Fight to preserve gulch is not over | Guest View

By Jon Boyce | Apr 30, 2014

Japanese Gulch was marketed to Mukilteo as a repository of pristine Northwest flora and fauna worth preserving.

Clearly, the following quotations from Mukilteo Beacon Op-Eds by Arnie Hammerman and Paige DeChambeau of the Japanese Gulch Group lobbied us for preservation.

“The community is in support of preserving Japanese Gulch,” wrote Deschambeau in a Gulch View on Jan. 16, 2013.

Hammerman noted the goal of, “preserving it as an urban forest,” in a column on Aug. 28, 2013.

On Sept. 25, 2013, DeChambeau characterized Mukilteo as “a community that cares about preserving forest land.”

Their point, made by numerous other Mukilteo citizens and residents, was “preserve it!”

And on Feb. 21, the city of Mukilteo spent upwards of $5 million to accomplish the same. Or so it seemed.

Instead, it’s looking like a textbook example of "bait and switch." So-called stakeholders are acting like settlers at the Oklahoma Land Rush.  Their out-stretched hands are grabbing for $100,000 of your money to subsidize their development plans.

Note: That didn’t read development. Just the plans. Requests for development expenditures are sure to follow.

Meanwhile, the developers of BMX excavations and their Gulch Group supporters await their piece of the Gulch Land Rush. Thankfully, it’ll be a long wait.

Strike One: A new report written by a forensic arborist has cold-conked their claim, "It's always been here." Indeed, the report notes a diverted wetland, along with acres of compromised forest ecology and indigenous habitat.

Strike Two: Last week, a surveyor sent out by the city of Mukilteo tagged the BMX area as wetland and wetland buffer.

Strike Three: A simply random event occurred.

During spring break, a bunch of Olympic View Middle School kids were playing with airsoft guns and building a fort near the new BMX construction in the wetland.

While doing so, they discovered an underground bunker! It had a hinged trap door disguised by branches and dead leaves on top. The kids broke the lock to find what was inside: Yikes! A veritable arms cache of over 20 hand tools!

At last, I came to understand how such monumental excavations were quickly accomplished by handwork. Many hands make light work. And a dozen shovels manned by fit, young men can do a lot of wetland and forest damage in a very short amount of time.

Fortunately, for the flora and fauna of Japanese Gulch, the BMX-developers’ clumsy attempt to grandfather in this ecological mess has struck-out.

But, so far, the ultimate stakeholders, the indigenous flora and fauna of Japanese Gulch are largely without voice. The nesting herons near the beaver pond have no sign asking people to stay away and respect their habitat.

The rare and beautiful trilliums have no sign indicating “Do not pick me for a bouquet.”

And the BMX wetland gash has no volunteers or funding for repair and restoration. For the Japanese Gulch forest teeming with millions of indigenous stakeholders, it's looking grim.

Will short-sighted and careless public development unwittingly collapse the gulch's wildlife habitat and fragile ecosystem?

Will the Mukilteo City Council talk green and sustainable, but act otherwise?

Ask your city councilmembers and the Gulch Group, “Why would you oppose preserving habitat in Japanese Gulch?”

Sometimes it takes a while for the majority opinion of residents and voters to influence the various levels of politics and governance in Mukilteo.

But as Mayor Jennifer Gregerson so well exemplified in her recent steadfast and successful campaign against Joe Marine, diligence and perseverance will win the day!

Ending on this note of optimism, I am convinced a huge majority of Mukilteo voters support green infrastructure, long-term stewardship and, above all, preservation!

Jon Boyce has been a resident of Mukilteo for over 20 years. He led the winning campaign against annexation, and now advocates for the preservation of Japanese Gulch.

Comments (3)
Posted by: Charlie Pancerzewski | May 02, 2014 03:31

Destruction of property is breaking the law. The destruction was apparently done prior to the City closing the acquisition. However, when the City signed the purchase agreement it became a party with legal rights to the property, committed ti paying the agreed value. When the property damage was done, it damaged the City's interest by lowering the value. The City should ask the Everett Police Dept. to investigate, arrest and prosecute those who did the damage. I presume this part of the Gulch is in Everett City limits. Therefore, Everett Police should have jurisdiction. Start with those who wrote letters to the Beacon trying to justify the damage as they seem to know a lot about it. They should be made to fully pay for all restoration as well as replacement of planting trees and any other costs.

I do not understand why our elected officials are not taking immediate steps to locate, sue and prosecute those who did this major property damage. If part of the property was wetlands, state and county laws were also likely broken and the appropriate agencies that enforce environmental laws should be involved.  Why are our elected officials holding back? Why are names of those doing the damage not being found and disclosed. It should not be that difficult. These people should not be covered up and exposed to the community.

Posted by: Charlie Pancerzewski | May 02, 2014 03:35

My last sentence above should have said, the names of these people should not be covered up and they should be exposed to the community.

Posted by: Lynn McKinney | May 04, 2014 09:59

Thank you Jon Boyce.

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