[Tweeters] Snohomish Habitat Alert

jeff gibson gibsondesign at msn.com
Sat Dec 6 11:47:57 PST 2008

Hello Tweeters.

Big habitat improvements could be happening in the Snohomish River Delta in the near future that would greatly benefit birdwatchers and most everyone else. I'm writing because I've seen very little coverage of this in local conservation newsletters/websites.

The area I'm talking about is mostly in the Everett city limits - the area known as the "Marshlands". It's on the Snohomish River floodplain just south of Rotary Park on the river (Everett city park ) and between the Lowell-Larimer Rd and the Lowell River Rd. The study area is about 1000 acres. Most of it is currently farmland, in various forms of agricultural use - or unuse.

Originally the city of Everett bought this land for a million bucks or so, about ten years ago with the plan to develop it with ballfields, a climbing rock and I don't know what other 'park' ideas. Local activist's ( Everett Shorelines Coalition ,the Washington Environmental Council and others) challenged the city on an appeal of the city's Shorelines Master Program. So a big thanks to them.

Because of the lawsuit a Draft Environmental Impact Statement was created. A 'Stakeholders' group of various affected entities ( city, state, tribe, environmental groups, landowners, ect was formed to review conservation possiblities, in particular salmon restoration efforts.

To find out all the details go to the city of Everett website (ci.everett.wa.us) where you can go to the Planning Dept. The Planning Dept page has a 'Marshland Study' link. On that page you can go to the ' related links' and check out 'revised scope of the EIS' which lays out the whole deal and includes maps of all the conservation options considered.

In all of three proposed options there is considerable habitat restoration proposed, including breaching of existing dikes to (re)create tidal marsh, and creating more walkable dikes for recreation use. In the ' Stakeholder Preferred' and 'Maximum Conservation' options, the proposed habitat improvement and all would be similar to creating another 'Spencer Island'. The whole of Spencer (both WDFW and Snohomish Co areas) is about 440 acres - the good bird and wildlife habitat created here could potentially be as much or more.

This is a good bird spot already and Snohomish Co. has done a lot of conservation planting along the River Road. The 'River Road Ponds' as I call them, and the nearby Fields Riffle snohomish co. park, are both good adjoining bird and critter habitat.

I attended a public hearing concerning this on Dec. 2. There was surprisingly little public input. However you can put your voice in by written commentary to the planning commission - the deadline is Dec 17. This is for the DEIS. There will be opportunities to give input on the Final EIS later, before this goes to Everett City Council. Habitat conservation needs all the support it can get - this is a great opportunity.

The price tag for all of this is of course huge as was pointed out in the slanted Everett Herald article recently printed concerning this subject. Maybe we as a society will figure out that it's a lot less expensive to prevent damage to the environment than it is to ' mitigate'. Maybe tweeterites could write in support of conservation efforts in Everett's Marshlands. I think the city is on the right track - public support needed. This is not just an Everett issue, it's a Puget Sound citizens issue.

Jeff Gibson, Everett Wa
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