New director to lead gulch campaign
The Japanese Gulch Group has welcomed a new director to help save the gulch as parks and open space.
Paige DeChambeau, of Seattle, was hired Dec. 12 as the group’s new executive director. She replaces Sabrina Bolieu who recently resigned but will continue to work toward the group’s mission in another role.
“Environmental issues have been near and dear to my heart,” DeChambeau said. “It’s something I’ve always cared about. I think it’s going to be an amazing project when it gets finished, to show that Mukilteo and Everett care about preserving the environment.”
As director, DeChambeau will take up where Bolieu left off: Writing grants and garnering support of the city’s project to purchase and preserve all 140 acres of undeveloped land in Japanese Gulch. Mukilteo owns all but the last 97 acres.
“The plan is for me to work on getting grants, and work on [getting] funding through the state, and work with the city to create Save the Gulch 2.0, which is what I’ve decided to call it, to try to get something passed again,” she said.
DeChambeau was manager of the Save the Gulch campaign that supported passage of Mukilteo Proposition 1, on the ballot Nov. 6, asking voters to fund a levy for land acquisition of the gulch. It was 158 votes shy of passing.
The city is now looking into putting a second measure on the ballot or asking residents to allow a levy “lid lift” to raise tax rates – it’s either come up with the $6 million to buy the property or let a developer get it.
Bolieu said DeChambeau has what it takes to rally enough voters to pass a levy.
“I think that she has a great level of enthusiasm and professionalism that our group needs,” Bolieu said. “She has a lot of campaign experience, which is perfect for the direction our group needs to go.”
She recently served as legislative assistant to state Rep. Marko Liias, D-Mukilteo. She has worked with the Japanese Gulch Group in matters before the state Legislature for the last four years.
DeChambeau remembers going on a tour of the gulch back in 2008, when she started working for Liias.
“I’ve been watching their progress, and they’ve been doing a really good job, but I think that at this point they need to take it to the next step and get some solid money,” she said of the Japanese Gulch Group.
“That is something I have more experience with; that is something that I can help them do.”
She said that all three 21st District legislators – Liias, Rep. Mary Helen Roberts and Sen. Paull Shin – have had preserving the gulch in the forefronts of their minds for years – and that she’ll be able to keep it there.
She also worked on Brian Sullivan’s first County Council campaign and as an intern for the Legislature during the 2007 session. Even then, saving the gulch was a campaign issue.
“We’ve been working in the auxiliary for a long time,” she said. “Mukilteo has been one of our big focus areas.”
DeChambeau has already met with Rep. Roberts and Sen. Shin’s legislative assistant to tour the gulch. She is also creating a Save the Gulch website to help educate Mukilteo voters.
Bolieu, who served as executive director for a year, was recently hired as the North Sound conservation director for Forterra, formerly Cascade Land Conservancy, an independent land trust that is partnering with Mukilteo in the project. She is now an ex officio member of the Japanese Gulch Group.
Bolieu said her move to Forterra will help the group – because she’ll still be working toward the same goal, just in a different role. She and Dechambeau will be able to “work off of each other,” she said.
“It’s definitely a good team feeling,” DeChambeau said. “We feel like we’re in this together. She’s going to be able to support the gulch in this new position, and having her there is going to be an amazing asset. We’re really lucky.”
The Japanese Gulch Group was founded in 2007 with a mission to preserve the undeveloped gulch for the benefit of wildlife and the community for generations to come.
Join the group in saying goodbye to Bolieu at 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 4, at the Mukilteo Lodge, 7928 Mukilteo Speedway.