A sign of the time

By Paige DeChambeau | Jun 19, 2013

You may have already seen it, or read about it in Janet Hammerman’s Guest View [“A sign we must act now to save Japanese Gulch,” The Beacon, May 29], but a “for sale” sign has been posted by the entrance to the Mukilteo Community Garden advertising that there are about 98 acres of the gulch available for commercial development.

With the recent appearance of that sign, it looks like the trust that owns the land is getting serious about selling it – and as soon as possible.

Though the Japanese Gulch Group does not know why the sign was put up, we do know that the Metropolitan Creditors Trust is getting anxious about getting this land off of its books.

This means that it is the perfect time for the city of Mukilteo to step up and to finish negotiations to purchase the land.

With funds for land acquisition coming from Snohomish County and maybe more coming in the from the state – adding up to about half the estimated $6.3 million price tag – what needs to happen now is for Mukilteo to help out by contributing to this once-in-a-lifetime purchase.

For the last two weeks, the Japanese Gulch Group has had a booth at the Mukilteo Farmers Market, where we have been meeting many of you and telling you about the wonderful trails and views of the Japanese Gulch.

If you haven’t been through the gulch yet, you should check it out. The weather is beautiful and, without clear-cut support from the city, there is a chance that the forest might be gone in the next few years.

Trailheads to the two city-owned portions of the gulch (often referred to as upper and lower gulch) can be found on 5th Street.

Want to hike, run or bike a 3-mile loop? Look for the Tails and Trails Mukilteo Dog Park at 1130 5th St. – the trails to the upper gulch are also accessed there.

You can park at the dog park and explore the gulch with your furry friend, your bike or just on your own two feet.

Or, if you’d rather go on a shorter walk, there is also a 3/4-mile trail in the lower gulch, which can be accessed off of the north side of 5th Street or again at 1201 Mukilteo Lane.

The lower gulch is where you can see the Japanese Gulch Creek and the fish ladder, which was installed by the city to help salmon return to the waters.

The city already owns about 50 acres of Japanese Gulch – just imagine how wonderful it will be when Mukilteo owns all 140 acres to be explored without the worry of trespassing.

Want to get involved? Visit our website at www.japanesegulch.org and see how!

If you love the trails and want to make sure that they stay in great condition, come out and help the Trails Committee work on them!

The committee usually meets the first Sunday of every month, but since the next work party falls on the Forth of July weekend, volunteers will instead be meeting June 30 at 1 p.m. at the dog park.

The Japanese Gulch will again be at the Farmers Market from 3-7 p.m. on Wednesday, June 19, held at Lighthouse Park, to answer any questions that you might have and to get you signed up for our newsletter.

Or you can also just email me to get on the list at director@japanesegulch.org, but we’d still love it if you stopped by to say Hi and meet some of our awesome board members!

Also, the Save the Gulch Political Action Committee is up and running and will be looking to endorse candidates in the upcoming election. If you would like to join the PAC, or if you are a candidate looking for an endorsement, or just want more information on the PAC, visit www.savethegulch.com.

It cannot be stressed enough how rare an opportunity it is to be able to conserve and protect almost 100 acres in an urban community like Mukilteo. Saving the gulch will protect habitat for wildlife, such as the pileated woodpecker, which, by the way, just had babies! See pictures on our website.

We’d love to see your pictures of the gulch and the wildlife that you find as you explore the trails.

Let’s not be the generation of Mukilteans that could have purchased this property, and instead let it slip through our fingers.

Just think: In 100 years, Japanese Gulch could be the Central Park of the West Coast, a grand 140-acre park that people come from all around the world to enjoy, for its hiking trails, tall trees, native plants and wildlife, benches, picnic areas and viewpoints of the Puget Sound.

Can’t you see it? Won’t you get on board today and help us save it?

Paige DeChambeau is the director of the Japanese Gulch Group, whose mission is to purchase the Japanese Gulch property and save it from development so that it can be turned into a park. For more information, go to www.japanesegulch.org.

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