As restoration work on the Sammamish River at Wayne gets underway, an onsite center could provide a crucial link to education for visitors of all ages. The front nine club house area or the area on back nine of the old Yellow Apple Ranch, could be repurposed for a interpretive center to educate and enhance understanding of the river’s role in a healthy environment.

Yellow Apple RanchView of the Yellow Apple Ranch from the Wayne Golf Course back nine. 

Environmental education at onsite learning centers brings immediacy to long-range plans. Trails through the restoration area could 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 such as water purification, and flood and erosion control, than on the site of a recreation and restoration project?

The center could provide food services, public restrooms, a classroom or auditorium, and library or bookstore. Retail space could support recreational activities like boating. Hands-on educational activities related to the site could be made available for individuals and classrooms, as well as displays of remote video feeds of wildlife, such as migrating salmon and the heron rookery in Kenmore. Labs could provide students with opportunities to analyze samples collected on site. It could facilitate cultural exchanges, environmental research, and serve as a space for non-profits to meet or house an art gallery.

There’s enough unrestricted land for us to achieve all this in harmony with the river and open space. It really comes down to what the city decides informed by the community support.