By Marin Kaetzel
The forest always felt like an extension of my home. My family was once “adopted” by a family of raccoons who visited us every night and dined on our cats’ food. My dad found endless joy watching Steller’s jays gather and hide peanuts he’d faithfully throw on the back deck each day. Even when tragedy struck in the loss of the family cat to a coyote, we knew that too was just part of living in harmony with the forest. I’ll never forget when they first started bulldozing our beloved woods...
A ragtag group of kids, myself included, threatened to chain ourselves to trees to stop the destruction; an unsuccessful attempt and our first lesson in politics and protest. As the machines moved in we watched as those great trees—our mighty guides, our protectors—fell one by one. Before we knew it, our path to school was lined with houses and we could see all the way down to “the valley” as we called the land down off Beardslee Blvd. The destruction stopped two houses short of my parents’ house and we all wondered and worried if they’d continue to develop further into our woods.
A few years later, a Proposed Land Use sign went up on another dead end street just down from our house. That was when some of our neighbors said “enough!” and an organized effort to save the forest began. It was around this time that I graduated from Bothell High School and moved to Seattle to attend the University of Washington. For the next 18 years I lived in the city but was always relieved to see the forest remain untouched when I visited my parents. After I was married and our family grew to include three active boys, my husband, Mark, and I decided to move back to Bothell. Much to our delight, the house next door to my childhood home, where my parents still live, was coming up for sale and we were able to purchase it. How wonderful it felt to be back home and to once again look out my back window and see the mighty evergreens and noble cottonwoods of my childhood.
While I am extremely supportive of the growth and redevelopment of Bothell’s downtown area, I am also saddened by the continued destruction of what little forested areas remain around town and the obvious effect it is having on native wildlife. We’ve seen an influx of coyotes wandering our neighborhood and those surrounding us, as more and more of their habitat falls and houses rise in their place.
As this happens all around us, I cannot be more grateful to the tireless work of Friends of North Creek Forest. As I celebrate the great news of the City of Bothell’s purchase of the final parcel of forest land, I’ve thought a lot about what the forest means to me. Watching my three boys enjoy “the woods” just as I did as a child provides my answer—the forest represents curiosity, exploration, knowledge, freedom and connection to our natural world—things every child deserves to experience. Friends of North Creek Forest has given us all a gift in securing this sacred space for future generations to enjoy.