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Effective December 2018, we have accomplished this first step of our mission. We gratefully acknowledge and thank the many players and supporters for coming together to support and fund this magnificent achievement, especially the City of Bothell, King County, Forterra, the state of Washington and the many residents of the region who actively worked on behalf of preserving this irreplaceable open space.
Now OneBothell moves to the next phase, and thus we MOVE into the next steps of our mission.
We all know that we live in a highly urbanized and heavily impacted watershed. Multiple studies have found the aquatic habitat within the Sammamish River corridor to be severely degraded. That our newest regional park now protects these ninety acres from development has a positive ripple effect in terms of wildlife.
The story of the Sammamish River corridor is very similar to the story of many of our urban streams and urban rivers. We’re dealing with a watershed where more than half of the aquatic habitat has been lost. The in-stream conditions lack diversity, the channels and the substrates have been altered and are no longer suitable for spawning habitat in a lot of the areas. The native plant communities are increasingly rare, water temperatures are elevated along with nutrients and pollutants. Flows have been altered from flooding in the winters and lower water levels during the summers. All of this impacts our fish and wildlife species.
In its Final Report of 2002 King County’s Sammamish River Corridor Action Plan states “conditions in the Sammamish River Corridor are severely degraded and have resulted in a decline in many fish and wildlife populations. Aquatic habitat has been reduced by more than half … A total of seven salmon species are known to be present in the north Lake Washington watershed, and of those, two are listed as threatened (chinook, bull trout), one has been petitioned for listing as endangered (kokanee), three are considered depressed by WDFW (coho [listed as a candidate specied under ESA], steelhead, and sockeye).”
The very rare Lake Sammamish kokanee uses the Lake Sammamish watershed for all of its life cycle. The decline of this species has been attributed in part to altered storm water flows and dissolved oxygen levels.
The acquisition of the former golf course for the purposes of habitat protection and restoration contributes significantly to the Water Resource Inventory Area for Lake Washington, Cedar and Sammamish Rivers (WRIA 8) and Puget Sound salmon and ecosystem recovery objectives. The property includes 4,800 feet of riverbank, representing more than 4 percent of the length of the Sammamish River, which flows for 14 miles from Lake Sammamish to Lake Washington.
Larry Phillips, Chair of WRIA 8 Salmon Recovery Council stated: “Acquisition of the Wayne Golf Course [was] a rare opportunity to protect substantial acreage in a primarily urban area, and protection would provide a significant opportunity to implement the restoration priorities identified in the WRIA 8 Plan on a large scale.” According to the WRIA 8 salmon recovery strategy, “protecting and restoring forest cover, riparian, buffers, wetlands, and creek mouths” is a Tier 1 action along the Sammamish River, which can only help improve water quality for salmonid species.
This wetlands map identifies the stream corridor and shoreline areas which make this a compelling salmonid restoration priority. Converting the course to public land would allow restoration activities.
Mammals present today in the Sammamish River Corridor include those species that have adapted to human development, such as deer, beavers, mountain beavers, nutrias, raccoons, opossums, skunks, river otters, coyotes, brown rabbits (eastern cottontail), shrews, mice and voles.
Beavers are more likely to be seen in the shallower part of the river near the Park at Bothell Landing, but the other animals can be viewed near the Wayne property. The increased development of the Waynita Drive area (more than 250 lots in the last few years) has reduced the habitat for wildlife. Deer can be frequently seen in the area. The new regional park and Blyth Park, in combination with the Burke Gilman and Sammamish River trails, offer a respite from the urbanization of Bothell. It is incumbent upon us to preserve this precious resource to assure that wildlife and humans can coexist in this ecosystem.
The health and viability of salmon in the Sammamish River system ultimately contributes to the viability of Puget Sound’s rapidly dwindling Orca population. These southern resident killer whales are also listed as endangered.
King County has designated several species as species of local importance that may appear including red-tailed hawk, osprey, great blue heron, band-tailed pigeon, harlequin duck, northern goshawk, merlin, peregrine falcon, Vaux’s swift, pileated woodpecker, olive-sided flycatcher and purple martin.
Winter and spring are prime times for bird watching on the Sammamish. Canada geese and mallard ducks are regular inhabitants. In winter, cormorants, mergansers, and widgeons can be spotted. A pair of bald eagles raises offspring every year in a tree on NE Riverbend Drive and feeds from the area known formerly as the Wayne back nine. Herons feed in the river all year-round. These animals are directly affected by water quality and the amount of food available.
Commitment of improving the water quality and riparian zones along the Sammamish River Corridor could inspire and encourage other cities on the river to follow suit. We have a wonderful opportunity to restore the ecology of the area and establish Bothell as a regional leader in stewardship of the Sammamish River.
