Jim, Rob, Dan, Cathy, and David on the camera
Yesterday was a good day for a wet walk in the forest. Well, it was if you are traveling with Rob Sandelin, naturalist for the Environmental Science School (ESS), a program of the Sky Valley Education Center in Monroe. Rob engages 28 middle school and high school students in snag surveys, tree planting, mushroom surveys, transect studies, etc. He looked at our web site and decided he wanted a closer view. ESS is always looking for new ground.
Dan Paquette took us to some of his favorite botanical sites. Along the way Dan pointed out various tree, shrub and moss species. Rob too, was a walking encyclopedia. He pointed to a decaying stump and said when he was in graduate school they took apart a similar stump and found over 300 different species of invertebrates living in it.
...over 300 different species of invertebrates
_Next he picked up a golden maple leaf with green ringed spots on it. He said the spots were caused by a fungus that actually brings cells back to life and starts up their photosynthesis. His students call it a "zombie fungus" and the Latin name got by all but Dan I think. There is so much going on if you have someone show you. Student will discover amazing things here someday.
I asked Rob if he would send us a paragraph reflecting on the afternoon. As soon as he got home he sent us his thoughts....
A rainy day walk in the woods
On a late afternoon in November, in between rain squalls, a small group of us went out for an exploration of the North Creek Forest. As we arrived at the northern access point the large white sign said, 35 acres for sale. Pushing past the freeway noise we entered the forest. The light was subdued filtered gray from the clouds which gave everything a soft touch. The ground was covered with a thick mulch, with bright yellow maple and horse chestnut leaves adding the top layer, the bright yellow like so many pieces of summer sunshine scattered on the ground.
Season for Thanksgiving 2011
_Following deer trails we wandered under the opening deciduous canopy, the maples reaching bare branches in to the sky like mossy skeletons. Stout cedars, a few impressive in girth and a scattering of other conifers anchored the hillside with their wide roots, cascading long green sprays of branches hanging like Christmas swags. In the forest gardens, seeds from bright summer flowers lay slumbering, snug under fallen leaf blankets, awaiting spring. It is easy to see the potential here, a wide diversity of native plants which must host a healthy regiment of birds and other critters. As darkness fell we managed to find our way back and discovered the sign at the entrance hosting a new addition of, "Sale Pending". Indeed, this forest is poised for protection and will make a fine future natural area.
It is all but finished. The northern half of North Creek Forest is on it's way to conservation. Last Tuesday the Bothell City Council again supported us with a unanimous vote. Today the contract has been signed by all parties and by this afternoon it will be in escrow.
It is possible that Bothell could take ownership by as early as December 15th.
Yesterday a news service, Public Eye Northwest, called for an interview. Today that story appears on their Blog, Social Capital Review....
We had our Board retreat yesterday and we are ready for a big expansion of activity in 2012. This is now greater than any of us. It has a life of it's own and, in the next phase we shall feed it!
Friends of North Creek Forest
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Sharp Shinned Hawk photo by Andy Schauer
A Sharp-Shinned Hawk dropped into Andy Schauer's back yard near North Creek Forest. Andy had his camera ready. This Sharp-Shinned Hawk migrates to this area for the winter. It eats other birds and it's presence is an indicator of a large number of birds on the edge of North Creek Forest. This is an uncommon sighting. Thanks Andy!
The Bothell City Council is going to vote on a Purchase and Sales Agreement to buy 35.66 acres of North Creek Forest at 6:00 PM tonight. We expect a unanimous vote as all Council Members have supported this.
The trouble is in the details. As it currently stands there is no provision in the agreement to close the sale before risking a loss of funding. This article is, in part, a public appeal to the Council to counter this risk by assuring the completed purchase happens before the State Legislature cuts funding in December. The clock is running.
The most often raised issue to purchasing this forest is erosion. Several years ago surface runoff cut into the forest hillside resulting in mud entering North Creek. Bothell designed a fix and constructed bypass conduits which will last a long time. Permanent solutions can be implemented as grants are acquired. The city apparently inherited this surface water problem when this part of the forest was annexed.
City staff prepared an agreement requiring a significant erosion study but this study could delay purchase well into the special Legislative session. Since it is already the city's responsibility to deal with this surface water erosion we ask the Council to approve the purchase now and use any study as a foundation for future erosion control designs. That would be valuable, timely and would not cost the city a penny more than a process that delayed the purchase. We have already committed to work with the city on erosion control grants.
The second part of the study, a search for toxic waste, is necessary. Staff mentioned the possibility of one or more buried oil tanks. We ask that it be expedited so any problems can be determined and dealt with in the closing document similar to a work order paid for out of an account set up for that purpose. Without access to details of the P/S Agreement we can't speculate upon the design of such a provision but the creative application of City Council talent can.
It should be noted that there has not been one single voice opposing this purchase. The word about conservation of this forest is all over Bothell and beyond. "Due diligence" is a tool to protect citizen interests. With no opposition to this purchase it would be ironic if the full exercise of due diligence ended in the failure of a popular landmark conservation purchase.
Photo by Andy Schauer
A WATERSHED MOMENT
Bothell is on the verge of conserving one of it's most valuable natural assets. A matrix of salmon streams, large wetlands and upland conifer forest park land is an exceptional gift to ecological function within urban watersheds.
A Watershed Moment refers to a moment in history where something changes that fundamentally shifts our point of view. It's a paradigm. We are watching one unfold right now.
Friends of North Creek Forest