Gulch project makes it on Senate’s budget

By Paige DeChambeau | Apr 17, 2013

The Japanese Gulch Group has been busy working with the city, the state, the Boeing Co. and others, so this month we decided it would be best to tell you all that we’re up to.

The group has had a close eye on our state capitol this legislative session, and this is what we know: The Senate has come out with their capital budget in which the Japanese Gulch Land Acquisition project is funded at $750,000.

That total is less than the $1 million that we asked for initially, but we’re not worried because we have state Sen. Paull Shin on our side. He is working to get us more money.

The House of Representatives was not as kind to our project as the Senate was – which was shocking, to say the least. But we still have State Reps. Mary Helen Roberts and Marko Liias are still working that angle.

The city of Mukilteo is looking into what it can do – be it bonds, levies or propositions – to raise enough funds to purchase the last 97.7 acres. I’ll have more on this later.

In the meantime, Earth Day is April 22 and, in celebration of our Earth, Boeing has volunteered to improve some of the trails in the gulch. This is the second year in a row Boeing workers have selected Japanese Gulch as their Earth Day project. Thanks, Boeing!

Do you want to help? Every first Sunday of the month the Japanese Gulch Group Trails Committee hosts a Trails Work Party and Nature Walk at 1p.m. Volunteers are welcome to join the committee as they work on the trails so that everyone can enjoy the gulch in a fun and safe way.

The next Trails Work Party and Nature Walk is Sunday, May 5. The committee meets at the Tails and Trails Mukilteo Dog Park, at 1130 5th St. See you there!

For those who don’t know about the Japanese Gulch or Japanese Gulch Group yet, let me bring you up to speed.

The Japanese Gulch is about 140 acres of land in parts of Mukilteo and Everett. It has largely been untouched by development.

The gulch is named after the Japanese immigrants who came to Mukilteo to work for Crown Lumber Co. in the early 1900s. The Japanese workers and their families made their home in the gulch until the 1930s.

After that, the gulch was left alone to grow and prosper into the beautiful, magnificent wood that it is today.

Over the years, folks have made trails through the gulch and bike jumps and have become well acquainted with the lay of the land, using it to do all sorts of recreating: walking, running, biking and more.

In 2007, a developer wanted to buy 97.7 acres of the gulch, cut down the trees and build warehouses.

A small group of citizens with the goal of saving the gulch was formed that year. Originally called Save the Gulch, the Japanese Gulch Group’s goal was then and still is today to help the state and city of Mukilteo acquire the land as parks and open space.

Together, we continue to work to save those acres for you, your children and your children’s children to enjoy as parkland – not to mention all the animals that live in the gulch.

Mukilteo has been working incrementally since then to purchase parcel by parcel from private owners in the Japanese Gulch – and other gulches around the area too! Now Mukilteo has just 97.7 acres left to buy, worth an estimated $6 million.

With all this parkland and open space, Mukilteo is a beautiful place to set down some roots.

Show your support by letting your legislators know you are also in favor of funding the Japanese Gulch project. Contact them at www.leg.wa.gov.

Paige DeChambeau is the director of the Japanese Gulch Group. She is leading the Save the Gulch 2.0 campaign to purchase and preserve nearly 100 acres of undeveloped land in the Japanese Gulch as parks and open space.

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