Bothell has a shortfall of 675.5 acres of core park land to meet the recommended national standards, according to the 2014 Parks and Recreation Guidelines (Parks, Recreation & Open Space Action Program January 24 2014). Not only has the city’s population increased from 30,609 to 40,500 (32 percent) in just eight years, but Washington state’s population is expected to increase 24 percent by the year 2040. Finding ways to interact with nature will become more and more challenging for urbanites, and wildlife will be put at even greater risk by loss and fragmentation of critical habitat. We have an opportunity right now make a real difference for future generations!
Understanding the city’s limited financial resources and after much engagement from the community, Forterra successfully acquired the land as an interim measure while funds were secured for its public acquisition. Now we have a unique opportunity to create a signature park for the rapidly growing community of Bothell and surrounding region. Because Blyth and the newly acquired parkland are adjacent, the two properties should be considered as one continuation to create an iconic park for the public.
The image above shows where Blyth Park (left) meets the back nine of Wayne.
The former Wayne Golf Course alone “possesses natural resources, recreational, scenic, open space, water resource, and recreational value of great importance to the people of Bothell, the people of King County, and the people of the State of Washington.” (Conservation Easement Recitals section B). Imagine the significance of a regional park that combines the 40.8 acres of Blyth with the 89 acres of this new park.
Imagine a recreational corridor up located in the heart of Bothell connecting three trails—the Burke-Gilman, Sammamish River, and Tolt Pipeline. Imagine hiking through the interconnected woods, launching a kayak or paddleboard from an accessible river site, visiting an interpretive center to better appreciate the wondrous ecosystem, viewing wildlife from observation areas, catching glimpses of migrating salmon, enjoying vistas of meadows and forested areas, observing waterfowl and raptors, or just strolling through a peaceful haven free from city noises and urban structures. With restrooms, picnic areas and a play area for children already at Blyth, coupled with the immense opportunities for interacting with nature afforded by Wayne land, we can create a signature park of nearly 130 acres. What an amazing legacy this will be.
The area northeast of Seattle where Bothell is located is already a hub of beloved trails. Three of them converge within several hundred feet of each other near the junction of Blyth Park, the former Wayne Golf Course, and the Sammamish River.
The Burke-Gilman trail is 19.8 miles long and originates near Golden Gardens in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. It ends in Bothell at Blyth Park. The Sammamish River Trail starts across the river at a trestle bridge abutting Blyth Park and extends 10.9 miles to Marymoor Park in Redmond. The Tolt Pipeline runs on the boundary of Blyth Park and the former Wayne Golf Course for 14 miles between Bothell and Duvall Park. A fantastic opportunity is presenting itself with the development of the Wayne land to link these three trails for seamless recreational possibilities.
The end of the Tolt Pipeline Trail at the the Wayne Golf Course Property
The Burke-Gilman and Sammamish River trails both follow old railroad lines and are beloved by urban dwellers who walk, run, skate, or cycle the easy grade of less than three-percent. Both trails are heavily used by all ages of people year-round. The Tolt Pipeline trail is utilized mostly by rigorous athletes and hardy outdoors-people who hike or mountain bike its steep terrain and rugged slopes. Access to the Tolt can be problematic because of its location and disruptions with the occasional highway or river.
The map above was generation using TrailLink.com
Now the opportunity of three trails being conjoined is an exciting possibility. Conceivably, a person could travel by foot- or pedal-power from Ballard to Duvall with little obstruction. In addition to these three major trails, St. Edward State Park and Big Finn Hill Park in Kenmore with their combined 10 mile loop trail, and O.O. Denny Park in Kirkland with another six miles of trail, are close enough to the Tolt Pipeline Trail to further expand the opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts seeking a backcountry recreational feel within an urban setting.
King County has one of the best trail systems in the nation. Increasing connectivity by opening of the boundary between our newly acquired parkland and Blyth park would wrap the Tolt Pipeline into the system. That would be another feather in King County’s cap.
As restoration work on the Sammamish River gets underway, this park will provide a crucial educational link for visitors of all ages. Environmental education brings immediacy to long-range plans. Trails through the restoration area will become a conduit for the public to learn about fish and wildlife survival. What better way to learn about the history of the river, its importance as habitat for fish and wildlife and the ecological services the wetlands provide than to visit or volunteer at the site of a restoration project?
View of the Yellow Apple Ranch from the Wayne Golf Course back nine.
There’s enough unrestricted land for us to achieve all this in harmony with the river and open space. It is with a sense of great excitement possibility that we look forward to working with Parks and Recreation Department of Bothell, as well as benefactors, volunteers, and granting agencies to develop immediate and meaningful learning opportunities for all visitors of all ages.
OneBothell consists of volunteers from the community. Even a small amount of your time is appreciated. To learn about the different ways you can help click the button below