Guest View | Save the Edmonds Marsh

By Susie Schaefer | Sep 28, 2016
Courtesy of: Susie Schaefer

I am a member of a local group of citizens concerned about the future of the Edmonds Marsh.

We request that the Edmonds City Council and city government, Port of Edmonds, Washington Department of Ecology, Washington Department of Transportation, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway and Chevron Environmental Management Company uphold their responsibility to protect the Edmonds Marsh from further degradation.

The viability of the remnant Edmonds Marsh to continue to support wildlife and maintain the important ecological functions that wetlands/estuaries serve for society is being threatened by potential reduction in the buffers necessary to protect the remnant marsh from the impacts of further development of historic marshlands.

The public wants this unique habitat sustained for our wildlife and for future generations of residents and tourists alike to enjoy.

The Edmonds Marsh has been impacted by past commercial development, contamination from upland fuel storage and an asphalt plant, highway and railroad construction/maintenance, loss of native vegetation, invasive vegetation, stormwater runoff, vehicle/train emissions, and filling that has reduced the marsh to a remnant of what it was historically.

The time is now for all of the responsible entities to begin working with citizens concerned about the marsh to develop and implement action plans to restore and enhance the ecological functions of the remnant marsh for the benefit of its wildlife and the public.

The roughly 22.5 acre Edmonds Marsh is a remnant of what it was historically, but is still viewed as a “hidden jewel” by Edmonds residents.

It is one of the few remaining urban saltwater estuaries in the Puget Sound area and is designated as a Priority Habitat by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Also called the “Edmonds Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary” by Edmonds Parks and Recreation, it is listed in Audubon Society’s “The Great Washington State Birding Trail” which lists “the best places for the best bird watching in the Evergreen State.”

Compilers of the Edmonds Marsh bird checklist have documented 190 different species in the marsh. The Edmonds Marsh is also listed in the citizen-based online international bird observation network (“eBird”) with 129 different species observed to date this year.

Other wildlife including coyotes and deer have been observed in and near the marsh. Once the Willow Creek daylighting project is complete, the marsh will again be fully utilized by several anadromous salmon species including juvenile chinook salmon that are now listed under the Federal Endangered Species Act.

We commend the city of Edmonds on its ongoing effort to restore tidal connection of the Edmonds Marsh to Puget Sound (the Willow Creek project), but we are concerned that potential future actions to redevelop Harbor Square and potential future uses of the old Unocal property may compromise the ecological functions of the marsh.

Further actions are also needed to improve the degraded vegetated areas around the marsh and address the effects of untreated stormwater draining into the Marsh from State Route 104 and Harbor Square.

We therefore request:

The Edmonds City Council adopt a scientifically-based buffer width plus a set back in the City’s Shoreline Master Program that will protect the shores of the Edmonds marsh and its wildlife in perpetuity. The best available science in the Washington Department of Ecology’s 2016 Publication No. 16-06-001 “Wetland Guidance for CAO Updates” calls for a minimum 110 foot buffer for the Edmonds Marsh.

The Washington Department of Ecology implement its mission to “protect, preserve and enhance Washington's environment for current and future generations” by ensuring the best available science is used in approving the city of Edmonds' Shoreline Master Program consistent with agency guidelines on setting buffer widths in critical areas.

The city of Edmonds establish a task force that includes the entities mentioned above, environmental organizations such as the Pilchuck Chapter of the Audubon Society, and concerned citizens to begin actively working to address and resolve issues that may impact the ecological functions of the Edmonds Marsh, including future plans for development near the marsh.

The Port of Edmonds and the Burlington Northern Sante Fe undertake necessary actions to vegetate and revegetate their property bordering the marsh to ensure wide areas of dense and diverse native vegetation thrive around the marsh.

The Washington Department of Transportation, Port of Edmonds, Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Chevron Environmental Management Company begin actively working with the public to resolve runoff and discharges from their property that may affect the health of the Edmonds Marsh.

Susie Schaefer is coordinator of Edmonds Wildlife Habitat Native Plant Demonstration Garden and member of Pilchuck Audubon Society. This letter was endorsed by a group of more than 30 people, including scientists, attorneys, teachers and doctors.





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