groundwater and other wetland types, is given for contrast. If you read Chapter 3, you should find out that the water of bogs is unlike the water of other wetlands, and fairly closely resembles rainwater.

Chapter 4 (639 kb)
Explores the nature of Sphagnum moss itself, presenting general information as well as specific information about western Washington species.

Chapter 5 (1,163 kb)
Features information about peatland vegetation communities of two bioregions in western Washington: the Olympic Peninsula and the Puget Trough. The work of Linda Kunze, done in 1994 for the Washington Natural Heritage Program, is summarized in addition to other observations.

Glossary (114 kb)


The Appendix contains a wealth of background information, as well as the draft of two important chapters to be pursued in Phase 2: draft management guidelines and draft research needs. These two draft chapters are in Appendix A:

Appendix A, Preliminary Management Guidelines for Sphagnum-dominated Peatlands (98 kb)

Appendix A, Draft Research Needs (62 kb)

Appendix B (44 kb)
Itemizes all the Sphagnum-dominated peatlands in western Washington by county, with general township and range information.

Appendix C (695 kb)
Contains background data for Chapters 2, 3, 4 and 5.

Appendix D (174 kb)
Presents a bibliography.

Appendix E (83 kb)
Presents a draft key to the Sphagnum species of Western Washington.

The authors, including Louise Kulzer, Scott Luchessa, Sarah Cooke, Ruth Errington and Fred Weinmann, are grateful to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 10, for providing seed money for the project. We are also indebted to Dr. Dale Vitt, now with the University of Southern Illinois at Carbondale, who acted as technical advisor to the project and helped immeasurably to guide us to the most relevant peatland literature for comparison and context.

The authors hope that by making this information more widely available, wetland scientists and other interested people will gain a better understanding, appreciation and respect for the truly unique peatland resources Washingtonians have here, near the southern edge of their continental distribution.

For questions about the stormwater website, please contact Blair Scott, Water Quality Planner, King County Stormwater Services Section.